Socializing Your Dog: Prey Drive

An important concept to understand as a new dog owner is prey drive. This is a little-known concept that is important to how you decide to train, socialize and discipline your dog.

There are a lot of misconceptions about prey drive. Prey drive is basically an element of your dog’s temperment that influences how they interact and perceive other dogs, small animals, birds, and people. Like most traits of your dog, prey drive is determined by breed and heredity. However, like all things, natural prey drive is not the 100% determinant of your dog’s behavior. It’s very easy to villify or blame certain breeds– pit bulls and rotts come to mind– for having relatively higher prey drives than other dogs. But like all things when it comes to your dog, it comes down to the owner. Proper training and socialization overcomes inherited traits.

So how does prey drive manifest itself? One way is the intensity with which your dog will focus in on an object that it is chasing. For example, some dogs will chase an object with a powerful drive to catch it. This is fine when it’s chasing a ball, but this will also manifest itself in chasing birds, rodents, and– here’s where we have to be careful– other pets and children. See the importance of training prey drive now? We’ll cover training tips next time.

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