Redirecting Prey Drive
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to redirect prey drive! ChoCho's prey-drive is insane and she's kind of obsessive about it, to the point where she forgets she has to pee and poop. I remember Shigeru ( @TheWalrus ) commented on how he was able to stop Rome, his Shikoku, who was off leash, from chasing a cat, so IT CAN BE DONE! I tried the whole treat destruction method and she ignores it and me. We've also tried turning around and walking in the other direction, but she just walks sides aways or gets up on her hind legs and hops backwards. The best thing that works is carrying her out of the squirrel infested area. lol

    I've tried, harnesses and martingale and she's just as crazy. I just don't want her to get hurt... or have my arm pulled out of its socket!
    Post edited by Hinata23 at 2013-01-07 10:27:39
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    Have you taken her to any classes yet?
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    She did beginners class back in April and we've been working with her at home ever since. Refreshing old tricks (sit, down, stay, leave it) and learning new ones (up, crawl, find it). We're waiting for my husband to go on a trip next week and return so we can start taking her to classes again.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    Have you tried running away from the prey item, encouraging her to run with you? Miyu can be kind of the same way when she sees prey and strange dogs, and I've found that getting excited while running away has helped her change her focus long enough to get some distance. Then with distance, it is easier to redirect her to other things.

    Also, try seeing how Cho reacts to Goro leaving her behind and getting some fun elsewhere. I've noticed that Miyu really hates being too far away from the other two, and she wants nothing more than to get to where they are.
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 1033
    How about redirecting the behavior to a game of tug? I was able to get ninja to stop staring at birds by playing tug.

    I had a thread about Eevee being obsessed about squirrels. She loves to play with cats but wants to eat squirrels. She would tree and run to each tree looking for squirrels. She does this for hours at the dog park. She won't listen to any commands and I can only get her back when I walk far away and hope her separation anxiety kicks in. I would like to know how to curve this behavior too.
    Post edited by Zinja at 2013-01-06 21:22:27
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    @Calia She doesn't care if she's left behind. Goro is the one that freaks out like a silly lol
    I've tried running with her, but she just runs side ways or tries to claw the grass to grip on!

    @Zinja Hopefully we can find something to distract them!
    Post edited by Hinata23 at 2013-01-07 10:29:26
  • If the dog is fixated on some thing or some animal, unless you have worked on training under high arousal state, it would be very difficult to distract your dog at that point.

    It definitely can be done, but until you have put in good training to teach the dog what is desired, I would advice you not to let your dog go off leash and has the chance to chase a cat. The behavior itself is self-rewarding and the more chance the dog practices this highly-rewarding behavior, the more likely it will happen and the intensity of the chase.
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    @sandrat888 Oh no, I think you misunderstood. I would NEVER let ChoCho off leash! I just remember Shigeru saying that he was able to stop Rome while walking him off leash, which is an extreme example (and not something I'm going to ever try!), so I know redirecting a Shikoku can be done. Shigeru uses his NK on off leash hunting trips... we're not in the same situation. I grip ChoCho's leash like my life depends on it :)
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1621
    The redirection, and all that training, has to be done before the switch kicks in. Once the switch is on, you'll need extreme stimuli to snap them out of it (ie shock collar, marching band, act of god).

    I think of it as a reward game where I have to find something, anything, that is interesting enough to my dog to get their attention at that moment something comes up on their radar, and I see their body language change. When I'm training my dogs I watch them and the environment like a hawk, and I try to pick up on what's going to happen well in advance. I want to see the cat first.

    A dog's hunting instinct moves through a very predictable and ordered behavioral pattern. Find prey via scent/sound/visually, track movement, physically commit to chase, catch, and finally kill. The more a dog goes through all or any of this pattern, the more rewarding it is as @sandrat888 mentioned.

    As soon as my dogs pick up scent/sound/visual of something I don't want them interested in, I break out all my tricks to distract and do something funner with them that they enjoy. With some dogs treats work, but most dogs with a lot of hunting drive will not take them. I've found games work better. If I haven't found something that the dog likes, then I'll create a behavior with the dog in training, and over time by rewarding excitement during our 'behavior' training, the dog will go nuts practically on cue.

    It can be something as simple as running full speed with me as @Calia said, or tug of war, fetching a ball etc etc. Once the dog has learned to be excited about the 'behavior', I'll actually look for say cats, and then train/play with the dog in that setting. Once I am successfully able to break the dog off their fixation fairly reliably, I'll throw in a 'no' command when they notice the cat, and then break out the 'behavior'. My end goal is to teach the dog a pattern; sense cat, I say no, dog redirects to me for fun 'behavior', and then we go do something else. Of course this is all done on a leash.

    It's tough and takes a lot of patience using this method, but it has worked for me in the past. Trying to teach a hunting dog not to hunt is difficult!
  • @Hinata23

    I re-read your original post and saw that I misunderstood what you meant. Guess I shouldn't bother responding to a forum post during midnight potty breaks. :)

    Asking a dog to focus and still function when highly aroused or distracted is definitely doable, but it requires training and proofing. It takes time and skills to slowly build up the dog's ability to still preform when it is excited. There is no shortcut to it.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    LoL, come to think of it, when I had initially started the running thing with Miyu I did do it when I noticed something that would set her off before she did. Running in general has become a huge reward for Miyu since I restrict it due to her hips, but she does get to have her moments. I swear, if I'd let her, Miyu would probably run the Iditarod at full speed without breaks.
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 1175
    Shigeru gives you some EXCELLENT advice in his post, but I think the most important point that he mentions is the following:

    "The redirection, and all that training, has to be done before the switch kicks in. Once the switch is on, you'll need extreme stimuli to snap them out of it (ie shock collar, marching band, act of god). I think of it as a reward game where I have to find something, anything, that is interesting enough to my dog to get their attention at that moment something comes up on their radar, and I see their body language change. When I'm training my dogs I watch them and the environment like a hawk, and I try to pick up on what's going to happen well in advance. I want to see the cat first. If I haven't found something that the dog likes, then I'll create a behavior with the dog in training, and over time by rewarding excitement during our 'behavior' training, the dog will go nuts practically on cue."

    The very first part of training a high drive dog is to "proof" them before they ever see the very exciting stimuli (eg, cat, squirrel, etc). I work on obedience in my dogs at home, doing obedience patterns, skill training with LOTS of positive reinforcement (ie, food, clicker, fun games that they enjoy as reward if they play close attention to what I asked). Then I begin to train them in slightly (just slightly) more distracting environments and if they get too excited, I take them back to the less exciting environment. Then take them to obedience classes (and once they are ready, especially the higher skill obedience classes where they present the dogs with more distractions).

    So what does this have to do with your original question? Well, once they know the routine about listening and learning to control their impulses when you give them a command, it is easier to control them. But as Shigeru notes, it is best to not let them get overly stimulated (ie, kicking the switch on) and best to start to redirect them before they get really wound up, and have a "skill game" or something like that which rewards to dog for refocusing on YOU and not the cat.

    I know for a fact that it does work. My two completely ignore horses now, they are so "proofed" to them. But take them to a place that has goats, their drive switch kicks in VERY fast, but by redirecting and requesting them to pay attention to me (which they have ingrained from our training sessions) helps them to "resist the impulse".

    PS - like Rome and Shigeru, I can stop my 2 from chasing a cat and they will stop. Persistence.

    Now that being said, all bets are off if they are chasing game that they know I allow them to hunt -- eg, a groundhog. So you have to teach them which animals are okay to hunt and which are absolutely not okay.

    PPS - at home food works best to train my two. But like Shigeru said, away from home they lose their food drive. So I find that food and fun games at home are used for the "reward" but away from home, I find using the game/pattern reward what works (and I do it just like Shigeru does per his post)
    Post edited by Edgewood at 2013-01-07 20:43:05
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 1175
    One other game I teach them at home, which can help break that hunting drive run/chase/track pattern that Shigeru mentioned. I teach my dogs to down on command whenever they are in the yard, even if it is far away (using a verbal command and hand signal).

    You teach it by slowly requesting that they down where they are without coming close to you. Slowly they will down further and further away from you.

