Has anyone successfully trained their dog not to chase deer?

(31 Posts)
sophy Fri 14-Nov-08 10:47:43

Without resorting to electric collar?

We live in a very rural area and the dog has recently killed two young deer on walks. We muzzle her now but she still chases them, obviously the deer get very scared and panic and I am worried there could still be an accident.

She usually comes when I blow the whistle, but when she has the scent of a deer nothing can distract her.

Grateful for any advice!

shitehawk Fri 14-Nov-08 10:53:30

Not a dog owner - but I wouldn't let her off the lead while there was a chance she could chase and/or kill any other animal.

If you have to let her loose, are there no areas you can go to where the deer don't live?

sophy Fri 14-Nov-08 10:58:32

We live in a farmhouse surrounded by fields and away from roads. She is quite a big dog and needs lots of exercise off the lead.

I now avoid the area where I know most of the deer are, but they are everywhere round us -- they are actually regarded as a pest, and farmers shoot them.

If it wasn't deer, she would be chasing rabbits or pheasants. Country Life!

Yes we have trained ours
But we live in London, very near Richmond Park and we walk there a lot. The deer are much more socialised than rural deer and don't tend to run away.

What you need to do is to train your dog to stop without fail to command.

We haven't really gone overboard on training at all with our dog but the one thing we really really trained into her was that when we say "wait" she stops dead in her tracks

This will get you out of pretty much any situation in which the dog could get hurt or frighten someone etc. Or kill something. She will even do it if there is a rabbit sitting in front of her (but she looks well miffed)

We trained her by walking a lot on pavements with roads. Every time we got to a road we would say WAIT and stop. Then when she stopped she got a reward. Then move on to trying without the lead. Eventually it becomes second nature to them. All i have to do now is say it very very quietly (but authoratitively) and she stops dead.

oh yes and you do this
wait

google wait and stop commands anyway

sophy Fri 14-Nov-08 11:06:14

Thanks CD that looks like good advice.

We were staying with friends in Richmond quite recently and took the dog to Richmond Park. I thought she was going to pull my arm off when we walked past a group of deer with her on the lead.

Deer totally unfased by the dog!

Yes they are!

Our dog (a ridgeback) just ignores them now.

When she was little she did try and chase them a couple of times before we had perfected wait.

We had a terrible moment a few years ago where dh was walking the dog and dd and I were fannying about waiting for him. He came over a hill, the dog spotted me and started running towards me and at the exact same time a huge herd of deer came running over the hill (70 of them at least) running diagonally towards her. I thought she would go for one and get trampled to death.

She kept her eyes on me and weaved through them!

bella29 Fri 14-Nov-08 19:29:39

Have you seen this thread?
here

Onlyaphase Fri 14-Nov-08 19:35:21

Sophy, please can you let us know how you get on with training your dog to stop on command?

I had the exact same issue with our two labs chasing muntjack deer in our garden, and sadly killing 3 of them. Our problem was compounded by having 2 dogs - when we tried to recall them, they had a pack mentality so one wouldn't come back if the other was still running. We tried a lot of things, but the only foolproof way was to keep the dominant one on the lead when out and about. Would be interested to find out more about the waiting on command business.

LilyMayPlumpington Fri 14-Nov-08 19:39:28

My dogs are generally very good with recall - but the big one is like a thing possessed when she sees sheep (and they can graze on common land where we live, not just farmers fields, and pigs).

Recently she caught a piglet and took a chunk out of it's neck before she responded to my dog walker's hoarse shouting and dropped it.

She is now muzzled when off lead. I really think you should do the same.

sophy Sat 15-Nov-08 10:01:33

Lily, the dog is already muzzled off lead. But it doesn't stop her chasing the deer and really frightening them. I am scared of an accident happening like the one in the thread Bella highlighted.

Only, I have been thinking about the wait on command thing a bit more. To be honest I am skeptical about it working, as I think it is the excitement of chasing as well as the scent of the deer which just completely takes over. I have sometimes been able to call her off mid-chase with the whistle, but only if I am quite near the dog and the deer have got a bit of a head start. Yesterday we came on a little one hiding in the long grass about 15 feet away and she was straight on it, so excited, and wouldn't leave no matter how much I yelled and whistled. Thank god for the muzzle or it would have been a bloodbath.

But will give the training a try and see how we get on.

Hope your muntjac are in the freezer.

sophy Sat 15-Nov-08 10:04:22

Only, just wanted to add, we used to get deer in the garden and rabbits but they didn't hang round for long after we got the dog, maybe yours will get the messge too.

We also had to fence the garden to keep the dog in, which keeps deer out (but wouldn't stop rabbits obviously).

Sophy the problem you have is that you need to be more interesting than the hunt. So I'd suggest you make life easy for yourself to start with and stop letting her off lead for a bit because every time she chases a deer it is reinforcing to her that she has more fun off lead and away from your side than she does when she is under your close control.

You'll need to find a way of exercising her somewhere enclosed, or just walking a hell of a lot with her on lead for a while. And I'd suggest going right back to basics with training - start indoors, teaching a "back" or "come" command, and imagine she's an 8 week old puppy. Once she's totally failsafe in the house, try in the garden. Once she's failsafe in the garden, try her somewhere more interesting but with no deer, so an urban park or something. A long line can be useful for security. Whatever you do don't progress until you're 100% trusting that she'll come when you call, and never call if you know she won't some (just teaches her she can run in the opposite direction even if you are recalling her!).

A clicker might be useful in that it teaches her to focus her energies on you primarily. Also, a NILIF policy (nothing in life is free!) can work sometimes - no food given in a bowl for meals, it all has to be earned throughout the day by obeying commands, which can be good for intelligent dogs who learn quickly that pleasing you = food rewards.

What kind of dog is she by the way?

sophy Sat 15-Nov-08 11:07:32

Makka thanks she's a pointer/springer cross. She's 2 1/2.

I think your advice is really good, but I don't think dh will go for it. He will think it is too much effort -- he won't even take a lead on the walks in case we have a problem (meet a horse etc.) while I always do.

The thing about getting the dog to come 100% of the time when you call I find difficult. What do you do if they don't come (she deosn't always, it's not failsafe)? Do you stop calling and walk away? Do you get angry when they do come (which might teach them the wrong message.)

You sound as if you really know what you are talking about, are you a professional dog trainer by any chance?

My dog is crap at come
She just stands looking at me mutinously.

For some reason Wait was much easier to train

dollius Sat 15-Nov-08 11:48:39

Hi Sophy - I have exactly the same problem with our black lab who has just turned three. He does respond to commands - comes back, walks to heel etc - but as soon as something more interesting comes along, it is impossible to get his attention and he is off. He tends to run very fast up to whatever has caught his attention (usually another dog), and this can really annoy people, which makes me quite anxious. I have been shouted at a few times over this (although he never jumps up or anything and is not aggressive at all, just over enthusiastic).

I find that turning my back and walking or running in the opposite direction nearly always gets him to come back if I have lost his attention. They seem to have a chasing instinct and will want to chase you.

I have also started putting his lead back on the minute he stops obeying commands - I am hoping he will eventually make the association.

I also practise getting him to come back to me several times during a walk, for no reason, and reward him with treats when he does. I am hoping that this will eventually become second nature to him.

I am particularly stressed over this because we are in the process of moving from Scotland, where you can pretty much always get away without the lead as there are loads of places to walk without bumping into other people/livestock. But England is another story, and I know it just won't work when we move there.

sophy Sat 15-Nov-08 12:42:22

Dollius I have tried those things too, but it seems that when there are deer around nothing seems to work!

By the time I turned around and started running the opposite direction the dog would be out of sight.

snigger Sat 15-Nov-08 20:23:14

Watching this one with interest - it was my dog (also a ridgeback, CD - the mutinous stare was familiar here too...) that was killed in the linked thread on here - it gave me a start to see this in the last days messages list.

When we originally got Ruby we were advised by our dog trainer that the 'halt/stop/wait' command was far more effective under pressure than 'come' - they might stop, out of reflex, but nothing's bringing them backwards in the heat of the moment.

Hope the training works out well - if we ever take the plunge again it's going to be Barbara Woodhouse reborn around here.

Pointer/Springer? [faints]

grin

Not a dog trainer. Although a dog trainer might be beneficial if only to get an outsider to explain to your DH what a serious problem this is. Not even taking a lead on walks? shock Chasing dogs can injure themselves and others, and could even cause car accidents.

One of mine hardly ever gets let off the lead because her recall is simply not reliable. But then she's a lurcher so although beautiful she's really thick wink It's a shame for her but not as much of a shame as it would be if she caused damage or injury to herself or a third party. She can run all she likes in enclosed spaces, and otherwise she makes do with the lead, I'm afraid.

Sorry, didn't address your point about getting her to come back 100% of the time. That's what I was referring to earlier - start in the house, graduate to the garden etc. You don't let her off the lead in the first place until you've built up your trust in her in "safe" situations. Hence a long lead being a good idea. And if they do run off don't waste your breath shouting - just call once and then wait for them to come back, or alternatively (in an urgent situation, and preferably with nobody watching you!) make loud squeaky noises and throw yourself on the ground. Often that's enough to pique their interest grin

oh snigger

I missed that thread
How utterly awful for you

Our ridgeback is called Ruby too - pic on my profile. She is 7 and much calmer than she used to be.

RubyrubyrubyRedMist Mon 17-Nov-08 09:46:53

Another Ruby here!

PMSL @ 'hope the muntjac are in the freezer' grin

<<runs off to practise 'wait' command in unruly dog>>

RubyrubyrubyRedMist Mon 17-Nov-08 09:48:42

Pheasants are a problem for us - they are so slow and stupid! I am virtually tripping over them as I walk up the path - I could catch them easily so the dog has no problem blush

My friends used a compressed air collar, which is much kinder than giving your dog and electric shock.

I agreee with makkapakka, back on the lead until basic commands are obeyed in a controlled enviroment. I would then move onto a lunge rope/extending lead until I was 100% confident in the recall.

Geepers Mon 17-Nov-08 10:12:47

I'll go against the grain and recommend you get an e-collar. It has transformed our lives and given our dog a far, far better quality of life.

Our dog's recall was non-existant in certain situations, mainly when around smaller dogs and birds, that our cocker spaniel would chase and chase with no regard for dangers like roads.

We rarely need to use the shock facility, as the collar gives a beep before the shock which 9 times out of ten works to stop the dog in the his tracks and return to my side.

He very, very rarely chases birds now, and we can almost always walk past seagulls etc without him giving them a second glance.

To keep an active, high energy dog on a lead is far more abusive than one of these collars imo. Our dog now enjoys running and socialising every day and I am confident that he isn't going to chase anything into a main road or tear a bird wing from winng.

Geepers the electric collars can be effective but they are punitive and so many people are totally against them.

I have seen them used by skilled dog handlers on dogs which would otherwise be facing euthanasia, and the effects have been excellent. However, because they work by association, ie the dog learns that chasing deer is associated with pain, there's a real risk that the dog makes the wrong association. For example, if the collar is activated when the dog is near children, there's a risk it may become fearful of kids, if it is accidentally activated in a car or while on a walk and behaving well, it can cause huge problems with anxiety.

Like these rattle bottles everyone is so fond of using, the timing is so critical that things like this are best left to experienced and trained handlers, IMO.

snigger Mon 17-Nov-08 19:39:32

CountessDracula, your dog is beautiful smile

What a breed they are, in spite of the blatant defiance grin

ah so is yours

They are fabbo aren't they

I haven't tried this, but know someone who did it successfully with their dog chasing sheep. Sounds a bit harsh, but may be worth looking at. Get one of those long retractable leads - when she goes for the deer let her get a little way then click the stop button, say no/stop firmly and get her to come back, give reward on stop and return. Keep at it every time, but you would have to be careful that she hasn't got up too much speed before you press stop so you don't hurt her neck too much. My friends said it took them a couple of months, and they were actively taking the dog to where sheep were so in the end the dog seemed to get bored of them (it was on the lead at all times). Constant repetition might just do it.

meggsie Mon 05-Jan-09 14:09:44

Be awareat munjacs can kill dogs. They stand their ground and headbut aiming for the chest and so puncturing the dogs' lungs. We lost our greyhound this way. She lapped the deer who attacked and killed her.

I am ashamed to say that as a result I have no sympathy for this imported interloper, if it meets a more aggressive animal let it take its chance!. Our greyhound knew how to chase but not what to do next. The deer had no such hesitation.

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