What Is Predatory Aggression and How Do You Manage Dogs With High Prey Drives?
Predatory aggression behavior, also known as “prey drive”, is a natural behavior found in all predators, and can be exhibited by canines. This behavior is typically seen when the canine is chasing, watching or stalking smaller animals, such as cats, squirrels and birds. Predatory aggression can cause concern and even injury to family pets, children, and other people or animals. For this reason, it is important to recognize the signs and understand how to manage this behavior.
Understanding Predatory Aggression
Predatory aggression is an established and instinctive behavior. The behavior can range from stalking to chasing and trying to catch or even capturing its prey. It is important to differentiate from other types of aggression, such as aggression due to fear, territoriality or possessiveness. Predatory aggression is more directed toward motion than it is at people or other dogs.
Recognizing Predatory Aggression
There are some common signs and behaviors exhibited by a canine that is exhibiting predatory aggression. These include:
- Stalking: A canine that is exhibiting predatory aggression may begin to stalk their prey by keeping their body low to the ground and moving slowly and deliberately.
- Chasing: The canine may begin to chase their prey quickly, with the intention of catching or capturing them.
- Watching: This behavior may involve the canine watching their prey intently, without approaching or trying to catch them.
Aside from the behavior itself, some physiological signs may be present, such as a raised hackles, tense muscles, and an overall alert expression.
Managing Predatory Aggression
Managing a canine’s predatory aggression may be done in several ways. The most effective way to manage the behavior may depend on the individual canine and the context in which they are exhibiting the behavior. Some methods of managing predatory aggression include:
- Ignoring: When the canine is exhibiting predatory aggression directed at another animal, it may be best to ignore the behavior. This may help to reduce the reinforcement of the behavior, which can help to reduce the likelihood of it re-occurring.
- Distraction: Distracting the canine through positive means, such as using toys or treats, may help to redirect their attention away from the potential prey.
- Socialization: Early and frequent socialization with a variety of animals may help the canine to be less reactive to other animals.
- Identifying Triggers: Identifying potential triggers, such as particular animals or situations, may help to reduce the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the first place.
- Management Strategies: Management strategies, such as keeping the canine on a leash and supervising outdoor activities, may help to keep the canine away from potential prey and reduce the likelihood of predatory aggression being exhibited.
When managing a canine that is exhibiting predatory aggression, it is important to follow safety precautions. Some safety precautions include:
- Muzzling: It is important to muzzle the canine while they are exhibiting the behavior, in order to protect the potential prey and other people or animals.
- Leash: Keeping the canine on a leash is important, so that the handler can maintain control over the canine and minimize any potential for harm.
- Avoidance: It may also be prudent to avoid any potential triggers, such as particular animals or situations, in order to reduce the likelihood of the behavior occurring.
Predatory aggression is a natural behavior that is exhibited by canines. Recognizing and understanding this behavior is important in order to manage it and prevent potential harm. By following the safety precautions outlined, and utilizing the management strategies, it is possible to successfully manage this behavior in order to create a safe environment.