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  1. #1
    Road Dawg

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    Default How do I stop Lacey from killing and eating prey?

    Hi,

    Lacey is now 33 months old. I written about her before as being the shy and fearful dog of people. Well, I wish she would be afraid of rabbits, mice and chipmunks. As for the humans, she still keeps her distance, but there isn't the intense panic anymore (at least not always). Medication has helped (Cloripramine and L-theanine).

    Back in January, she caught a rabbit that got into her fenced-in area. She killed it and ate most of it before I found her with it. Then in early summer, she did it again and later again, along with a couple of mice. These "snacks" were in outside of her fenced-in area, but still within the fence around the farm (don't worry, she is not loose).

    The day before yesterday and yesterday, she found 2 or 3 bunnies in their nests in the large areas. I chased her back in and she buried the one in her yard. I got her away from it and disposed of it. But based on evidence in the field she may have eaten one before I caught her. Yesterday, the same thing. But I don't know if she ate it as I was nearby and suddenly it was gone - maybe she swallowed it whole. I was trying to get her with "come" and "drop it" being as useless as with other Pyrs. My brother got involved and threw a large bamboo stick at her and she ran back to the house and he continued to slap the stick on the deck. She was so scared and came into the house and went into her crate and then beside me on the couch. I was not happy with her prey kills, but I was more unhappy with how it was handled. I cried all night and on the way to work. I even had thoughts of getting rid of her to avoid the conflict (stupid I know). He also tells me that she is a wild dog and a killer and nothing like my last Pyr. But he does help take care of her, like making her lunch everyday and giving her neck scratches and hanging out with him outside.

    I don't like her catching things, and I've accepted that it will happen and then she gets her dewormer monthly. On the off chance, is there anything anyone could suggest to try to stop her from hunting prey? I have been ordered to make her stay in her smaller fenced in area when she is outside so she can't get anything.

    She is a lovely dog - sweet and gentle. As whole and doesn't do anything bad - no destruction in the house, only barks outside, and I love her intensely. She is even pretty good at coming back when I call, unless prey is involved.

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Oh, I am so sorry about the current discord at your house.

    For what it's worth, I wholly disagree with your brother. She is not a wild dog, she sounds like a dog with a slightly higher than normal prey drive for her breed. It's not something she chose, and it doesn't make her a bad dog. It's a natural instinct.

    Before I moved to my current home, Sebastian, Chester (my lab/pit mix) and I lived in an apartment complex with a dog park. One day, we were in the park with some of their doggie friends, when a sickly young squirrel (I think it had a roundworm infection in its brain) staggered into the enclosure. Doggie pandemonium immediately ensued. Every dog in there, Sebastian included, wanted that squirrel for themselves. They all ran barking over to the squirrel and encircled the poor thing. Fights broke out. I think some of the other humans in the park were as scared as that poor squirrel must have been.

    By the time I was able to get over there, Sebastian already had the little guy in his mouth. Fortunately for the squirrel, Sebastian has the soft mouth of a Saint Bernard (a gift for me from his birth mom). A neighbor and I were able to get the squirrel to relative safety, although I'm pretty sure the poor thing didn't live for long.

    Sebastian is otherwise a gentle soul, unless he sees you as a threat. Or you're a kitty cat. He also really doesn't like squirrels after that day, either. In fact, if I just say the words "squirrel" or "kitty cat", he will rush to the window and start barking like a madman.

    I saw in one of your older posts that you have worked with a Behaviorist in the past, and had good results. Is there any way that you could consult with the Behaviorist again? I feel like having a plan in place to deal with this behavior when it arises again (and it is self-rewarding behavior that is likely to repeat) is a good idea. However, you don't want your plan to deal with her prey drive to set back the progress you've made on her shyness. Working with shy and anxious dogs can be a bit tricky.
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  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Alas, I don't really have any good advice on stopping prey drive. As SM said, this is a self-rewarding behavior and so it's harder to deal with.

    Maybe you can convince your brother to look at this in a different light... I mean it's like Lacy is on the whole prey diet, except you don't have to prepare the food for her...

  4. #4
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Sounds like your brother doesn't know how to deal with dogs either and should go see a behaviorist as well.

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    I have met tons of Pyrs with high prey drives. Yes it's frowned upon on the breed, but it happens not all Pyrs are met to guard and that high prey drive tends to be a good sign of that. It's completely normal for most dogs to see something small running and want to chase it and well kill it. Then again I live in house with terriers and if you ever want to see a dog whose strictly in it to chase it and kill it they are your go to.

    I don't want to offend you by saying this but, your brother is an idiot and clearly needs to understand that every dog is different. In all honesty I have met some Pyr siblings and one has zero prey drive and the other can spot a squirrel from two miles away and almost catch it every time. Same DNA just different temperaments.

  6. #6
    Young Dawg (Member) daisycannon's Avatar

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    It could be helpful to discourage her from eating anything you don't personally give to her. You can take some meat of some sort, making sure you never touch it with your hands to leave a scent trace, and put a taste deterrent (like bitter gel or a mildly spicy pepper inserted into it) on it before hiding it outside where she can find it. It works with some dogs to help break the automatic reward they get from finding food. I did it with Daisy when I first got her. She was about the most anxious dog I've ever met, but it didn't seem to set her back any on that front. We were having trouble with people poisoning dogs or killing them with razors and needles stuck into bits of hot dog. It only took one package of hot dogs for her to realize taking food without permission is a Bad Idea. I'm not sure how well it would work with prey, but it can't hurt.

  7. #7
    Road Dawg

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    Thanks for everyone's input. I know it is likely a losing battle, but I'll try anything.

