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What is it about? Almost every dog and some more than others have some degree of prey drive, that is the chase instinct! You may experience it when your otherwise well mannered dog suddenly takes off chasing after a rabbit, squirrel, or a jogger. The old approach to solving this problem involved the use of “corrective” devices like choke chains and electronic fences. A better approach includes training and management techniques that reward your dog for choosing to focus on and stay near you, the owner.
Clarissa von Reinhardt has been working on the issue of how to deal with unwanted predatory behaviour for many years. In this fascinating and inspiring book, she takes the readers step by step through her training methods, inviting them to learn more about a dog’s complex spectrum of behaviour, and ultimately to maintain as much control as possible over the urge to chase prey.
More about Clarissa- Clarissa has operated her own dog training school, Animal Learn, for nearly fifteen years and lectures on training dogs with behavioural disorders.
When was it published? 2010
Who published it? Dogwise Publishing
Illustrations- Full colour photographs
DOGS IN CANADA
“Dogs with a strong instinct to chase things can be frustrating to manage. A dog that suddenly takes off after anything he considers prey - squirrels, joggers, bikes, cars - can be a danger to himself, his owner, others and whatever he's chasing. Von Reinhardt describes predatory behaviour and takes the reader step by step through her training methods, including such intriguing techniques as the "sausage tree," and addresses the causes of failure in training. Chase! delves into a fascinating and complex behaviour, and offers a training program that leads to as much control as possible over the urge to chase, while rejecting the use of aversive stimuli”.
THE APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“This book is the how-to manual for owners dealing with dogs who have high predatory instincts. I have had several clients and friends approach me with this issue, and it is one of the most frustrating for me (and for them!) to deal with. The book is geared toward pet dog owners, not trainers. The author does an excellent job explaining what prey drive is, where it comes from, and that it is a natural instinct within dogs. I appreciated that her problem-solving refers to "management" of behaviors, and does not promise to cure the problem. She comes down quite hard on anyone recommending the use of aversive methods to change this behavior. There are several really interesting exercises outlined in the book that I am eager to try, including "communicative walks" and a "sausage tree." There are also a lot of the exercises you would expect her to recommend, including sit/stay and several variations on recall. On the one hand, I like the idea of offering a number of different exercises whose ultimate purpose is to move the dog in the direction you want him to go (usually toward you!), so I appreciate that there are a variety of recall exercises available so you aren't simply calling your dog with "come" every time. On the other hand, I wondered if having this many seemingly different exercises to master might feel daunting for an owner, when in truth a really dynamite recall would suffice. Von Reinhardt does an excelling job describing how to teach certain behaviors, including many lovely photo illustrations. However, there were a couple of exercises, including "to me" and "look here" that were illustrated with pictures but not thoroughly described in the text. I imagine a qualified trainer could work out how to teach these behaviors, but a novice owner might be left wondering. I also found her description of teaching the "move slowly" exercise to be a bit confusing. The section dedicated to encouraging owners to be aware of their body language, energy, and tone of voice is excellent and so very important. We never want to admit that we might be contributing to our dog's unwanted behaviors, and von Reinhardt point out, in a way that is both compelling and kind, and not at all blaming, that we always need to consider our own behaviors while working with our dogs. The author also does a great job of explaining why positive reinforcement training is not just "bribery" on page 29: "Would you live with a person who you didn't get anything from, neither emotional nor financially, nor in terms of respect, nor anything else? We all want something for ourselves, which is socially accepted and, of course, perfectly okay." I gave a hearty "amen!" to this sentiment! The book is, for the most part, beautifully illustrated with photos including a range of dogs. However, there are a couple of places where photos are replaced with cartoon drawings of dogs. These seemed out of place and substantially less helpful to illustrating the point than photos would have been. My biggest issue with the book was von Reinhardt's assertion to playing fetch with a highly prey-driven dog is not a good idea. I have far less experience in this area than she does, so I won't just dismiss this advice. However, she later argues that games like nose work are excellent for these dogs, because they "offer the dog the chance to act out this natural instinct and drive" (p. 88). This seems contradictory to her statement that playing fetch teaches your dog "...to run after the fleeing 'prey,' which, once caught, leads to the 'shaking to death' aspect of prey behavior" (p. 78). I do see some distinction here, but I am not clear why certain outlets for a dog's innate prey drive are acceptable and others are not. Also, my own dog is highly ball-driven but does not care much about live prey (except his fascination with cats), so it seems to me that at least some dogs can understand the difference between a toy that is thrown and an animal to be eaten. Again, I am not arguing that von Reinhardt is wrong; I just found that the potential for contradiction a bit confusing. Finally, because I am always cautious with owners I am counseling about this behavior to tell them that some dogs simply can never be trusted off leash because their predatory instinct is so high, I was hoping the book would offer some concrete tips on assessing which dogs are most likely to be manageable with good training, and which are not. The book ends with the story of a dog whose drive was so high that she swims a rushing river twice to get to potential prey, and von Reinhardt uses this tale to illustrate the point that certain dogs have more prey drive than even an accomplished trainer can manage. However, I wish she had gone further to talk about how to look for this, and how common it truly is. Perhaps it is something that can only be learned with experience. If that's the case, I would have liked to have it spelled out for me. Overall, I enjoyed this book and felt it would be a valuable tool for owners as well as dog trainers coping with the issue of a dog with high predatory instincts. It is accessible and easy to read, and contains a great deal of valuable insight into a frustrating but natural part of our lives with dogs.” Adrienne Hovey, managing editor of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog
IN DEPTH REVIEW
~~The majority of dogs, and some more than others, possess a degree of prey drive. Prey drive is the natural instinct responsible for turning your civilised canine into an unharnessed hunter, causing him to run away from you at top speed after moving objects such as rabbits, squirrels or even joggers and cyclists.
