What is hunting behavior and is it undesirable?

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

Strongly generalizing, it can be said that the more the dog resembles the wolf in appearance, the better developed its hunting instinct. Long snouts and upright ears hunt excellently, short snouts and drooping ears much less so.

Most dogs hunt "for fun," however, and really only want to run really fast and stop movement. After that, the fun is over. Some specimens (such as the Alaskan malamute) really hunts to seize, kill, dissect and consume.

Hunting and chasing

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

After all, they should not abandon home and hearth. Thus, the Rottweiler Virtually no hunting instinct but chases like the best. Herd guards can also make a tremendous amount of noise to disturb and distract any predator after which the hunt is cut short.

Heroic tales of large mountain dogs jointly killing entire packs of wolves are wonderful for the evening by the fireplace with a stiff drink but they don't 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 -> seize/bite -> kill -> dissect -> consume

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

There is clearly a connection here with the development of the dog's appearance. Dogs that as adults still look very much like a puppy (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 behavior?

As with barking hunting is almost always undesirable in our society. The number of off-leash areas for dogs is decreasing greatly because of 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 the chase.

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

Who ever Border collies has seen at work with sheep knows what I mean ...

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