How does your dog respond to ducks/birds etc?

(33 Posts)
Pewdie Wed 13-Mar-19 08:47:56

My GSD is a bit better now that he's older i.e he won't run off into the distance to chase birds but he is incapable of walking past one without lunging. We always have him on lead where we suspect they will be. Would love to do more riverside walks in the Summer without him looking like a maniac.

OP’s posts: |
AvocadosBeforeMortgages Wed 13-Mar-19 09:19:39

Terrier here. Chases most things that move - squirrels, magpies, blackbirds, crows bikes. Weirdly he doesn't go after ducks - no idea why.

As he's never caught anything I tend to take the attitude that wildlife is environmental enrichment and let him chase (and also that it is more trouble than it's worth to stop him...) (obviously I don't allow bikes, livestock etc)

BigusBumus Wed 13-Mar-19 09:30:21

I have two Jack Russells and a Black Lab x Working Cocker, who is a working gundog. The JRTs chase, catch and kill all manner of things like rabbits, rats, mice, squirrels but don't bother with birds now they're older as they know they can't catch them and have never chased ducks (we have a lake and live in a riverside property).

The gun dog however permanently has her head to the sky looking at flying things. She's an excellent flusher and a fabulous duck-dog, leaping into water in the pitch black to retrieve a shot duck. Wouldn't chase them though.

Hoppinggreen Wed 13-Mar-19 09:39:28

Goldie here, will chase given half a chance.
He chased a bird once that was injured and when he “caught” it he was a bit baffled and just looked at me as if to say “ what now Mum?”

PositivelyPeach Wed 13-Mar-19 09:44:37

JR and a Pug.

If it's in my garden it will get barked at and chased away. If we are at a park/lake where there are resident birds they get ignored 🤷🏼‍♀️

The JR will occasionally try for a friendly sniff, never goes well. The pug is scared of anything bigger than a pigeon.

Floralnomad Wed 13-Mar-19 09:46:46

Patterdale x here and he chases everything , he’s obsessed with sea gulls and because he’s not the brightest dog in the world hasn’t yet worked out that if you didn’t bark they might not see you coming . He’s not allowed off lead near ponds / rivers as he has caught a bird in the past and I disagree with the pp who thinks it’s ok for dogs to chase if they’re not likely to catch anything .

Hoppinggreen Wed 13-Mar-19 09:49:41

I agree floral the chasee doesn’t know that the chaser won’t hurt them.
If I see my boy about to chase something I recall him ( doesn’t always work) or grab him and put him on the lead


AgathaF Wed 13-Mar-19 09:58:13

As he's never caught anything I tend to take the attitude that wildlife is environmental enrichment and let him chase - really?? It's not just the catching and/or killing that causes harm. Ground nesting birds in some areas have had decimated numbers due to dogs being allowed to charge around near them. I live near lakes where I see off lead dogs rushing around in reed beds terrifying nesting fowl and causing them to abandon nests. Last year a swan nest was abandoned, probably due to the number of dogs being allowed to approach it and bother the swans.

Please, be responsible and keep your dog on lead if you can't or won't train him to steer clear of birds, ducks etc.

fleshmarketclose Wed 13-Mar-19 10:03:45

Bella chases birds from the garden and barks at the pigeon that lands on the fence, she does chase squirrels and cats if she gets the chance but I put her lead on to limit that. She is a wuss though and the neighbour's cat who doesn't run from her (because he lives with a Saint Bernard I think) makes her quickly turn round and come back before she gets within his striking distance.

Doggydoggydoggy Wed 13-Mar-19 10:04:18

He’s a GSD, of course he chases and lunges!
It’s a high prey drive breed.

If you are unable to stop him then yes I think he should be on a lead as it’s not fair on the wildlife

MrsCasares Wed 13-Mar-19 10:05:15

Terrier here (mixed). He ignores everything. Mind he had to be taught how to be a dog (walks, ball game etc) because his previous owners abused and mistreated him.

Not entirely sure he doesn’t think he’s a small human.

adaline Wed 13-Mar-19 10:36:48

In the garden he'll bark, on walks it really depends.

Sometimes he'll ignore them completely, sometimes stop and look but do nothing, sometimes bark, sometimes bark and lunge - there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it at all!

adaline Wed 13-Mar-19 10:38:05

As he's never caught anything I tend to take the attitude that wildlife is environmental enrichment and let him chase

Please don't. Chasing a pigeon out of your garden isn't the same as letting your dog terrorise nesting birds. Like PP have said, numbers have decimated recently because people think it's okay to let their dogs charge around nesting sites and chase birds.

BiteyShark Wed 13-Mar-19 10:40:04

My working cocker hates birds but really really hates geese. He barks furiously at the sky when they fly over.

Fortunately he prefers his ball to chasing them although my dog walker has said sometimes he appears to be 'messing about' in a bush and suddenly he will flush out a pheasant (who then flies off).

Pewdie Wed 13-Mar-19 10:58:11

Doggydoggydoggy I've already stated that we're fastidious with keeping my boy on lead when in close proximity to wildlife. Just curious as my boy appears to be the only dog I encounter on lead around ducks, wondered if it was a training issue but suspect it's beyond that.

OP’s posts: |
Doggydoggydoggy Wed 13-Mar-19 11:21:22

I know, I was just stating my opinion that if he’s high prey drive and unreliable he should be leashed, which he is.

