|Barked: Mon Jul 1, '13 2:22pm PST |
|Just to clarify, territorial guarding is completely different than prey drive. Both can be an issue, but confusing them for the same thing can end badly. Territoriality is about wariness of the unfamiliar, generally based in fear, which can usually be overcome through slow, positive introductions and time.
Prey drive is a straight up, instinctual, chemical reaction to stalk, chase, grab and kill. It is in all dogs, although to widely varying degrees. Companion dogs like Chihuahuas, for example, have very little prey drive and are known for loving their cats. Huskies were created without regard for lessening prey drive, and in many cases were left to their own devices when not needed for work, or when food was in short supply. They hunted for them selves, or died. End result is a dog with very high prey drive.
It is possible to train a dog to "think through" this chemical reaction, but it is very, very difficult and does not always work. Even when it does work, it can never be fully trusted when the dog has a generally high prey drive. Because this is a chemical reaction, it is not processed in the "thinking" part of the brain (hence the difficulty in training around it) and you can get a phenomenon called predatory drift.
Predatory drift can happen in any dog, including the Chi who loves cats. Something happens (often a high-pitched noise, or quick movement) that triggers that chemical reaction and sets off the stalk - chase - grab - kill process. This is what you're seeing in a dog park, when one dog twists his ankle and begins yelping, and several other dogs drop what they're doing and converge on him. It usually does not result in death in these dog park situations, but it absolutely can, especially if there is a significant size difference in the dogs or the humans do not get there fast enough. It is very, very dangerous.
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