Trick Training. For Prey Drive?

5 Jan 2022, 7:47 a.m. by Tracey McLennan

When high prey drive causes you problems, it can easily take over your life. Walks are a source of stress, not relaxation. Even though you love your dog loads, life can feel hard. Worries about walks can really suck the joy out of life.

The temptation is to focus on the problem and work on it. I know that it’s common for people to spend all of their walk time – and lots of time at home too thinking about prey drive. Sometimes doing something else can really help. My bullmastiff, Calgacus did have a bit of a prey drive – but the main issue with him was dog-dog aggression. I spent every walk working on it constantly. It sucked the joy out of life. Then I started doing some trick training with him. He learned lots of different ways of moving his body. Something amazing happened as we kept up the training. He started to get better with other dogs. He learned that he had more options than he’d thought and that started a shift in his responses to other dogs. He ended up being really good with other dogs and I know that the trick training was a big part of it.

I would strongly recommend that you resist the temptation to make everything about dealing with your prey drive problem and find fun things to do as well. If your dog doesn’t know any tricks, that’s okay. Just pick an activity that you and your dog love and make time for it every day. If you can’t do it outside because your dog is too distracted, do it inside the house. Just taking that time every day to do something fun will help.


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Hi - I'm Tracey

I am the author of Canine aggression: Rehabilitating an aggressive dog with kindess and compassion and founder of Best Dog Learning and Stuff Ltd. I specialise in helping people with dogs who have a high prey drive. I have an honours degree in Canine behaviour and training, am a Tellington TTouch practitioner, and an ACE Advanced Tutor. I am currently studying for an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Training.

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