In this book, Clarissa Von Reinhardt, owner of her own dog school, Animal Learn, and lecturer on training dogs with behavioural disorders, shares with us her clear and concise training methods for dealing with unwanted predatory behaviour.
Von Reinhardt teaches us the complex spectrum of behaviour that goes with prey drive, and introduces us to humane and effective techniques that reward the dog for focusing on you.
Chapter one begins by looking at predatory behaviour. Von Reinhardt explains that predation is influenced by both genetics and environmental factors. She then moves on to look at predatory behaviour patterns which are often playfully experimented with and perfected during the puppy stage. These include stalking, intense staring, the ‘attack’, the grab-bite and carrying away and guarding prey. Von Reinhardt continues by explaining the predatory sequence including a discussion of killing and killing strategies, how chasing prey is a self-rewarding action, breed disposition, body language and expression and the senses.
Chapter two moves on to training fundamentals and equipment. Von Reinhardt presents us with the techniques that she has used for many years and found to be the most successful in dealing with chase and prey. She discusses the elements of training which include your own body language, tone of voice, acting instead of reacting, food rewards and introducing distractions. She also gives advice on recommended training equipment, explaining how to use what she describes as a field leash.
Chapter three focuses on communicative walks as a key to training success. Von Reinhardt explains how we can use walks as a time to build a strong bond between ourselves and our dog, using interaction and communication to teach the dog to focus on us instead of his surroundings. She explains the key to this is to make sure that we are focusing on the dog, also providing us with some examples of activities to engage in whilst walking. Von Reinhardt also tells us when and where to go for communicative walks, as well as how to learn to watch the environment, so you can anticipate coming into contact with potential prey and put your dog on a lead.
Chapter four explains the behaviours that your dog needs to master in order for you to be able to control his prey drive. These include a sit and a stay as well as a number of recall commands and signals. Von Reinhardt gives us some advice on how to successfully teach these behaviours and explains the difference between rest and movement behaviours. She then provides us with lots of different exercises to help keep your dog with you on walks. These include changing directions, turn around, remaining on a path, move slowly as well as automatic sitting at the sight of prey. Von Reinhardt also shares with us the most common sources of failure in training.
Chapter five looks at play and other activities. Von Reinhardt tells us which type of play activities we need to avoid with a dog that exhibits a strong prey drive, as well as explaining why. She then moves on to demonstrate some more suitable games, such as hiding treats, digging, nosework, learning and problem solving games.
In chapter six, Von Reihardt explains the training devices and methods to avoid. She tell us why punishment is ineffective in reducing prey drive and also why we should steer clear of devices such as electric shock collars, spray collars, lithium salts, weighted saddle bags, etc. Von Reinhardt then looks at which training methods and activities to avoid, explaining why commonly believed strategies such as hiding from your dog and adaption strategies do not work.
Finally, Von Reinhardt provides us with a postscript, detailing the story of Fengari, a dog with a prey drive so strong, it could not be brought under control. She then gives us some closing thoughts to think about, explaining that far too many people believe that unwanted predatory behaviours justify the use of sometimes harsh and cruel training methods.
Von Reinhardt equips us with the tools to successfully manage our dog’s predatory instincts. Dee Ganley describes this book as “One of the best books you can read to help guardians and their prey-driven dogs help one another successfully become a team – and to strengthen the bond between them.”
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