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Thread: Training with a high prey instinct

  1. #1
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    Default Training with a high prey instinct

    Hello, everyone!

    I'm new to the world of Cavaliers. We actually adopted a Sheltie, who we thought was spayed, but in fact was pregnant. Her puppies, determined by a DNA test (which I believe is accurate based on they knew nothing about the mom being Sheltie) determined they were half cavalier/half Sheltie. There is other stuff mixed in but I'm here to determine if these behaviors one of mine is experience are cavalier-like and how to work with them. We kept two puppies and one acts a lot like a Sheltie... the other is totally different than what I'm used to.

    When we go on walks, she has the strongest prey instinct and wants to get anything that moves. It's not herding, because she's caught birds before and killed them. She actually, oddly enough, has no virtually no herding instinct. She wants to get bunnies, squirrels, cats or anything small that moves. I thought she wanted to play until the day a baby bird decided to let her four babies learn to fly in our yard and she caught two of them, immediately killing them. She is good with my cat, but she was born at my home and been with her since birth. She hasn't tried to hurt another cat, but I wouldn't trust her around one most likely that she didn't know. So anyway, on walks, she's a handful. Her eyes are scanning around the whole time looking for things and prepared to chase. She gets very upset when children are playing and moving quickly. She basically barks and pulls at anything moving. I was able to train her out of cars/bikes, or she outgrew it, but the main issue is birds on walks and then people (but I think people might be another issue where she just needs to feel more comfortable that I'm in control.) My boy has none of these issues and turned out basically perfect in terms of behaving well on walks. He has no interest in things moving and just walks along happily. I feel like my girl, Lily, has the highest alert senses and her smell is amazing... she will smell or sense an animal way before I see it! she walks with her head down sniffing the ground most of the time. It's so different than what I'm used to with my shelties, and could really use some help. I'm not sure if this is just dog behavior and has nothing to do with cavaliers as I really don't know much about this breed. I've always admired them, but never owned one or looked into one.

    Thanks for the help and suggestions on how to deal with her prey instinct... She's clicker trained, but I can't seem to get her to let go of that alertness she's always on.

  2. #2
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    My experience with my Cavalier is that she has a very high prey drive. Although "toy" dogs, they are like distilled spaniel hunting dogs. I've read articles on their DNA, most recently in National Geographic which is doing a series on the canine genome, that indicates Cavaliers are still very much hunters. So I think your instincts are probably correct. The interest in bikes and cars, though, is probably the Sheltie in her. My Tess has an amazing sense of smell, and successfully goes after mostly bugs in our yard, but gives a good try for the squirrels and birds. I'm planning on getting a kitten this summer, and I was told my an animal expert to be prepared to protect the kitten from Tess, not Tucker, our GR (although I'll keep an eye on him, too). Hope that helps! Sounds like you have a lively puppy on your hands.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emkaybee View Post
    My experience with my Cavalier is that she has a very high prey drive. Although "toy" dogs, they are like distilled spaniel hunting dogs. I've read articles on their DNA, most recently in National Geographic which is doing a series on the canine genome, that indicates Cavaliers are still very much hunters. So I think your instincts are probably correct. The interest in bikes and cars, though, is probably the Sheltie in her. My Tess has an amazing sense of smell, and successfully goes after mostly bugs in our yard, but gives a good try for the squirrels and birds. I'm planning on getting a kitten this summer, and I was told my an animal expert to be prepared to protect the kitten from Tess, not Tucker, our GR (although I'll keep an eye on him, too). Hope that helps! Sounds like you have a lively puppy on your hands.
    Oh, I forgot all about the bugs! She is always hunting different bugs and eating them and then her brother, who identical to her, chases them while moving but then loses all interests. I've never owned a mix before so it's funny seeing the different traits of the breed in her. I am glad I was able to break the car/bike habit, but the bird lunging would be fabulous to break as it's really annoying on walks. We foster kittens and she's great with them, but we do introduce her very slowly to them. She plays really rough which can be a concern with smaller animals. She is small herself at 15lbs but she likes to paw and slap them which, of course, isn't good for the baby kitties. She will clean and bathe them, also, which is really cute.

    I'm going to read up more on the cavalier breed and see how to work w/this kind of instincts since it's so new to me. She also has Chinese Crested in her but I can't really find many characteristics of that breed. I'd like to be able to take her own walks and have her be calm and level headed.... hope that's possible! I call her a puppy but she's actually 1 1/2...which I guess is still puppy-ish?

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    One of my cavaliers I can’t let of the lead at all. Her hunting instincts are so high we have lost her for 4 hour before, which was when she was 2 she is 6 now and a lot better but I wouldn’t trust her so she has to be walked on a bungee lead. In obedience class she is very good inside and out.

