17. Predatory Behavior
When dogs are purchased as companions, however, those predatory instincts can present a problem.
Predatory instincts can focus on some very unfortunate victims: babies and other small children; cats; hamsters, gerbils, and other rodents kept as pets; squirrels, birds, and other small animals; wild animals that can be dangerous to pet dogs (like porcupines and raccoons); and, finally, cars.
Dogs’ predatory instincts tend to be stimulated by sight, sound, and smell. Small, rapidly moving animals are especially likely to be seen as prey (unfortunately, that can include babies). Unfortunately, a dog that injures a neighborhood pet or child may have to be euthanized. And dogs can be severely injured by inappropriate “prey” like raccoons and cars.
There are a few things you can do to curb predatory behavior. As always, prevention is the best cure. If your dog has shown predatory behavior, keep him on a leash or in a fenced yard. Next, teach Fido to reliably come when called. The best way to do this is by giving him a treat every time he comes to you.
Finally, reward him for ignoring prey. With Fido on a leash, go for a walk in a place where he usually spots his preferred “prey”. As soon as he spots his prey, stop moving and ignore him. Keep ignoring him until he turns to look at you; then, offer him a treat. By doing this consistently, you can teach him that he gets rewarded for ignoring prey.