    As she was banned from going into the larger yard (not by me), I have been taking her out on a long line (20 feet), so I can catch her and get her away from bunnies. It did work . Of course she found one and I corrected her and she dropped it. I think it shocked her, but she still continued to look for more.

    The only thing is that keeping her on the line and me following her is visibly depressing her. She is used to her routine of going out for her perimeter check, doing her business, and just hanging out. She has done this for almost 3 years and now she has to stay in her smaller fence and be escorted to the larger area. She looks so sad. And she knows I'm upset in trying to balance the living situation. Maybe I'm too concerned about her feelings, but she is my pet and my family.

    So, I'll keep plugging along and will let her go free in a couple of days as the bunny nest should be empty by then and suffer the consequences of bunny parts, deworming, and brother issues.

    Again thanks - this is a great group!

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Being concerned about her feelings is always a good thing, here.

    I like daisycannon's idea of trying to teach her that stuff she finds on the ground is yucky. That could definitely be worth a try.

    When you have her out on leash, are you leading her, or is she leading you? I might have some ideas there.

    Also, does your Behaviorist give follow-up support by phone or email? I have one other idea, but it's something that I think would be a good idea to run past a professional before trying, given her history. For example, my Chester has pretty bad anxiety, and I know that trying this technique would be more than he can handle. It's not physically aversive or harmful, but it's also not the right technique for him. Without knowing Lacey, it's hard to tell whether or not this would be the right technique for her, either.
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  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    It's hard for me to imagine training this out of a dog unless you were with them round the clock, constantly monitoring them. In Lacey's case, with her history of fearfulness, I would be very careful about chasing her down and scaring her in an effort to take something she has. All three of mine will eat things if they find them and Ru has significant prey drive. Tyro accidentally caught a jack rabbit when it could not get through a fence and this has created an obsession about bunnies for him too. Even my laid-back Lily will happily dig out a nest within seconds and eat baby bunnies if given the chance. We suspect both my girls eat critters when they are working at night. I can take things away from any of them but would never expect them not to do their hunting thing if I were not with them and I would never chase mine down to take something from them. They've been trained to trade me for things that are of value to them and I play by the rules in an effort to reduce resource guarding in regard to people. It does mean that sometimes Ru makes a very quick swallow and the baby bird is history but I still don't make any fast moves towards her. I never want her panicking over me trying to take something from her or attempting to rapidly swallow something that is too big to be swallowed because she fears I will take it. It doesn't make me happy but as I point out the sisters, they ARE dogs and not people in fur coats. My Kangal dogs are still a pretty primitive breed. If they didn't eat rodents and small animals in their native Turkey, they might not eat at all, especially the females. Many, even while carrying pups, are not fed regularly and have to sustain themselves on what they can catch. It might be more successful trying to retrain your brother to understand Lacey's point of view rather than trying to eliminate an instinct that Lacey can't explain to you or easily overcome. She's not being naughty. She's just doing what some dogs do.

  10. #10
    Young Dawg (Member) mikelg84's Avatar

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    Hi,

    You're not alone. My dog Pippa (GP/Anatolian Shepherd mix) has done this before. I used to get upset, but I realized that it's in their DNA to have normal-high prey drive. That doesn't make them wild animals. I love Pippa to death and she belongs with my family, in our home. She has a thing for rabbits. When I'm walking her, if she sees or smells one, she goes crazy and I have to hold her or otherwise she will run away. I'm strong, so I don't think that I will ever fall, but I always have to hold her leash tight.

    Unfortunately, some rabbits have gotten inside our yard and well, you know how the story ends. One time, and this happened on Father's day, she came to my bedroom and brought me half of a rabbit. I was petrified.

    As I said, it's not abnormal to have some prey drive, so I just pretend it's something natural and normal. That doesn't make me love her less. She's perfect the way she is.




    Quote Originally Posted by christinecvs View Post
    Hi,

    Lacey is now 33 months old. I written about her before as being the shy and fearful dog of people. Well, I wish she would be afraid of rabbits, mice and chipmunks. As for the humans, she still keeps her distance, but there isn't the intense panic anymore (at least not always). Medication has helped (Cloripramine and L-theanine).

    Back in January, she caught a rabbit that got into her fenced-in area. She killed it and ate most of it before I found her with it. Then in early summer, she did it again and later again, along with a couple of mice. These "snacks" were in outside of her fenced-in area, but still within the fence around the farm (don't worry, she is not loose).

    The day before yesterday and yesterday, she found 2 or 3 bunnies in their nests in the large areas. I chased her back in and she buried the one in her yard. I got her away from it and disposed of it. But based on evidence in the field she may have eaten one before I caught her. Yesterday, the same thing. But I don't know if she ate it as I was nearby and suddenly it was gone - maybe she swallowed it whole. I was trying to get her with "come" and "drop it" being as useless as with other Pyrs. My brother got involved and threw a large bamboo stick at her and she ran back to the house and he continued to slap the stick on the deck. She was so scared and came into the house and went into her crate and then beside me on the couch. I was not happy with her prey kills, but I was more unhappy with how it was handled. I cried all night and on the way to work. I even had thoughts of getting rid of her to avoid the conflict (stupid I know). He also tells me that she is a wild dog and a killer and nothing like my last Pyr. But he does help take care of her, like making her lunch everyday and giving her neck scratches and hanging out with him outside.

    I don't like her catching things, and I've accepted that it will happen and then she gets her dewormer monthly. On the off chance, is there anything anyone could suggest to try to stop her from hunting prey? I have been ordered to make her stay in her smaller fenced in area when she is outside so she can't get anything.

    She is a lovely dog - sweet and gentle. As whole and doesn't do anything bad - no destruction in the house, only barks outside, and I love her intensely. She is even pretty good at coming back when I call, unless prey is involved.
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