Dogs love to chase and Cherry is no exception. Her object of choice (or should we say, ‘chase’) is the squirrel! Were we living in the remote countryside, we might let her have her fun. But congested Delhi is not a place to let a dog off-leash to indulge in chasing pleasures.
We used a few different approaches to discourage her squirrel-chasing habits! The first was basic obedience. We started off with basic control commands, including her name, recall and a strong leave it/take it. We practiced at home, and then on busy streets and finally in the park (aka squirrel haven)! The second approach was good leash walking skills.
Once at the park, we used the ‘Leave it’ command firmly, and encouraged her away from the squirrels. A third approach was to block her vision – this was combined with asking her to do a basic obedience command, and giving her sticks/coconut husks/leaves and other natural and easily available objects to play with as a reward.
But remember, chasing/hunting is very strong instinctual behaviour in dogs! It’s never truly going to go away, and it is definitely not healthy to suppress such strong instincts. We have to redirect them! We got her to use her energy with a game of fetch. Yes, the humble game of fetch allows Cherry to expend her energy, run, and simultaneously reinforces her recall and leave it commands!
Cherry has shown tremendous improvement with the use of these simple tactics, and we are very proud of her and her pet parents!!!
What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Share your experiences with chasing and hunting behaviours in the comments below!