Its The Dog

Learning through dogs

Prey drive inhibition

Dasy and an emu chick

Aside from dogs, My house shelters other small animals as well. Living with small prey animals and two decent sized predators can be exciting sometimes. I have gone through great lengths to ensure the safety of all, including proper management.

When Dingo was a puppy our 18-year-old cat, Misty, taught him the proper way to socialize with felines, and my pair of Rouen ducks taught him not to be overly nosey with birds. Ozzy the cockatiel has influenced him by way of a few hisses when he was being to intrusive. Over all he’s fairly good with small animals, but being part terrier he will at times become a little too intense. He’s never killed anything but he has given chase to rabbits and robins in the yard before. I trust him not to cause harm to the smaller members of our family but I’d never put him in a position where he’d have the opportunity to harm them.

Dasy on the other hand only had the cockatiels and budgies to learn from. The turtles mainly live outside and by her arrive Misty the cat had passed away. However she’s my bomb proof girl, I trust her wholly not to harm anything. If she’s around chicken chicks and one peeps funny she’ll check all her paws to ensure she didn’t step on one. She’s very mothering toward infants of all species. During her first 6 months with me I would make regular trips to a petting zoo with her where she was exposed to goats, sheep, horses, llamas, chickens and peafowl. Of them all the horse was the only one she wouldn’t approach, maybe she knew Mr. Ed has a habit of biting.

Many breeds of dogs have high prey drives, German shepherd dogs are notorious for their prey drive. Airedales are always game for a good chase. And border collies have a modified prey drive, this is where the herding instinct comes from after all. Despite having high prey drives all of the breeds above have the potential to be trusted off leash, and around other animals.

While exposure from a young age can help create prey drive inhibition, there will have to be some training as well. A reliable “leave it” could be taught for a dog who may be a little too nosey, or a little too intense. A “be nice” cue could also be used. Counter conditioning is also a method that could be used to curb prey drive and create tolerance.

In the end though it comes down to management. very few breeds were meant to live with and around small prey animals, those breeds are known as livestock guardian dogs. It’s always safest to supervise all inter species interactions.

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