    Would like to see a picture of your two.
    Sabby
    Rosie-06/06 - Ebony-01/07 Harley-08/08
    " My sunshine doesn't come from the skies, it comes from the love in my dogs eyes "

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    Fletcher will pull on his leash for anything, people, dogs, kids, birds anything that moves even leaves blowing however, he does not want to kill it, I think. At first I thought he was just leash pulling. He loves people and kids, he has done very well meeting other dogs too (I know the owners, he is very hello but submissive at the same time) I thought it was just normal cavalier ADD (attention deficient disorder you know like in kids) I have not associated with hunting but.....maybe it is. I'm working on it during walks by having him stop and sit until "it" goes away I also carry a squeaky toy to help distract him as well, the command I use is "this way" he's getting it. We are starting puppy obedience classes next month. Puppy are hard but I love it.

    Melissa

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    We were going for our morning walk when we came across a waterthrush. They are small, and not aggressive, but they are territorial. The bird wanted to stay in the area, so kept flying in wide circles very low to the ground. My 2 are usually perfect on leash, but they both got excited and darted off. Guinness stopped as soon as I called him, but thistle was tearing around and around for several minutes. Finally the bird landed in a pond across the street, and thankfully no cars were around when thistle ran headlong into the road. Thistle stopped at the water's edge, but otherwise she was impossible for me to catch (although I huffed and puffed behind her as well as I could).

    It was really terrifying watching her running everywhere knowing how dangerous roads can be, and how completely na´ve she is about cars.

    So I understand about prey drive. It's part of their nature, but they can easily endanger themselves.

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    I don't actually think it likely has anything to do with breed (also, those dog DNA tests are pretty poor so I wouldn't set too much by them! They make money for the companies that sell them but the science is very weak and they are more a bit of fun than anything reliable in breed determination -- see:

    http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.ie/...dna-tests.html

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=127563468

    Or this: where someone ordered DNA tests for a crossbreed from all three companies that do them, and got different results from each company

    http://www.theoaklandpress.com/artic...mode=fullstory

    John Fyfe, an associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University, offered his insight on the tests to Steep in an e-mail. Fyfe maps dog and cat DNA for disease causing mutations.

    “I’ve heard of these breed ID tests but had no experience with them myself,” Fyfe wrote. “My take on it is that they have no basis and are basically a scam because the DNA determinants of most phenotypic traits are as yet unknown.”

    Phenotypic traits are observable properties of any living organism.

    “I believe that most veterinarians are likely to be as accurate as these tests, just using the phenotypic cues we can observe in the exam room,” Fyfe added.
    Some dogs simply like to chase things, and some do not. Not a single one of my four cavaliers chases things (except balls and sticks! ) -- squirrels, birds, etc. Oh except Leo who will sometimes run try to run after the deer in the local park -- but only to get closer to look at them, not to make them run and pursue them.

    Meanwhile my partner's alsatian will chase cats, squirrels etc.

    In general, of course, any dog is not safe off-lead near traffic (despite what some people think -- there is always something, somewhere that will tempt that dog and IMHO it is never worth risking a dog's life -- I hate seeing off lead dogs in city settings alongside traffic ) and one that likes to chase is going to be especially risky -- and cavaliers do have no fear at all of walking directly in front of oncoming cars (being 'fearless' is actually in the breed standard and this can make for some dangerous-to-themselves behaviour around traffic!). I'd keep a chaser on a secure, comfortable harness as such dogs are also likely to throttle themselves pulling on a lead and small dogs can particular can end up with a collapsed trachea doing this. It is very difficult for you though if you have a dog that simply wants to run and chase. In your shoes I think I'd look for a CPDT or APDT trainer and get some one on one help? It really is useful to get professional insight as so often we wrongly interpret what we see as meaning one thing or another and then manage it the wrong way or contribute to the problem (especially true for reactive dogs).

    In my experience by the way, shelties are pretty darn willing to chase just about anything... (going on those freiends have owned). All dogs actually have a prey drive anyway, from poodle to pug to greyhound to huskie -- they are all descended from animals seeking prey. So any dog can have those instincts come to the fore.

    Given how questionable DNA tests are, though, maybe what you actually have is a sheltie/terrier cross of some part and do have a known high-orey-drive dog that gets overexcited by the noise of children -- I've seen terriers like that (why many are not recommended for homes with kids) but never cavaliers beyond normal puppy behaviour (when most dogs will be excited by the noises of children...)? But then, loads of dogs like the sound of children because they are associated with play and fun!

    From doing rescue where I have had cavalier mums give birth to puppies of unknown background, I can say it can be impossible to determine parentage just by looking at a cross. I had three puppies come out of a cavalier that ended up lab sized and looked exactly like labs -- farmer did have a lab so pretty sure that was the dad. Only concession to a cavalier was a more reddish than gold coat and some small white marks on the chest. But no one in the world would look at those dogs and think they were cavalier crosses!
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Just for fun: here's a picture from that litter! ...the red dog is the puppy from the cavalier on the lower right. Who'd ever guess!!!

    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karlin View Post
    Just for fun: here's a picture from that litter! ...the red dog is the puppy from the cavalier on the lower right. Who'd ever guess!!!

    That is really interesting. That is a puppy! Does look a lot like a lab
    Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella

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    Just in case there's any confusion, she's not a puppy in that picture -- she WAS the puppy of the cavalier; the pic shows her as an adult. She is much bigger than the cavaliers though the angle doesn't make that very clear. You'd never guess she is half cavalier!
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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