No way i can stop prey drive... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:01 AM Thread Starter
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No way i can stop prey drive...

Shoot - things were just going to well and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop - well it has....

She's a bullet, she's a rocket, she's ON!. I wanted a pet and she's shown me she wants so much more. She physically shouldn't be able to be as fast as she is (loong but lean body - slightly S O) She shouldn't all of the sudden at 15 mos old - show me a super charged dog. For gosh sakes - she's a byb work/show hodge podge. She's like a thoroughbred out of the starting gate every time I open the door.... I let her out in the front yard tonight, first time if 5 mos because she can clear that fence now without even touching it -. She went immediately to one bush and hurt something bad I think it was a wild cat - just saw a flash of white and red.....

She's in her room now - no bad dog just a time out, but she knows I'm not happy.....- but she's in the grip of her natural self and I cannot try to train against that.... She has already told me, that I will get bit - oh, before anybody freaks out on this comment - She would never bite me UNLESS my body comes between her and her prey. OK? got that? I can get her at any point prior to her locking into prey and she will stop. She has told me that if I get in the way of her "target" - once she has locked on - she won't be responsible because she's not there - it's just drive... This is my 5th GSD and when "she talks to me on this prey stuff, I listen".

Bailiff - help please on once the prey drive is triggered.. Thanks
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 04:07 AM
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Because her prey drive is super charged, I would try a shock collar on her. It may seem cruel, but it could save her life/keep her from getting lost. My male shepherd, Sarge, was just like that when I let him out of the house around the age of one. We live in the country, and he got after a huge buck. Thank the good Lord he chased her to the back of our land (came back after awhile or I would have lost him). If he had chased her toward the road, he may have been hit by car and killed. I put the shock collar on him the next time I let him outside. I had it turned on the lowest possible setting, but it worked when he got after a squirrel in the woods. He came straight back when I called/screamed (like a crazy woman) his name and hit the button on the shock collar. Do I regret using it? No, I do not. The times we go outside or in the woods for a run or swim (in the pond) I can call his name (if he scents something), and he comes straight back to me. So, i attribute the shock collar to basically saving him from getting lost or killed. That may not be a solution to you cause all dogs are different, but it was one for me that actually worked. As all know who are on here, the good news is that German Shepherds are extremely smart and learn really quick!

Last edited by srfwheat; 09-12-2015 at 04:14 AM.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 04:26 AM
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it sounds like there's some history there that I won't pretend to know with my recent return to the board, but while you await Bailiff - something very simple that can be done right away to break this cycle is to walk her outside, on leash, every time so that she isn't practicing this ingrained routine of bolting out the door fully charged and into the hunt.

also, prey drive is not something that can just be trained out of a dog. sure the impulse control is one side of it but she will also need a (controlled) outlet so you may want to think about what options are available for the two of you.

you don't strike me as someone that would be interested in remote collar work, but I'm quickly becoming one of those people who mentions flirt poles as a god send to address/assist (keyword, assist not solve) with many things but I love them and have had lots of success in a variety of ways. for prey drive specifically it allows them to "catch" the prey which is more rewarding and less frustrating than chasing after a squirrel that they never catch (but that hope is there every time the door is opened).... it also allows you to incorporate obedience as you please during these flirt pole sessions. for a time period I'd set my dog up on a long line in an area we frequent with lots of squirrels - he'd see one and with no thought he'd take off, hit the end of the line which administered a correction and the second he looked back, I was ready with a moving lure that redirected him onto a "prey" that he knew he could catch... the catch also resulted in interactive tug sessions, a release, and another catch, tug, etc. thru this I was able to condition the response of seeing a squirrel and immediately look back at me. obviously I don't always walk around with a pole but it gives me that second where is attention is on me and not the squirrel. I don't recommend this (main reason is the possible cause of injury) but it's an example of how the tool worked for me. I make my own but they can also be purchased online.

Good luck as I look forward to learning more about Summer

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 60lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 60lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 09-12-2015 at 04:35 AM.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 10:33 AM
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Do you think if you got her excited about a toy you were holding,then threw it out of the door for her to fetch back to you,that you could form a new habit?

Another thing to try which works for us is I give my dogs the wait command and step outside,closing the door and leaving them inside.After a moment I let them out and they seem to be more interested in what I am up to than anything in the yard.
One other thing I do is to open the door and give them a direction to go in.I send them to the car,the outdoor kennel,or tell them to "get your squeaky!"

Like Fodder suggestions,teach her an alternate behavior of whatever she will get excited about.Hope this helps

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 11:40 AM
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*to be clear, I mean walk her out so that she's no longer charging out.... but as soon as she's settled the leash can come off. she may still run around looking for critters later but controlling her exits seems like a necessary first step.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 60lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 60lbs of Go!!!!!
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 01:18 PM
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Fodders advice would be a solid first step. She needs to be either on a leash or long line ideally with a corrective collar or have an e collar on.

I don't necessarily recommend you do things the way I do them because you don't have the experience that it takes to get it right. You should check out Lou Castles crittering protocol.


I would punish the dog every time it is about to take off after something. The dog should no longer be allowed to critter anything. No chasing butterflies, squirrels, deer whatever. As soon as I see the dogs ears perk up and it attention focus on something I'd correct the dog. If the dogs attention again shifts to the target I'd correct again. The dog needs to be snapped out of it and it needs to be made very clear attempting to critter results in bad things happening. It wouldn't even necessarily be a bad thing to cause the dog to go into a bit of avoidance. To avert gaze when it spots a squirrel or a cat and look at you instead.

You need to have the equipment in place to prevent the dog from following through with the rest of the behavior. It needs to be stopped at step one of the behavior which is the precursor behavior to the entire rest of the program the dog then goes into. The focus and intent to chase. It needs to be brought to a halt there. If the dog takes off you are way way way late.

I'd recommend you go with Lou because I tend to go high on the collar (in case of ecollar) and really even prong from the get go. If I were to for some reason cause a superstitious association I can see it and fix it quickly so I never worry about stuff like that. The other thing is I am aware of some things like how P+ can be seen as high intensity R- and am conscientious to adjust how i stim or use a prong to prevent the dog from misunderstanding a correction.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 01:48 PM
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Letting her get away with the behavior repeatedly is sure not going to help your problem. My male has extreme prey drive and heck no I don't care he is NOT going to blow me off like that. We started working with an ecollar(though I have more experience with training dogs and have good timing so I'd recommend a trainer to help learn that aspect). The first thing we did was hammer in a solid recall(the collar is a blessing for this) and like Fodder suggested I also used a flirt pole to help impulse control. With all of this I was able to call him off a herd of deer on a hike, stopped him dead in his tracks and he came back to my side. I wouldn't trust clicker training and cookies to get me those results.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the suggestions! I will try the prong first. I just got the quick release one so it will be much easier for me. If it doesn't work it will definitely be the e-collar. While I'm doing this, I might as well bring the long line and train more on recall while we're at it. Don't know why I only associated use of the prong for corrections on walks.

I tried to redirect with a ball. Shoot - she does it with the ball in her mouth! It must look so strange to the squirrels - a dog charging them with something in her mouth that goes squeek squeek every time her feet hit the ground. It looks ridiculous.

I really blew it by allowing this. The reason I did was because it's such great exercise for her. I had no idea that it would ramp up to this level. Your not kidding Bailiff when you say it's way too late once the behavior has started. Her focus is committed to her target.

The flirt pole concerns me because there is a history of hd in sib and sire and those sharp turns don't look good.

I'll check out Lou's technique too so I'll have a plan B if the prong isn't effective but I think it will work (but will take some time).
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Lesson 1 done She didn't bolt out the back door. We found a very accommodating grasshopper to help out. She got frustrated reared up a few times then tried to bolt - a yelp and I immediately put her into a heel and we moved away from the bug. Took her about halfway up the block and found a squirrel - she ignored it! Her ears were back and her tail was a little tucked but no crazy whining and pulling.

That's all good but won't she revert when the collar's off? Or, will she really form a negative association by repetition and stop the behavior? It just seems like they're smarter than that....
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 04:32 PM
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It sounds like your dog has a low threshold as well as a high prey drive. It's a dangerous combo. Cruz is also in the same category. I've worked a ton with him and still have to be vigil when in high distraction areas. Thing is, you have to gain control by what ever means necessary as soon as possible. This prey drive can graduate from chasing birds to cats then to other dogs and then people. I train a lot in threshold with Cruz, in which in my opinion doesn't ever go away but can be controlled like prey drive.

I just spent about $4000 dollars on Cruz for a TPLO surgery. I associated this injury with his low threshold and high prey drive. We have a deck on the back of our house and he is absolutely obsessed with the next door neighbor and their dogs. He can hear things I can't, like when they are out in their backyard. So when the door is opened, he would shoot out, stand on the top step of the deck, scan our backyard and their backyard and if he even thought he heard something, it blazing down the stairs and leaping off about 6 to 7 steps up to the ground. This all happened in a matter of seconds. I started training basic stuff like a "Wait" command when he got to the stairs. It forced him to wait until I could catch up to him. Then control his decent. I also worked on a "this way" command to make him come and walk in my direction. This way I can control his focus. If they are outside, we can go poo on the other side of the yard then slowly work my way towards the other fence.

But like mentioned, you need a long leash or just leash to start with. I also use an e-collar.
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