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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone here successfully trained recall with an EXTREMELY high prey drive dog?

I don't just mean the usual, "Oh fun, a squirrel!" kind of prey drive. I mean the kind where the dog loses all ability to listen to any commands, jumps a 6' foot fence and takes off down the railway tracks chasing a rabbit kind of prey drive (scariest day of my life!) or the kind where her entire body is vibrating and she starts making weird squealing noises because she can see a squirrel 100 feet away in a tree.

My girl goes absolutely CRAZY when she sees anything that even remotely resembles prey and I want nothing more than to have rock-solid recall. I've tried nearly everything and when there's no prey around, she's great but as soon as there's prey or the potential for prey, forget it.

I have talked to a lot of trainers & dog owners and honestly, a lot of them just don't seem to understand the level of prey drive I'm dealing with. If you really get it, I'd love your advice!
 

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A leash is the only thing that works with prey drive that strong. I have a hound that would follow his nose 10 miles away from me before he would look up and realize I was not there.
 

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Raffles. In the garden, if a cat runs nearby, or a wild animal in the paddocks, he is that squealing vibrating dog. The only way I can get through to him is to stand by him with super treats (which he ignores to start with obviously), talking calmly, and he is actually getting better. Not in his reaction but the response time he takes to come out of it. I can generally entice him into the house now where he'll calm down. You're going to need higher fences! That's how Raffles broke his claw as he stands up on the fence.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I was afraid of that answer. :( Do you ever let your hound off leash?

Not only does my girl have extremely high prey drive but she also has A LOT of energy. I can't imagine never letting her off leash. I let her off because she desperately needs to be able to run free but I just have to be really aware of our surroundings and know there is a certain amount of risk involved.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The only way I can get through to him is to stand by him with super treats (which he ignores to start with obviously), talking calmly, and he is actually getting better.
Part of my problem is that I'm pretty sure I could be holding a live squirrel and she would still want to chase the one across the way. I've tried the "super treats" thing and it just doesn't work. It's honestly like everything else disappears when there is prey around and the only thing she can see is the pudgy little squirrel.
 

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I was afraid of that answer. :( Do you ever let your hound off leash?

Not only does my girl have extremely high prey drive but she also has A LOT of energy. I can't imagine never letting her off leash. I let her off because she desperately needs to be able to run free but I just have to be really aware of our surroundings and know there is a certain amount of risk involved.
Enclosed dog parks work for running around.
 

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Out of hunting season, I let Raffles off leash. Obviously it depends on the dog, Raffles is a sprinter and has no stamina for long chases. His recall is pretty good once prey has disappeared, so I let him disappear for 15 mins, and he'll come back. Ginny the terrier on the other hand, has unlimited stamina, and has twice made her own way back home but we haven't done any recall work with her at all. I'm lucky not living in a high risk (traffic) area, but it's always a worry. I'm thinking that that this year I might get bells for them so I can at least hear where they are! Very high value treats do help, don't underestimate the power of a piece of raw deer!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Raw deer! I'll have to try that. She's already on a raw diet so I'm sure she'd love that!

Yeah, fences don't really exist in her world. She jumps 6ft fences easily, so we can't really go to regular city dog parks. She jumps those 4ft fences in her sleep.
 

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Enclosed dog parks work for running around.
Not everyone has enclosed dog parks, or like me, lucky enough to have an enclosed paddock. I do feel for those that don't, it's a constant toss up between letting your dog have some freedom or not. Raffles is another "born to run" dog. He hates being on a (even long) lead. Ginny is happy as long as there's a vole hole, Raffles wants to run after deer and wild boar. It's hard striking a balance.
 

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It's been almost 2 years and almost no progress in recall on my high prey drive dog. That terrier prey drive is NOT to be messed with, lol. Luckily she's not very smart and can't figure out how to get through a half-closed door, let alone jump a fence to chase something on the other side. So we either hang out in the enclosed dog park at night (fences are probably about 6') or long line. Otherwise she's never off leash because I KNOW she'd go after something and not look back for miles, happily!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It's been almost 2 years and almost no progress in recall on my high prey drive dog. That terrier prey drive is NOT to be messed with, lol.
Makes me wonder if Yoki has some pit or staffordshire in her. Everyone says she looks like a pit mix but we were told she's a lab x cane corso.

As for her prey drive - it sounds like we're in the same boat. It's been about 3 years for us and the only change is that she doesn't vibrate as much when she sees pidgeons anymore but she still wants to kill them.

Sometimes I think it's a miracle we successfully intro'd her to our cat. Just yesterday they were snuggling on the couch together. I just don't understand why we're not making any progress with other prey.
 

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I have 2 hounds that cannot be off leash. I don't know what I would do in your situation though because we have a 5ft fence and the dogs respect the boundary.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That looks awesome! How did you teach them to pull a scooter and what kind of harness do you use?

Also - you don't find they try to take off chasing a squirrel? I'm just imagining myself in a ditch with dragging an empty scooter through the forest! haha
 

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That looks awesome! How did you teach them to pull a scooter and what kind of harness do you use?

Also - you don't find they try to take off chasing a squirrel? I'm just imagining myself in a ditch with dragging an empty scooter through the forest! haha
I am 61 years old so as you can see they have not killed me yet. I looked up how to teach sledding. To teach mush, right, left ,stop The double leash is a little stretchy and I bought it from the scooter site. Mine is a Diggler but they don't seem to have a site anymore. I have had mine for about 7 years. They do have brakes and boy do you need them because they can get you going really fast. I defiantly wears them out.
 

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You're never going to be able to teach her to recall from a fixated, adrenalized state.... the key will be to teach her an alternative behavior when she first notices a prey animal, before she fixates. Whether she genuinely "isn't hearing" you (ever been so hyperfocused on something you don't notice anything else going on around you?), or is just ignoring you in favor of acting like a spaz, the solution is the same, and hinges on catching and redirecting her before she fixates.

