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Dog and deer

(14 Posts)
MipMipMip Sat 04-Nov-17 20:38:45

Was going to name changed as I am very ashamed
of this. Flame me all you like - I can't feel worse.

Dog is 2.5. He has a history of playing with wildlife - really playing. Had a fox call him back when he returned to me then they'd tasks turns chasing each other, runs alongside rabbits (they may not be enjoying the game!) but never attempts to catch it. With dogs he sometimes plays a bit rough but he judges it to the dog - with older, scared etc dogs he is very gentle. Several owners have said he is one of few their dog doesn't tell off for being too rough.

Today was in a woof and, unusually saw two deer. He ran towards them but for the reasons above I wasn't too worried. I called him but it was a "calm down" rather than come. The deer was approaching a fence (easy for them to jump over) so I wasn't anticipating any problems. I suddenly heard awful screams - I thought at first a deer had got stuck on a fence. I got there and dog had got hold of one of the deer's legs and was hanging on. There was a lot of movement but I managed to grab hold. Dog was totally ignoring me and I had to force his jaws apart. Deer ran off.

Normally hog hates being told off - he really feels it. I yelled at him and smacked him, not something I EVER do but I really wanted him to know this was really wrong. He went on a short lead until there was no possibility of him knowing why he was being punished. But he didn't respond to the punishment at all - he was just too excited.

I believe the deer was fine. He was holding onto it, not biting if you see what I mean (his jaw is very string and there would be as lot of damage if he meant it). There was very little blood and it ran off using all legs, although with the amount of adrenaline in the poor creature it could have probably run on a broken leg.

What the hell do I do now? He has been 100% friendly to animals - he gets on with the local horses and when he has accidentally meet sheep (I would never let him off in a field with them knowingly but they were unexpected) he ignored them. I suddenly can't trust him and I'm terrified. I don't think he took in that his actions were wrong but meeting deer is obviously unexpected (seen them twice before there after two years) so I can't really acclimatise him to them. And I certainly don't wasn't to put them or anyone else at rusk.

Please, if you have any suggestions, send them to me. Thank you.

PovertyPain Sat 04-Nov-17 20:44:42

FFS stop being so selfish and keep your dog on a lead. Deers are very sensitive creatures and it can quite easily die of shock. I can't believe you think it's acceptable for your dog to chase wildlife. They're not fucking toys. You're exactly the kind of dog owner that gives the rest of use a bad name.

Ylvamoon Sat 04-Nov-17 20:53:39

Sound like your dog has a high pray drive and you have indirectly encouraged it. A lead is your best answer. You can try corrective training, but I suspect it will be long and difficult. (If not impossible, as a lot would also depend on breed.)

4yoniD Sat 04-Nov-17 20:55:39

A basket muzzle would mean he couldn't bite. They allow normal panting. A dog can (potentially) learn to see them as a good thing, i.e. As a sign of a walk. But be prepared for people to regard your dog a a spawn of hell. Which is daft, as it's the muzzled dog which can't bite!

Nottalotta Sat 04-Nov-17 20:58:52

Muzzle.

rightsaidfrederickII Sat 04-Nov-17 20:59:24

FENTON! FENTON! OH JESUS CHRIST

Sorry

PestDog also has a prey drive. Reality of that is that if we see any wildlife more substantial than a grey squirrel (which are numerous, and always disappear up trees before he can get to them) then he has to go on his lead. Unfortunately you can't know the deer was fine - there was some blood, so the skin had been broken, and dog mouths are full of bacteria that can cause infection and an unpleasant, slow death for that deer.

Kursk Sat 04-Nov-17 21:12:10

Deer are physically pretty resilient....I have spent all day trying to get one!

Dog was lucky it was a doe, a buck could have seriously injured him. Lead or muzzle in that situation.

CornflakeHomunculus Sat 04-Nov-17 21:41:14

I agree with Ylvamoon, you have a dog with a high prey drive whose intentions you've been mistaking because he's not tried to kill anything before.