I think it’s not so much training necessarily but that you have a highly prey driven breed, so he will be motivated by movement and small furries than some of the other breeds you might be seeing around.

Sometimes you can train to ignore but the more he’s chased the more ingrained the behaviour will be

missbattenburg Wed 13-Mar-19 11:34:42

GSDs are guarding breeds. They have high protective instincts but I am not sure they have high prey drive. Happy to be corrected, though.

All that said, all dogs have some elements of the prey sequence and a dog that has 'learned' how exhilarating it can be to chase, scare or catch birds and other small furries is not going to forget it in a hurry. There is little you can offer that would equal that so training is an uphill struggle. I suspect gun dogs would be

- not allowed to chase at will right from the off, reducing their ability to learn how much fun it is to ignore the handler and chase the bird. I remember reading an article about springers which debunked the idea that most owners have that a springer that loves chasing pheasant would be best suited to life as a working dog; once the dog has learned this, it is too much hassle to try and untrain it for working. Easier to start with a puppy and never allow the opportunity.

- trained using a premack principle in which the reward for holding still when told is the chance to chase/flush the bird on cue. Old school, probably also trained using a fair amount of punishment to overcome the lure of the chase.

Battendog (springer) would thoroughly love to flush pheasant and hares and once he'd started he would not be easy to stop. For that reason I keep an eye out for areas they would likely be hidden and keep him under leash control when we pass them. I would also 100% leash him near ducks.

Ihaventgottimeforthis Wed 13-Mar-19 11:52:05

A study in the urban fringes of Sydney Australia came up with the following conclusion:
“Dog walking caused a 41% reduction in numbers of bird individuals detected and a 35% reduction in species richness"

So imagine being a poor bird nesting on a riverbank or canal or beach or downs and heath, constantly being disturbed or flushed by dogs out for a walk. Nests will be abandoned, excessive energy will be spent, behaviour will change and stress levels will be increased.
Just another layer of human impact to add to our environment. Wildlife is not there for our enjoyment and 'enrichment'.

Spudlet Wed 13-Mar-19 12:04:19

He's a gundog, his job is ground to air relocation, and this he does. Fortunately for the local avian population, he is these days a fairly elderly, deaf, and basically somewhat useless gundog, so unless he's actively working, he basically has to fall over them before they get flushed grin

It's instinct, you can control it with training (things like teaching the dog to not immediately run for a retrieve, for example, and by training a reliable stop command) but it will always be there, so to an extent it's a question of management. I'd always have ddog on a lead in an area where I know there are nesting ground birds or where there is a lot of game around because he's only a dog, at the end of the day.

It's worth pointing out that although ddog does obviously have a chase drive he can (well could when he could hear) be stopped mid-chase with a whistle blast. And that I trained using reward based methods - my harshest punishment was a harsh tone of voice, rarely used, with the balance very much tilted to rewarding the good. And that ddog was a rescue, and a stubborn little so and so to boot. So don't despair.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Wed 13-Mar-19 12:18:55

We walk in a busy city centre park - there is high human foot traffic, lots of dogs, football pitches and sometimes parts of it are closed off for summer events (RHS flower show for instance).

It's not a wildlife reserve, and I very much doubt there are any ground nesting birds there. It's all grey squirrels, gulls, crows, magpies and the odd mallard which he doesn't bother with anyway - hardly anything endangered.

kenandbarbie Wed 13-Mar-19 12:26:18

My dog used to go mad barking and running after them, but after being fished out of a cold wet river a couple of times she's not interested anymore!

Warmhandscoldheart Wed 13-Mar-19 12:29:42

@Floralnomad Patterdale X here too, never gets anywhere near anything because he barks. We saw a pheasant along a country lane last year, he barked then started to chase, it turned round and looked at him. He came running back, hid behind me and stayed by my side until it went into a field.

I also think GSD are more guarding dogs than prey driven, lunging to protect rather than chase. Enjoy riverside walks with your dog off lead but stay aware of your environment

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Wed 13-Mar-19 13:01:45

Staffie Cross and whatever she is crossed with must be another terrier because she is obsessed with chasing anything and has caught two rats. (my first dog years ago was a pure bred Staff and he mostly only chased squirrels and wasn't very good at it). I do not trust her with birds. We live with a little parrot and she is quite good with him - she has not tried to hurt him in the two years I have had her. However, if he takes off and lands on the floor, she will rush after him - she is being taught that this is not acceptable and she must just leave him well alone and I will rescue him from wherever he ends up. I would not be confident that I could teach her to leave the wild birds alone successfully though. She is always on the lead near ponds/round the local lake, etc.

MsMightyTitanAndHerTroubadours Wed 13-Mar-19 13:09:55

we had a GSD and chickens and so long as there was no flapping he'd be fine if they were out, but any fast chicken running or flapping and he'd be right up in their business.

In your position I would have a very high value treat and distract with that and a "Look at me" as you go by them.

Doggydoggydoggy Wed 13-Mar-19 13:27:25

missbattenburg GSD were originally bred as dual purpose sheepdogs and guard dogs.

The border collie eventually replaced them as the top choice of sheepdog and the GSDs were then utilised more for police/security work.

Both herding/droving and police work requires a high prey drive.

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