To do this, you have to figure out a way to work under threshold, whether that means finding a stationary "prey" animal so as to not provoke her prey drive as much (maybe a neighborhood cat who always hangs out in the same location, or if the distance is great enough you could probably even use a small, squirrel shaped stuffed toy), and/or working at a great enough distance that she isn't obsessing (there is always some middle ground, however finite, where the dog sees a trigger, but isn't immediately fixated- it may be 100', it may be 1000').

Ideally, to start, you want to be far enough away/low enough activity that she merely glances at it, and goes on about her business. When she sees it, call her or ask her to look/focus on you, or whatever replacement behavior you want, then reward heavily. When she is consistently performing the replacement behavior upon seeing prey item at whatever distance/whatever level of activity (without being asked- just because she knows what it means), then you can move slightly closer, repeat, move closer, repeat. Same with increasing activity level of the prey item.

Personally, I like to use being allowed to chase as a reward for not chasing prey items as well (Premack I guess?)- so in those cases, it would go like: dog sees prey animal, dog turns focus to me, I praise and/or reward, I release dog ("ok", "go", whatever), dog chases, I either recall or retrieve dog after chase is over. Eventually, the dog learns that if they "ask" by giving me their full attention, I just might let them give chase. My 2 off leash ok prey driven dogs have also had high toy drive, and I've had good success with calling them, producing a toy, and engaging them in play instead. Of course, both of these are still contingent on catching the dog before they fixate.

I would also work on teaching a good "leave it", "look", and recall while playing with toys, particularly when she's super amped up and really into it. I have an easier time with Bus because he's learned to keep one ear tuned in even when in (toy) drive, so if I yell "OFF" while he's tearing off after a rabbit, he will usually at least slow a hair to consider, which gives me a decent chance at recalling him. Honestly, the biggest problem I have with him is when we're near water, he'd run by a dozen rabbits and a basket of squirrels to dive into a half frozen swamp right about now. I think one good way to work on impulse control with a toy driven dog is by placing a toy they like down, then working obedience around it, releasing them periodically to get it as a reward. If they are toy driven, that is a much bigger distraction than toy on your person, and they learn the concept of still listening even when they REALLY want to do something else. I guess you could do the same with a really food motivated dog, but toys are much easier IME.

Granted, no training is ever 100% effective, but it is still a good idea to practice these scenarios, as you never know when something unexpected may happen and you may find your dog not under your physical control (I once had a dog chase a cat and hit the heavy duty leash snap off the corner of our cement house foundation just right that it bent it nearly straight, releasing her). I would still not let her off leash in public, as if anything happens, you/she could be punished, but it sounds like working on this would still benefit both of you, even if it doesn't open further off leash possibilities.
 

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I have this issue forming, my jagd is 4 months and of course, uber prey drive, and it hasn't even officially "kicked in" yet. She was doing so well on recall I got overconfident...which led to her snatching the rodent, and taking off with it. Once she had the prey all she wanted was to get as far away as possible with her prize which was a very terrifying idea. I bought a long line, and will now keep it on her whenever I take her for exercise, even in fenced in areas. At least that way if she takes off, I can *hopefully* catch the long line before she gets too far, and hopefully, will prevent her from gulping down any more little animals. My idea is she can just run around and drag the line and still exercise. Not sure if that's gonna work out or if she will just be tripping over it and getting snagged on everything.
 

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I have this issue forming, my jagd is 4 months and of course, uber prey drive, and it hasn't even officially "kicked in" yet. She was doing so well on recall I got overconfident...which led to her snatching the rodent, and taking off with it. Once she had the prey all she wanted was to get as far away as possible with her prize which was a very terrifying idea. I bought a long line, and will now keep it on her whenever I take her for exercise, even in fenced in areas. At least that way if she takes off, I can *hopefully* catch the long line before she gets too far, and hopefully, will prevent her from gulping down any more little animals. My idea is she can just run around and drag the line and still exercise. Not sure if that's gonna work out or if she will just be tripping over it and getting snagged on everything.
In the past I used a long lines, some 20 and some 40 foot long. I found them excellent. The lines, attached to harnesses, not collars, were left trailing. Out on the moors, they would occasionally get caught under rocks, wrapped round exposed tree roots and similar. Which, in itself, I considered a training aid. The dog was stopped from doing what he wanted to do without any input from me, and had to look to me to be released.

In parks or similar places, I could shout to people to step on the line, again the dog was brought to his senses without any input from me.

I no longer use any training aids as I have managed to train my dogs quite well. Although, I must admit, none of mine had very high prey drive (just sheep, rabbits, deer :D ).

There are seminars run in the UK specifically to address/divert high prey drive, perhaps you have some running in the US/Canada? Worth finding out and investing in your dog's future?
 

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I shouldn't use the word 'issue' cause I expected it and its not really an issue I guess, I do like that drive, just don't like them actually catching and killing things. I am going to get her into the sport of barn hunt, and tracking. Yes its nice when the long line gets snagged and they look at you with such gratitude for untangelling them hehe.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
he'd run by a dozen rabbits and a basket of squirrels to dive into a half frozen swamp
That line had me laughing out loud! hahah :D

Thanks for your great advice. I've tried teaching "look" but I'm not able to keep her attention on me even if I catch her right as she sees the prey. However, I can get her to "sit" and "wait" for a few seconds but as soon as the prey moves again, she's off on the chase.

Based on what you're saying I wonder if I should try just working on extending the "wait" for now and then move to look. I'm thinking it might be better to start by reinforcing what she can (sort of) do before jumping right into the look command.
 
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