Behaviours that are rehearsed are more likely to occur in the future. This is true. And it may lead us to think that to curb predatory behaviours like chasing, grabbing, or biting, we must prevent dogs from engaging in similar activities during play. I take a different stance! Let’s explore why controlled play and engaging games can be beneficial in managing these natural canine behaviors.
1. Building Reinforcement History through Play
Playing games with your dog, like tug or fetch, isn’t just about having fun. These activities build a strong reinforcement history for engaging with the human! This aspect is crucial when modifying unwanted predatory behaviors outdoors. A dog with a robust reinforcement history of interacting positively with their human will be more responsive and easier to manage in various situations.
2. Controlling and Teaching through Play
Toy games offer a controlled environment where dogs can learn when certain behaviours (like chasing or biting) are on the table, and when they are not. This controlled setting is invaluable for teaching dogs to understand and respect boundaries.
3. Channeling Natural Behaviors Fairly
Chasing, grabbing, and biting are innate dog behaviors and, for many dogs, fulfilling these needs is essential for their well-being. It’s more reasonable and fair to redirect these behaviors towards appropriate objects, like toys, rather than trying to suppress them entirely. Telling a dog, “chase this, not that,” is a more constructive approach than outright banning these behaviors.
4. The Role of Rules in Play
While playing with toys or engaging in chase games, it’s important to establish rules. This structure helps in managing the intensity and nature of the play, ensuring it remains a positive and controlled experience. These rules don’t make play inherently bad; instead, they guide it to be a beneficial part of your dog’s behavioural management.
Contrary to some beliefs, engaging in controlled toy games doesn’t inherently increase a dog’s prey drive or encourage undesirable predatory behaviour. Instead, it provides a structured and positive outlet for these natural behaviours. At DogNerd, we believe in understanding and working with a dog’s natural instincts, not against them. If you need assistance in managing hunting or chasing behaviours in your dog, reaching out to a qualified and ethical professional is always a wise step.
Contact DogNerd for Expert Advice on Managing Hunting and Chasing Behaviors
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