Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?

Why do dogs chase squirrels?Why do dogs chase squirrels? Why do dogs chase cats? Why do dogs chase rabbits? Why do dogs…….you get the idea. The point is dogs are interested in chasing a lot of things.

Dogs are prey driven animals by nature. Back in the days when dogs were wild, hunting for their own food was a necessary part of survival. Despite the fact that dogs are now domesticated, and have no true need to hunt, the instinct to chase prey remains hard wired in their brains.

In addition, dogs that are driven to ‘chase’ immensely enjoy it. It’s no different than the way we enjoy some of the human things that we do.

Do All Dogs Chase Squirrels?

I once had a dog that caught a mole in the weeds while we were trail walking at a forest preserve. She wasn’t even off-leash, she just had this amazingly keen nose that knew precisely where this tiny mole was hiding as we passed by. Nearly taking my arm out of its socket, she pounced and quick as a flash came up with a brown mole dangling between her teeth. After what seemed like an eternity of trying to get her to obey the command, “drop it”, I reluctantly gave in and continued the rest of the walk with her proudly displaying her catch of the day. In the end, and after many comments of, “your dog has something in its mouth”, she finally dropped a dead mole. This was how I learned that my dog had prey drive.

While some dogs could care less about nature’s surrounding critters, other dogs are far more prone to prey driven behavior. You may notice that your dog actively stalks outdoor areas in search of prey, or becomes overly excited at the scent, sight, or sound of prey. You may also notice that your dog becomes stimulated by movement and chases other things such as cats, cars, joggers or bicycles. These are all signs of predatory behavior.

When Chasing Prey Poses a Risk

One of the most difficult things to teach a dog is to obey the “come” command when off-leash and there are distractions. You may have practiced this command since puppyhood and feel you have it down perfectly, but sometimes even the most well trained dog will go astray. This usually occurs in that brief moment when something becomes so riveting to your dog that he loses focus on all else. Once your dog gets caught in the moment your commands are rendered useless.

Many times it is the common squirrel, or rabbit, bounding across your yard that is to fault for your dog’s inattentiveness to you. Off goes the critter, then off goes your dog….and the full speed chase is on. The concern, of course, falls in where the critter leads your dog from there, and if you are near a busy street you can see where the danger lies.

the drive to ‘chase’ is intensely powerful for a dog, and attempting to get him to obey commands once he is in full chase is exceedingly difficult. Chasing prey far outweighs any reward that you may have to offer. Care should be taken with these chasers to see that they are not let loose in areas where there is traffic. Also, keep in mind that if your dog chases joggers, bicyclists, or running children, it may mistakenly be perceived as aggressiveness, and understandably so as it can be frightening for someone to see an unknown dog chasing them!

Will My Dog Eat a Squirrel?

Some dogs just can never manage to catch up to those crafty squirrels that run zigzag patterns to dodge their predators. But, it’s certainly not unheard of for a dog to catch a squirrel, and when they do, the outcome differs. Some dogs will only chase the prey, but never truly care to catch it. Other dogs may chase, catch, and then kill their prey by biting or shaking it. And yet other dogs will actually catch and eat their prey.

What does your dog do?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *