Dog owners are repeatedly confronted with their dog’s hunting instinct. For example, the four-legged friend hunts deer or rabbits – and in the worst case even kills them. The same fate can befall other wild animals. Hunting dogs are not only a danger to wild animals, but can also endanger people and themselves, for example if the dog runs across the street in the hunt fever.
Chasing is a natural behavior of dogs. Its wild cousin, the wolf, must hunt to survive. In the domesticated dog, the drive is deeply embedded in the genes. He cannot suppress it, even if his survival no longer depends on it. Depending on the breed of dog and the individual, the hunting instinct is more or less pronounced.
Just a smell can awaken a dog’s hunting instinct.
The dog’s hunting instinct is awakened as soon as it perceives something that promises prey: a rustling in the bushes, a movement in the thicket, a smell. The dog immediately directs its attention to the potential prey. It starts moving immediately and is unresponsive to the owner’s calls and whistles.
Once the prey has been sighted, there is no stopping it: the prey is pursued, caught, sometimes injured or killed. The dog is happy. For him, hunting is a self-rewarding behavior.
If your own dog turns out to be a hunter, immediate action is required. A simple measure is to put the dog on a leash where game is to be expected: for example in fields and forests. But there is also interesting prey for dogs in the city, such as rabbits.
If you don’t want to keep your dog on a leash all the time, you have to train it. With targeted training measures, he should learn not to stray too far from his owner and to react immediately when he calls him back. Rewarding is important here: a special word, a special attention or the well-tried treat – all of this triggers the dog’s feeling of reward and makes the owner more interesting to him than the deer or the rabbit.
With targeted, dog-friendly anti-hunting training, dogs and humans can learn to redirect and better control their dog’s hunting behavior. Despite all this: A dog is a dog. As the owner, you always have to reckon with the fact that he will move out once in a while. It helps to be able to «read» your dog. The sooner you recognize the typical change in him, the better you can counteract his outbreak of hunting.
Hunters are allowed to shoot dogs if they catch them poaching. This measure is intended to protect wild animals. If you are unsure whether you have enough control over your dog to call it back, you should refrain from letting the dog run free and use a walking or towing leash. This offers safety and the dog a lot of freedom. A spatially delimited dog exercise area is even more relaxed for owner and dog.