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Common Behavior Problems

Predation - Dogs or Cats Who Kill or Chase Small Animals

Predation is actually a sequence of behaviors that if taken to their end point, result in the killing of an animal, presumably for food. However, dogs and cats can show part of the predatory sequence, such as chasing, stalking or pouncing without ever killing an animal.

Fast movement of any sort can stimulate the chasing part of predatory behavior. Joggers, kids on skateboards or scooters, bicyclists and motorcycles are common triggers for dogs.

Your pet can become infested with parasites by killing animals, so it’s in your best interest, and your pet’s, to prevent this. Check with your veterinarian about the health issues involved.

Your first step in stopping your pet’s predatory behavior is to control your pet’s environment. This may mean no off-leash runs or walks for your dog and keeping your cat indoors. Respect leash laws.

While a bell on your cat’s collar may help, some cats learn to creep up on critters and keep the bell silent. Any collar must be of a safe, break away type so you cat can’t get caught and strangle herself.

All things considered, it’s just not a good idea to allow your cat to roam. If you want to give her outside time, train her to walk on a leash and harness, (yes, cats can be trained!), install a cat-proof barrier on your fence so she can’t leave your yard, or give her an outside pen or enclosure.

We can teach you how to provide your cat with what she needs to lead a stimulating, fulfilling life indoors with our What Cats Want CD that gives you an abundance of ways to create a cat-friendly indoor environment. Schedule an individual consultation for more personalized help with your specific issues.

Take steps to help your dog become more manageable and less reactive to his triggers for predatory behaviors. This may require counter conditioning and desensitization, behavior management tools such as the Gentle Leader, and even appropriate punishment for the behavior.

In rare cases, dogs can show predatory behavior toward people. This most often happens when dogs are running loose in a group. Individual dogs have been known to show predatory behavior toward infants and young children as well, although this is not common. There is no evidence that dogs who show predatory behavior toward animals are more likely to show the same behavior toward adults or children.

If managing your pet’s world by not giving him the opportunity to chase and potentially hurt small critters or people is not enough, then we suggest scheduling a consultation with us. Predatory problems can range from just annoying to extremely dangerous, and you must take steps to either control or change your pet’s behavior or both.

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