    Now the game. Sporadically, when they are in full blown chase and play mode with each other, I give the down command. If they have learned the game is fun, they stop play and immediately lay down. I do the same thing on leash walks, letting them sniff and run around on the leash, then asking for the down. Then reward them for listening so well.

    It truly does help, even in exciting situations. For instance, once Sachi dug out of the yard while I was nearby, but out working a horse in my riding arena. I spotted her, called her close to the arena, but didnt' want her in the arena because of the young age of the horse I had with me. I gave the down command and Sachi dropped like a rock and stayed laying perfectly still outside the arena (and I called my husband who came and retrieved the dog). If she wasn't so well trained, her running/chasing horses could have been bad (especially with the young horse I was working with).

    My dogs are not 100% reliable off lead all of the time because of their hunting drive, but teaching them games and learning to redirect and focus on me has been a huge help in containing their drive.

    Sorry so long....
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    @sandrat888 No problem! lol I do the same thing, but at 6:50am when I'm feeding the dogs. :) I'll make it a goal this year! I'll take her to classes again and work on redirecting at home. She's pretty good able catching on, but will decide to do her own things sometimes... I guess I can't ask for more from an independent breed.

    @TheWalrus Thanks a ton, Shigeru! I'll give it a try. She not big on playing with people (She loves playing with dogs), so playing tug-a-war might not work at all. h So we'll give running a try!

    @Edgewood That's awesome! I've always admired your Shikoku training ability! :) I will definitely give it a try! I almost alway see the squirrels before she does (I've gotten pretty good at it too! hahaha). When I do see them I try to take another path... but there are only two ways out of our gated community and they are paths full of trees. My husband usually carries her in and out because she gets so worked up. She even started to bark. She never use to bark! We'll see how it goes!

  • CarabooACarabooA
    Posts: 551
    @Edgewood @TheWalrus- what a great posts! I love the down game ideas - I need to print off both of your suggestions for my husband to read for working with Kunai! Thanks for sharing your game ideas - I think those are right up Kunai's alley for rewarding outside behaviors!!
    What day is it?
    Why, it's Today....
    Ah, my favorite day!

    PrettyKi11-13-12 OutsidePlease11-13-12-1Mirraheartssnow
    Kitora (Kai Ken), Kunai (Kai Ken) and Mirra (Siberian Husky/Border Collie)
  • The key to training is first figure it out what motivates your dog, be it food/treats, play a game or obsession of certain object (ball, flirt pole etc). Always remember it is what is rewarding to your dog and not what you think is rewarding. Rank your rewards. It really helps to write down the list of rewards and rank each. A+ rewards are things that your dog will take in most if not all circumstances.

    Once you figure it out what is rewarding for your dog, the next step in any training is to communicate what you want from the dog. Start with something simple. If it is recall, then first practice in a familiar environment when a dog is least distracted, then slowly work up the distraction to proof the dog's understanding of what is expected. The usual rule of thumb is to not increase the difficulty/criteria/distractions until the dog is 80% successful in an easier level.

    The most common training mistakes is usually the owner tries to increase criteria too fast/too hard, so the dog is frustrated with the lack or reward or low rate of reward that it just gives up. The other common training mistake is not raising the criteria after the dog masters the easy level, so the dog gets bored and never gets to practice the skill in a more challenging situation.

    A common example is most new dog owners will tout how their puppy learns to sit in a few hours or days, but it is usually siting in a very familiar environment with minimal distractions, such as their home and with the owner having a treat dangling right in front of the dog's nose. Owners think of "sit" or any other commands as "tricks", so it is not reliable unless all the stars aligned (little or no distractions, really yummy treats in hand and the dog is hungry etc).

