What’s It About?
Almost every dog and some more than others have some degree of prey drive, that is the chase instinct! You may experience it when your otherwise well-mannered dog suddenly takes off chasing after a rabbit, squirrel, or a jogger. The old approach to solving this problem involved the use of “corrective” devices like choke chains and electronic fences. A better approach includes training and management techniques that reward your dog for choosing to focus on and stay near you, the owner.
Clarissa von Reinhardt has been working on the issue of how to deal with unwanted predatory behaviour for many years. In this fascinating and inspiring book, she takes the readers step by step through her training methods, inviting them to learn more about a dog’s complex spectrum of behaviour, and ultimately to maintain as much control as possible over the urge to chase prey.
Clarissa has operated her own dog training school, Animal Learn, for nearly fifteen years and lectures on training dogs with behavioural disorders.
Published 2010 Dogwise Publishing
DOGS IN CANADA
“Dogs with a strong instinct to chase things can be frustrating to manage. A dog that suddenly takes off after anything he considers prey – squirrels, joggers, bikes, cars – can be a danger to himself, his owner, others and whatever he’s chasing. Von Reinhardt describes predatory behaviour and takes the reader step by step through her training methods, including such intriguing techniques as the “sausage tree,” and addresses the causes of failure in training. Chase! delves into a fascinating and complex behaviour, and offers a training program that leads to as much control as possible over the urge to chase, while rejecting the use of aversive stimuli”.
IN DEPTH REVIEW
~~The majority of dogs, and some more than others, possess a degree of prey drive. Prey drive is the natural instinct responsible for turning your civilised canine into an unharnessed hunter, causing him to run away from you at top speed after moving objects such as rabbits, squirrels or even joggers and cyclists.
In this book, Clarissa Von Reinhardt, owner of her own dog school, Animal Learn, and lecturer on training dogs with behavioural disorders, shares with us her clear and concise training methods for dealing with unwanted predatory behaviour.
Von Reinhardt teaches us the complex spectrum of behaviour that goes with prey drive, and introduces us to humane and effective techniques that reward the dog for focusing on you.
Chapter one begins by looking at predatory behaviour. Von Reinhardt explains that predation is influenced by both genetics and environmental factors. She then moves on to look at predatory behaviour patterns which are often playfully experimented with and perfected during the puppy stage. These include stalking, intense staring, the ‘attack’, the grab-bite and carrying away and guarding prey. Von Reinhardt continues by explaining the predatory sequence including a discussion of killing and killing strategies, how chasing prey is a self-rewarding action, breed disposition, body language and expression and the senses.
Chapter two moves on to training fundamentals and equipment. Von Reinhardt presents us with the techniques that she has used for many years and found to be the most successful in dealing with chase and prey. She discusses the elements of training which include your own body language, tone of voice, acting instead of reacting, food rewards and introducing distractions. She also gives advice on recommended training equipment, explaining how to use what she describes as a field leash.
Chapter three focuses on communicative walks as a key to training success. Von Reinhardt explains how we can use walks as a time to build a strong bond between ourselves and our dog, using interaction and communication to teach the dog to focus on us instead of his surroundings. She explains the key to this is to make sure that we are focusing on the dog, also providing us with some examples of activities to engage in whilst walking. Von Reinhardt also tells us when and where to go for communicative walks, as well as how to learn to watch the environment, so you can anticipate coming into contact with potential prey and put your dog on a lead.
Chapter four explains the behaviours that your dog needs to master in order for you to be able to control his prey drive. These include a sit and a stay as well as a number of recall commands and signals. Von Reinhardt gives us some advice on how to successfully teach these behaviours and explains the difference between rest and movement behaviours. She then provides us with lots of different exercises to help keep your dog with you on walks. These include changing directions, turn around, remaining on a path, move slowly as well as automatic sitting at the sight of prey. Von Reinhardt also shares with us the most common sources of failure in training.
Chapter five looks at play and other activities. Von Reinhardt tells us which type of play activities we need to avoid with a dog that exhibits a strong prey drive, as well as explaining why. She then moves on to demonstrate some more suitable games, such as hiding treats, digging, nosework, learning and problem solving games.
In chapter six, Von Reihardt explains the training devices and methods to avoid. She tell us why punishment is ineffective in reducing prey drive and also why we should steer clear of devices such as electric shock collars, spray collars, lithium salts, weighted saddle bags, etc. Von Reinhardt then looks at which training methods and activities to avoid, explaining why commonly believed strategies such as hiding from your dog and adaption strategies do not work.
Finally, Von Reinhardt provides us with a postscript, detailing the story of Fengari, a dog with a prey drive so strong, it could not be brought under control. She then gives us some closing thoughts to think about, explaining that far too many people believe that unwanted predatory behaviours justify the use of sometimes harsh and cruel training methods.
Von Reinhardt equips us with the tools to successfully manage our dog’s predatory instincts. Dee Ganley describes this book as “One of the best books you can read to help guardians and their prey-driven dogs help one another successfully become a team – and to strengthen the bond between them.”