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Prey Drive!

.unknown.
February 9th, 2005, 08:57 PM
I have a 2 yr old (approx) Rottweiler Lab mix. She's a great dog, but has a pretty strong prey drive. She chases my cat everywhere...When she catches him she just licks him to death, but i just got a cockatiel and she actualy drools while looking at him, jumps to catch him etc.

I've been looking up ways to curb this instinct and am training her with "leave it" commands and enforcing the Stay command but, i would like to get to a point where i can trust the dog more when the bird is out of it's cage. Right now, the visits with the bird are short and tense or in a completely seperate room.

Now, I never plan on leaving any of my pets alone with the bird, but would like to be able to have everyone be a little more relaxed.

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had experience with training an older dog to stop chasing things?

Any advice would be wonderful!

Lucky Rescue
February 9th, 2005, 09:15 PM
The "Leave it" command is a very good one, but I like to actually make it very rewarding for the dog to ignore the other animal, since this could be a matter of life or death.

Dog wants to lunge at cat or bird. You say "LEAVE IT" and correct with the leash. As soon as the dog turns to look at you, she gets a special treat (something wonderful you use only for this training) Do this consistantly. This way, leaving the animals alone is very profitable for her and she should actually get to the point where she will turn and look at you if the cat or bird is around.

I would not allow her to chase the cat. There is too much danger of her prey drive taking over and causing her to harm the cat,even if not meaning to. Just one bite or shake from a dog this size could easily kill a cat.

I would also never allow any interaction between dog and bird.

It's great that you are being so cautious!:)

twodogsandacat
February 9th, 2005, 09:42 PM
I was just thinking that Noah must of had a heck of a job on that boat.
.

Bugsy
February 9th, 2005, 11:54 PM
Omg... good one http://www.addis-welt.de/smilie/smilie/lachen/24.gif

Carina
February 10th, 2005, 03:44 AM
I was just thinking that Noah must of had a heck of a job on that boat.
.

LOL!
Well I am sure he was the original Dog Whisperer. :)
Unknown....I have Rottweilers, and I'm currently rehoming a kitten because one of my dogs cannot tolerate her (although Daphne lived for three years previously with an adult cat just fine.) She did the same thing with Egg the kitten too, at first - was rigid and drooling, would lunge if she got the chance. I tried for six weeks or so to get Daphne relaxed around Egg, but it's clear that a: it would never work and b: Daphne will kill Egg in a heartbeat, given the chance.
I have, however, introdued a number of dogs/puppies/cats/kittens. Quite a few times the dog would want to merely chase the cat in play, or there was potential for harm, but we got through it.
One key seems to be the dog realising that the cat is yours, and part of the household. (Initially Cooper wanted to kill Egg too, I am sure. Once he realised the above, he became very tolerant of her, poor dog! She hangs off various parts of his anatomy, clawing away, and he just looks at me like OMG, it's touching me. :yuck: But I trust him implicitly with her alone now.)
Several of my dogs over the years have had very high prey drives, and have killed wildlife that got into the yard - including Cooper, last summer he killed a large groundhog while on leash with me in the woods! He was incredibly fast, the poor thing was dead in seconds. I'm sure most of my dogs would kill a strange cat if they could, but once they realise a cat is part of the household, they won't.
Rottweilers are in part a guardian breed, and Labs don't tend to be critter killers, they have very soft mouths.

Anyhow, ditto what Lucky said. I'll add:
In addition to rewarding for focusing on you & not the cat, give her something else to do. Does she do any tricks? An alternate activity of some sort will help too, as well as just staring at you and getting fed or praised. Redirect her energy.
Once she's in prey drive, you most likely can't get her attention at all, you need to stop her chasing behaviour before it starts. Let her trail a leash around the house...the minute she looks, tenses, you can see her preparing to chase, say AH!AH! and redirect her as above. Timing is important here!
Every time she gets the chance to chase, she's being rewarded.
After a while, she will forget that it's even fun.
Depending on your dog and your relationship with her, a very emphatic correction for chasing - once she understands she is not to - could be really effective. You don't want to overcorrect for cat chasing though, because she might get stressed about the cat. It depends on your dog though.

The staring and drooling at your bird sounds uncomfortably like what Daphne did with Egg, and I agree with Lucky, zero interaction.

SarahLynn123
February 10th, 2005, 09:01 AM
I was at a party when I was in high school, of course the parents were out of town. He has two wonderful, big, layed back dogs. I remember them being very very calm at all times. Well someone had to much to drink, fell into the bird cage, it tipped over, the door swung open and out came the bird. In less then a second one of the dogs leaped in the air and had a $1500 snack. It all happened so fast there was no chance of saving that bird. PLease check the door to the cage to be sure it shuts very tight for when your not around!!

.unknown.
February 11th, 2005, 02:11 PM
Even if my dog didn't have a strong prey drive, i wouldn't let her play with the bird. She's far too clumsy. It's really endearing!

My dog does not respond well to punishment or negativity of ANY kind. So to train her i show her the things that are good to do and she tends to do just that. I've had incredible success with praise and love... Even catching her in the act, and scolding right then and there did nothing. I could only redirect and praise like hell. She LOVES it. So i do it whenever she does ANYTHING good... It's gained so much respect from her toward me it's great.

So I've already made progress with stay and leave it, just after a few days. She still drools when looking at the bird, but i was able to have him on my shoulder for a short period while walking around the house... She got really excited and couldn't hold it anymore so we had to end quickly. But i think she will realize that the bird is mine an that she isn't allowed to hurt it.

In fact it's funny, i have stuffed animals that she sometimes steals from me... But she only takes them and puts them in her bed or on my bed and sleeps by them. Only until i say "ok" does she actually play with them and chews them... So i think if i establish the ownership of the bird that she will have more respect for it.

Thanks for your advice!

tenderfoot
February 11th, 2005, 05:34 PM
We have 7 large parrots and 5 dogs. I will forever lock the Lurcher away before I even consider letting the birds out. Certain dogs just cannot contain the urge. The aussie repeatedly leaps into the air with excitement when he knows the birds are coming out, and has had birds land on his head or between his legs and he has not done anything to harm them - mostly looks at me asking what he should do next. But I know in my heart that if anything ever went wrong it would be my fault.
Remember that your bird can fly even if his wings are clipped - anything could startle him and cause him to jump off of you and towards the dog and snap! it's over.
With her level of enthusiasm (stiff & drooling) I wouldn't risk it. It could be that over time when she is no longer interested in the bird in it's cage that you might start to test it. It could take weeks to months for her not to be so thrilled that there is a bird in the house. It is great that you are working on the 'leave it', the 'easy or gentle' commands are great too. They tell the dog to use slow and gentle energy around the creature you are with - so you might want to start working on that one too.
While cats are predators - pet birds are forever prey animals. I trust my birds with some of my dogs because they are actually tougher and bigger than some of the dogs. The dog would be more likely to get the bad end of the beak - so to speak.

.unknown.
February 16th, 2005, 04:52 PM
well, it's been two weeks now, the dog still gets excited about the bird...but, it's become so much more relaxed now...

I've hidden a squirt bottle in my living room that she gets squirted with every time she starts to make a fuss around the birds cage, and now, she doesn't really show interest in it...

When the bird is out, she does really well for longer periods of time each time we try. So there's progress! He flew from his cage to me on the couch, and my dog was sitting beside me (i had her collar) and she didn't even flinch, she just watched... but don't worry i'm not taking any chances! It seems like she's learning that it's not food, and that she gets tastier treats if she DOESN'T eat the bird.

So, there's hope =) but there's still tonnes of work to be done.
:thumbs up