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IS THE DOG STILL A PREDATOR?

The predatory instinct (it would be more correct to call the predatory drive) is found to be deeply rooted in canids, like all drives used to ensure survival. The selection can accentuate or attenuate these characters. She will never be able to inhibit them completely because they are part of the canine nature.

The wolf and its descendant the dog are predators. This means that in order to survive they must be able to:

flush out,
to pursue
kill animals of different species, smaller (rabbits and hares, for example) or much larger than them (deer, elk, etc.).

A STORY OF GENES

In both predation and sexual matters, behavior is governed by a large number of genes and appears to refer to various loci (fragments of the DNA molecule) of each gene.

The predatory impulse is triggered by the action of a stimulus that can generate in the dog a real need to pursue and capture. In nature, this stimulus consists almost exclusively of a fast moving animal of a different species.

The domestic dog (other than hunting dogs), however, hardly ever has the opportunity to naturally quell this predatory tendency. This is why he sometimes resorts to exhaust valves, likening the prey to objects that are actually inedible, but move fast. This is the mechanism on which the races after mopeds, cars, bicycles, etc. rest.

The dog will be even more inclined to choose for prey animals which he should not eat by virtue only of our rules, but which represent for him the ideal victim because they are small in size, run at an accessible speed and do not have particularly effective defensive weapons. This is the case with chickens, rabbits and cats. If he has never met them during the socialization phase and has not learned that they belong to mankind, the dog will also chase the children, especially if the children run away screaming at his sight.

THE PREDATORY INSTINCT

The predatory instinct is very useful in training the dog for various tasks. Besides hunting (obviously), it is also involved in learning defense. This is taught by stimulating not aggression – as some still believe – but the predatory drive, precisely.

Young dogs are encouraged to bite by making an assistant-animated bag dance in front of their muzzle, thus simulating the typical flight behaviors of the prey. After the bag, we move on to the sausage, then the cuff, always making sure that the dog wants to grab and bite the prey object. At the end of the exercise, in fact, the blood sausage or the cuff are offered to him as a reward so that he can “kill” them. He does it systematically, shaking and chewing on them with obvious satisfaction.

THE GAME IS THE EXPRESSION OF THE PREDATORY INSTINCT

The ball, which for many dogs in training phase becomes the most coveted reward, is also a prey. More than a replacement mechanism, however, we can speak more in this case of neotenia. This is when you maintain an infantile characteristic.

Puppies always learn through play. In nature, too, they improve their management of predatory behavior by using small objects. They roll them when they push them (stones). They are being stirred by another puppy (twigs, for example) and this excites this instinct.

To continue to crave these small objects (balls and sausages, for the domestic dog) is tantamount to remaining at the psychological stage of the puppy. This actually happens in our neotenic dogs.

A DIFFERENCE DEPENDING ON THE RACE

Breeds higher up on the neotenic scale (such as greyhounds and Nordic dogs) generally show very little interest in the ball once they have passed the childhood stage, although it turns out possible to maintain their interest in the game by making the dog understand that the ball is an intermediary allowing them to benefit from the attentions of the master.

Useful to humans, the predatory instinct has been inhibited in virtually no dog breed. This means that he is always ready to come forward, and in sometimes unwelcome ways. The dog owner should always prevent actions aimed at bad prey. He must set real taboos against them.

The dog must know that the fact of behaving like a predator towards cats, small birds, children, cars, etc., displeases the owner. To achieve this, simply present these stimuli to the puppy and intervene with a “No!” “Dry as soon as the animal takes on a predatory attitude.

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