Prey Drive Problem - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-07-2011, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Prey Drive Problem

So as of recently (past month) I have started running into prey drive issues with Ze'eva wanting to chase after game (deer, rabbits, etc...) and ignore all commands what so ever. On a couple occasions this has hit the point of scary as she will leave the wooded area I am doing some independent training exercises in with my girlfriend and she will start chasing a deer and cross roads. She ends up returning but only when she is at the point of total exhaustion. I am not sure what to do to counter this... As a SAR handler this seems like a difficult ordeal since we rely on this strong prey drive for their work but on the other hand if this happens mid search it would be disastrous. I have considered getting an e-collar and training with that now but am looking for other ideas as well. Ze'eva is still fairly young but not young enough for this to be an excuse for the behavior.

Ze'eva Li'ora - GSD 06/26/2010 [SAR/Wilderness Air Scent]
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-07-2011, 08:13 PM
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Work on your control in controlled situations--work on motivating her recall and teaching her a down on command from anywhere close by.

If you don't have control up close, you won't have control at a distance. Once you have control up close, work on extending the distance and adding temptations--work to the point that you can tell her to down, throw a ball, and she holds the down until you release her to go for the ball.

Once you've gotten a better recall and fast down at a distance, you may find that the crittering will go away on its own. If it hasn't stopped at that point and she obeys your recalls and/or down commands under other circumstances, then I would look at an electric collar. However, the ecollar doesn't *train* the dog--you should do the foundation work first to teach her what you want, motivate her to respond, and make sure that she knows what you want.

Until then, you need to keep her physically restrained in a fenced area, on leash, or on a 20+ foot drag line if need be, so that she doesn't have an opportunity to self-reward with a fun chase of live prey.

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-07-2011, 08:43 PM
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I'm not sure what it is that makes some more inclined to chase game than others -

Grim is great (maybe because of early time on a farm-he has the hunt drive but no inclindation to chase critters) where Cyra was a horrible horrible game chaser. We did resort to the ecollar with her using Lou Castle's crittering protocol and it did, in fact, allow her to *Think* not to chase game...you could actually see the doggie gears moving in her brain. I was able to wean her off of the collar but she always needed some refreshers.

If you want to try without the ecollar first, I would eliminate air scent problems off lead for awhile and find a sympathetic farmer (be careful around horses though because some of them have an agenda about dogs) and spend a lot of time desensitizng her to critters that move in jerky fast ways.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 05:11 AM
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how old is the dog?Yes, crittering can be a problem. And,when push comes to shove,the dog will critter. You need to get that problem under control before worrying about anything else. Yes, I would get an e collar. Just understand that from now on,the dog will KNOW when that collar is not on. You will need to work in one or a dummy from now on.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 07:21 AM
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I think I would disagree that SAR would is based on prey drive...I think you can safely elmininate that from your training and solely focus on HUNT drive (distinct difference in my mind).

I agree with Christine that this is a control issue and you need to work on engagement, focus, and recall at short distances, gradulally adding in distractions.

What are you doing for subject loyalty type exercises? My first incling is to suspect that she isn't "high" enough on hunt drive to stay focused on what she is supposed to be doing. Maybe step it back a knotch and get her out of her mind for "hunting" for things again....(NOT CHASING!)

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 07:30 AM
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If hunt drive and prey drive are different I would think they are closely linked because the goal/incentive is the same. A dog hunts in order to locate prey. If his eyes see it
before his nose gets him there then all the better, he is close to what he was after.
JMHO it comes down to training for focus, ignoring distractions.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 07:42 AM
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Prey drive is based on visual stimulus...chasing a flirt pole, interest in an animal or person running away, movement of the sleeve (ie being "sleeve obsessed) in SchH. Things like that....

Hunt drive is removal of the visual stimulus and what extent the dog will go to hunt for the object MINUS the prey stimulus. Generally you would build up hunt drive by adding a combo of both...throwing a toy they can see fly away into tall bushes...the prey aspect is the toy flying through the air...the hunt aspect is it now being hidden and them have to search for something they can't see. A good "nose dog" should be able to search all day without the reward of that visual stimulus...and stay in hunt drive and be able to ignore the inticing "prey." If they are leaving "hunt" mode and letting "prey" take over, I'd want to decrease the prey aspect and focus on building drive in hunt mode.

If prey is a problem with a dog, it would seem prudent to eliminate any kind of reward from prey-based activities and focus on making the ultimate reward come from ignoring that prey drive and finding that person......

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 07:49 AM
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I don't think the prey drive itself is the issue - it makes for an excellent reward system. And crittering is not always visual. Often it is the game scent that pulls them off. What they need to learn is that they NEVER get ANY satisfaction from chasing game...and that is a consistent thing. The only way they satisfy their drives is by finding the victim and getting you to them.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 08:57 AM
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this presents a big problem -- when providing dogs to the rcmp I know that they would out of hand dismiss (reject) a dog that "got in to animal". That dog would be unreliable. You could be tracking along running behind the dog thinking wow ! he's really on to it . Meanwhile, he has left the real track and picked up and is following deer or bear . How will you know the dog is on the scent of some game .
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
And crittering is not always visual. Often it is the game scent that pulls them off. What they need to learn is that they NEVER get ANY satisfaction from chasing game...and that is a consistent thing. The only way they satisfy their drives is by finding the victim and getting you to them.
Very true...guess for some reason I had in my head that it was a "see and run" thing, but going back and re-reading it didn't really specify if she was seeing and seeing or scenting, finding, and chasing.

The second part was what I was getting at....more subject loyalty....they are so high on finding the person that no critter would be able to pull them off that goal.

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