How to Handle your Dog’s Predatory Aggression


Predatory aggression isn’t true aggression, though it certainly looks like it. The behavior is a particularly instinctual one: It’s the predator chasing and catching his prey. Unlike most aggression, which is accompanied by a great deal of barking and growling, a predatory dog attacks quietly—there is no noise and no warning. Naturally, one would not warn one’s prey before charging. These dogs will vocalize if they’re held back by a leash or a fence. In that case, their barks or cries are generally high-pitched and very intense. Oftentimes, when small dogs are attacked on walks, the attacking dog has mistaken them for prey. Predatory dogs also tend to hang on to their prey, as opposed to diving in and out. Predatory behavior is often sparked by quick movement, such as a cat running or a skateboard or bicycle whipping by.

Predatory Aggression

Behavior modification method

There is very little emotion attached to predatory behavior, except frustration if the dog can’t get to his prey. For this reason, counter conditioning and desensitization are not quite as useful as they are for other forms of aggression, although they do help. As with other problem behaviors, you should associate other, better things with the prey that he wants to get. For instance, if your dog chases bicycles, you should place yourself a safe distance from a road and ask a friend to ride a bicycle past you. As he or she passes, you should then give your dog something utterly wonderful to eat and stop as soon as the bike is out of sight. This must be done consistently in a variety of places in order for your dog to truly understand what you want. And of course, you’ll need hundreds of repetitions. If your dog has been a successful hunter of small animals, I highly recommend that you see a very experienced trainer or consultant and that you plan on keeping him on leash whenever you’re out. This can be a very difficult behavior to modify.

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About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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