    Any of the commands you teach need to be tested and proofed gradually to be reliable in all scenarios. If you don't train the dogs and build up their impulse control muscles, there is no way you can get them to respond to you when they are stimulated by their environments.
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 1175
    @sandrat888 - your post is spot on too. The goal is to very progressively train them in more distracting environments so that they learn impulse control. But to keep upping the ante, until they can focus on you in even the most distracting places (but do it slowly as Sandra suggests)
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    You guys are awesome! Thank you!!
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 1033
    I watched this video yesterday and was very impressed.:

    I'm going to try and work on down from a distance too. I went to Petco yesterday and worked with my two dogs throwing the "down" command in different situations. I think it's working. They needed to "down" before they were able to smell the bones, toys, or whatever they had on the shelves. We get our first long leash training on Saturday. Let's hope for the best.
  • TeamLaikaTeamLaika
    Posts: 302
    You have received some excellent advice already.
    The key point is to slowly add stimulus and excitement in the environment while maintaining focus from the dog. It's good to practice this with games of tug or something where the dog gets really revved, and then you intersperse episodes of self control (go to mat, sit-stay). You want them to be able to settle themselves even when aroused. I use 'wait' a lot. In many scenarios, it is easier for the Laikas to stop and wait for me to get there, than it is for them to turn around and come to me. Much like @Edgewood uses her distance downs, it can give you enough time to make a change. I use 'wait' every day. 'Wait' before you get out of the car, 'wait' at the door, 'wait' at curbs, etc. can't always see the cat or squirrel first. Sometimes you'll be walking along the sidewalk with three Laikas in a pleasant Virginian residential neighborhood at 5:30 am and someone will open a door and toss a cat out on the stoop in front of you (true story). Holy smokes, that house DELIVERS! I think they levitated - they were so amazed that they couldn't even bark at first... only very strange garbled sounds! Four years later, I guarantee they would remember and want to check that house ;)

    So, the point is that with these types of dogs, you can't expect them not to react. What you can expect is a better OFF SWITCH. And that takes lots of practice. And sometimes, you need to be a bit aversive to get it at first. She has to understand that if she is on a leash, she has to maintain some semblance of impulse control. I often walk all four dogs so there's no way I could carry them out of a squirrel infested area! I also refuse to be towed around. Work on a lot of 'transitions' and INSIST that she follow you. Small circles, U-turns, about-turns, fronts, dash back and forth...whatever. I use a command like that for sled dogs: "ON BY". Don't worry if she won't take a treat at first. Always offer it and look for small victories to build on. Maybe a default sit but she is still 'entranced' and gives an ear flick in your direction. Maybe just standing still with all four feet on the ground!

    One thing that no one has mentioned yet, is that it actually helps to put some hunting/searching behavior on cue. So periodically, we will be walking in the park and I will say "CHECK IT" and we all run excitedly together to investigate a tree, or hole, or culvert. Let them bark, dig, or investigate for a bit and then we cheerfully move on. Looks sort of nutty to passersby, but combining this with "ON BY" becomes a really fun game. Do you know about Premack Principle? This is sort of like saying "If you eat some broccoli, you can have ice cream". If you REALLY like ice cream, soon you'll even look forward to when broccoli is served. So, the deal is, Laikas - if you have some self control, then you can run over and check that tree. (Or, in Aza's case, you can go jump in the water!)
    Note: we NEVER do this with cats, or anything that they are not technically allowed to hunt.
  • "Premack Principle" will be your best friend if you know how to apply it in your training.

    When we walk in the neighborhood, Koji gets super excited when seeing squirrels. He initially would whine and lounge, trying to get to them, but has learned that if he can have some self control and sit down, I would release him to chase in some instances (he is usually on a flexi when we walk in our neighborhood or if it is a fairly low traffic area, I would drop his 6 feet leash, so he can chase the squirrels to the nearest tree). I am currently working on having him to not just only sit and waiting for the release word, but look up at me before I give him the go ahead.

    Both of my dogs practice self-control every day in our routines. The dogs sit at doors to be left out to the backyard, through doggie gates, to get out of the car, to get out of their crates. All the sits are offered by default without any commands, because they know it is what is asked of them.
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 1175
    Two more excellent posts!!

    @TeamLaika - I also use the command "on by" and "wait" just like you do. And while I don't have an official "check it" command, I do use the Premack Principle to help reward them when they show impulse control.

    And just as @Sandrat888 said, my dogs offer sits each day because they know what is expected that they show impulse control.

    And TeamLaika, that is a funny (or not so funny) story about the cat and the house! I bet you had your hands full with 4 dogs and I bet they would remember that house!
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    Saw this image and made me think of this thread


Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion