What is hunting behaviour and is it undesirable?

With many dogs, the hunting instinct (because it is an innate quality) is aroused as soon as an animal or person moves quickly away from the dog. The degree of hunting is different for each breed and even for each individual dog.

Generally speaking, the more a dog looks like a wolf, the better its hunting instinct is developed. Long snouts and upright ears are excellent hunters, short snouts and drooping ears less so.

Most dogs However, they hunt 'for fun' and actually only want to run very fast and stop moving. After that, the fun is over. Some specimens (such as the Alaskan malamute) really hunts to grab, kill, dissect and consume.

Hunting and chasing

The hunters are the dogs that really chase and (inhibited) seize a prey. They usually do this silently. The chasers - often the guards - make a lot of noise and do not chase.

After all, they must not abandon their homes. Thus, the Rottweiler It has virtually no hunting instinct but is a great scout. Herd guards can also make a lot of noise to disturb and distract a possible predator, after which the hunt is stopped.

Heroic tales of large mountain dogs killing entire packs of wolves together are great for the evening by the fireplace with a stiff drink, but they do not make much sense.

Predator pattern

The degree of hunting instinct is represented by the so-called predator pattern. It looks like this:

orient -> fix -> stalk -> pursue -> grab -> bite -> kill -> dissect -> consume

At birth, puppies have the least developed pattern which consists of orienting (where is the nipple) -> consuming (drinking). As the dog develops, the predator pattern sometimes becomes stronger and sometimes not.

There is clearly a connection here with the development of the dog's appearance. Dogs that as an adult still strongly resemble a pup (short snout, big eyes) have a poorly developed predator pattern. They often cannot even fixate or make an attempt but it makes no impression.

For those who find it interesting, two books are highly recommended: How Dogs Work (Coppinger) and The Dog's Mind (Fogle).

Unwanted behaviour?

As with barking Hunting is almost always undesirable in our society. The number of off-leash areas for dogs is decreasing due to hunting, for example, game.

Hunting is so deeply rooted that it cannot be unlearned. It can be controlled, but this does not lessen the desire to hunt. As soon as the control (owner) is not present, many avid hunters will still start to chase.

In some situations (with less motivated hunters), distracting and reconditioning (chasing a ball or a stick) still works, but when the drive is very high, there is no stopping it.

Who ever Border Collies has seen at work with sheep know what I mean ...

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