Predatory instincts in dogs


MOST dogs have a natural predisposition for some predatory behaviour based on their evolutionary pasts. The wolf is the dogs’ closest living relative, and is highly skilled pack hunters able to bring down large prey. The complete predatory sequence is eye, stalk, chase, grab-bite, kill-bite, dissect and consume.

Pointing and flushing breeds, including pointers and setters, have been bred to excel at stalking and flushing birds and other prey. Herding breeds, including border collies and Shepard breeds, are also talented chasers and stalkers, but need to have greater problem solving skills for controlling livestock movements.


Sight hounds, including greyhounds and wolfhounds, were bred to shine in the chase. Scent hounds, including beagles and basset hounds, are best at following their quarry’s scent trails.

Terrier breeds outshine other breeds in their aptitude for capturing and killing unwanted vermin including mice and rats.

A dog in predatory mode often doesn’t give a warning growl or bark, they may stalk their victim briefly and quietly or straight away give chase, although during the chase excited barks and whines can occur.

The trigger for dogs to hunt down their prey is movement, which is probably why even dogs who live happily with cats, have been known to chase unfamiliar cats who race past them; instinct kicking-in.

Dogs that give into the chase instinct by chasing joggers, cyclists and motorists, etc, should receive property training as this behaviour can cause injuries.


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