Shouting at him and smacking him was obviously the wrong thing to do once you got hold of him. At best it won't have had any impact because he was so hyped up from the case and at worst he'll associate coming back to you with that sort of response.

First things first, you need to keep him on lead for now unless you're somewhere secure with no wildlife for him to chase. You absolutely cannot trust him not to chase wildlife or livestock. You say he's been fine with sheep before but the encounter with the deer may well have changed that and it's a risk that's just not worth taking.

Muzzle training is a good idea but once he's happy wearing one you mustn't get complacent, being muzzled will only stop him grabbing potential prey. Even a muzzled dog can hurt small animals if they manage to corner one and it won't have any impact on the chasing itself which will be distressing for the wildlife. It also won't stop your dog him putting himself in danger (such as blindly running across roads) in the course of the chase.

You need to seriously work on his impulse control, starting off at home and then very gradually working in more and more distracting places. You're going to have to put in quite a lot of effort with this as, up until now, it sounds like he's just had free rein to chase as and when he feels like it.

It may sound counterintuitive but giving them an appropriate outlet for his hunting behaviour can really help with managing a dog with a high prey drive. They key word there is "appropriate". There's all sorts you can to simulate hunting in a way that's safe; lure coursing, flirt poles, scentwork/tracking, etc.

I'd probably look into finding a decent behaviourist (go through one of these organisations) to help you with this. The FB group that link is from (Dog Training Advice and Support) is well worth joining and if you do a search for 'prey drive' within it there's lots of good advice. You can also post on there asking for recommendations for trainers/behaviourists in your area who are particularly experienced with highly prey driven dogs.

BiteyShark Sun 05-Nov-17 06:14:24

My dog has a high prey drive and there is no where around me where I could walk off lead and not encounter wildlife.

As a puppy (working cocker) I would put him on the lead and try and reward him for not lunging at horses etc. Because they are very robust round here as he got older I could let him off around them as he wanted to chase and play but not bite. However each time we encountered them I would call him back and reward him for not 'playing' so after time he realised they were not things he should engage with. I now only put him on lead for horses that are being ridden because although I can trust him I cannot trust the horse not to be spooked and run off.

It is worth training them because now he walks through horses and cows without attempting to play with them (although he will have a cheeky look to see if there is any fresh poo for him to eat [boak]). For any new wildlife he does try and chase but always I call back and reward when he comes because I don't want him chasing 'anything' and thinking he can. The other day he saw a bloody hare and started to give chase but I did a recall and turned and walked off.

For deers I have always tried to recall him or walk in the opposite direction. He has chased but now tends to make a start because its instinct but a quick squeak of my squeaky ball he heads straight back. As Cornflake mentioned having an outlet for hunting and chasing is key. The reason mine can't be arsed to chase is because we have found that chasing and hunting balls is more fun with me because he always knows he going to get them. I found this accidentally and then started only to bring balls out at set times. I do throwing the ball but at the same time I throw another one in the grass and then when he comes back he has to go hunt it out.

So first start putting him on the lead at the first sign of trouble and reward for not chasing. You are going to have to find a very high reward. See if you can get him excited to chase and hunt with you using a ball or dummy etc when out and about. If he looks interested in something call him back and have a game of chase/hunt yourself. You are going to have to make yourself very very exciting to be more exciting than him chasing and hunting by himself. You can buy different dummy's (furry ones etc). Make the game big and fun but for short periods so he wants to keep coming back for more. My dog begs me all through the walk to play ball and hunt now even surrounded by close wildlife so it really is worth doing.

missbattenburg Sun 05-Nov-17 12:16:56

Just wanted to chime in to support what everyone else has said. Playing IS hunting. They are the same instincts and all that has happened her is that the dog has followed through with everything he has been practising. He hasn't done anything wrong; he has just done what he was built for. Now, he has done something we don't want him to do, but that's a different matter.

It is impossible to 'punish' excitement. Excitement is uncontrollable and not something the dog chooses. All you have done here is make the whole situation confusing and stressful for the dog. It won'y put him off in future because the 'fun' of chasing and catching a deer will override everything else - it is his biological instinct fulfilled and animals wouldn't survive long in the wild if instinct just had a weak hold over them.

You move forward in the short term will control. That means a lead at all times. In the long term, you need to follow the advice here about giving him a more fun and appropriate outlet for his instinct and never letting him 'play' with wildlife again.

viques Sun 05-Nov-17 12:22:46

Btw I expect you know that if you are walking in areas with deer there are likely to be masses of ticks carrying Lyme disease. Make sure you check both you and the dog.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Sun 05-Nov-17 13:29:23

I can't see why you have to muzzle your dog if you are keeping it on a lead wherever you are likely to meet wildlife he may catch or chase (be v unlikely to actually catch a squirrel, for instance). Very good advice from Bitey. My experience is: my own dog (acquired as an adult dog) has a high prey drive and I have her on a lead whenever the deer are likely to be about (early morning/late afternoon and deer-type hangouts near us - near water, strangely they also like the forest just behind houses with dense bushes). We have seen many deer but, because of my precaution, she has always been on the lead when we do so and I encourage her to look them (from a distance) but speak calmly to her, encouraging her to think they are a friend - we do this with other dogs with success- hope it works, it did with my previous dog who learned to leave them alone - she never caught one and stopped chasing them after being re-educated by me this way early on. I would never trust my current dog off the lead when deer are likely to be around. She does chase the squirrels but they always get up a tree quickly. In early days she managed to actually catch a rat (I made her drop it and it scurried off but I now have her on the lead near the rat nests as I have no wish for her to harm ANYTHING). She is also always on the lead near the ponds/lakes to protect the wildfowl. As viques has said, check your dog for ticks which may be deer ticks (I believe they are VERY small) to try to avoid Lyme disease (yourself also!). That said, I've lived in a deer area (Epping Forest) for 7 years and not yet found a tick on me or either of my dogs).

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Sun 05-Nov-17 13:33:00

I can't see why you have to muzzle your dog if you are keeping it on a lead wherever you are likely to meet wildlife he may catch or chase (be v unlikely to actually catch a squirrel, for instance). Very good advice from Bitey. My experience is: my own dog (acquired as an adult dog) has a high prey drive and I have her on a lead whenever the deer are likely to be about (early morning/late afternoon and deer-type hangouts near us - near water, strangely they also like the forest just behind houses with dense bushes). We have seen many deer but, because of my precaution, she has always been on the lead when we do so and I encourage her to look them (from a distance) but speak calmly to her, encouraging her to think they are a friend - we do this with other dogs with success- hope it works, it did with my previous dog who learned to leave them alone - she never caught one and stopped chasing them after being re-educated by me this way early on. I would never trust my current dog off the lead when deer are likely to be around. She does chase the squirrels but they always get up a tree quickly. In early days she managed to actually catch a rat (I made her drop it and it scurried off but I now have her on the lead near the rat nests as I have no wish for her to harm ANYTHING). She is also always on the lead near the ponds/lakes to protect the wildfowl. As viques has said, check your dog for ticks which may be deer ticks (I believe they are VERY small) to try to avoid Lyme disease (yourself also!). That said, I've lived in a deer area (Epping Forest) for 7 years and not yet found a tick on me or either of my dogs). My other problem is the great desire in her to chase cats (and we have many neighbours with cats) - still a work in progress - she inspects underneath all parked cars after dark in the hope of chasing a cat - I am battling this one and intend to win her over to be friendly with them instead.

massi71 Sun 05-Nov-17 13:45:37

Jesus OP - are you for real letting your dog "play" with wildlife? Running alongside rabbits "who may not be enjoying it"?

I'm sorry but if I knew who you were I'd report you to the RSPCA for this alone.

And I speak as someone with a dog with a very strong prey drive (collie/cattle dog cross) that knows how to manage a dog like this.

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