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Training Against Prey Drive
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    I think we should have a "Training" thread category, lol.

    I wonder, how possible is it to train against a nihon ken's prey drive? Say, if they were going after a squirrel or some such, would you be able to "call them off" "hunt mode?"

    What spawned me question kitty! She really has a huge hunting instinct, I guess since her mum & dad were both strays, she wasn't exactly bred for temperment, but I brought her home neways hoping since she was young she'd get "use" to the 6 cockatiels we have at home. [ plus Iguana ]

    Now, several times they have escaped from their cages. [ someone forgot to lock the door *head shake* ] I come into the living room, with Halo in tail. She saw Gackt [ bird ] on the floor running...& she TOOK OFF after him!!!

    Now, I have trained Halo sit, stop, stay, come, lay, down, up, & off. [ I don't think she's a real cat ]

    So, Halo BOLTS for Gackt, I yell "HALO!!! Stop!" & she completely halts a foot away from him! I say, "sit" she sits. I walk over & pick Gackt up. I told her "stay" & she stayed their & allowed me to walk across the living room & put him in his cage, & only came over to me after I released her! [ to which she got lots of love & treats lol ]

    So I wonder...If a cat can do it possible with a shiba / shika / kai / akita / kishu / hokka? This has happened 3 times & all 3 she has listened when in psycho hunt mode.

    Ne thoughts or similar [ more nihon ken related ;) ] experiences? ~
  • I believe you can teach them to leave specific individuals alone but not easily ALL prey. For example, Reilly (greyhound mix) and Sage (kai mix) have lots and lots of prey drive, and all scurrying furries outside get a response, but our two cats in the house are "Do Not Harrass." That said I think our cats and dogs actually play chase together- we stop them before it gets too crazy since the dogs are so much bigger and I don't want them to hit the out-of-brain tipping point.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    I don't know why you'd want to... if you've ever seen a spitz in action during 'prey mode', its fascinating. I'm always rooting for the shiba when its shiba vs. squirrel, shiba vs. bird, shiba vs. groundhog... but then thats me.

    But I think for a dog, especially a spitz, especially a nihon ken - you need to encourage them to have another outlet for that prey energy, and teach them what to release it on..

    These articles (following Natural Dog Training) by Lee Charles Kelley might help:
    in the squirrel one, read the comments part as well.

    I think if you were going to halt a dog from fulfilling its prey drive with the "kill" you need to substitute and replace that energy. A perfectly behaved obedience school graduate seems to have more hyperactivity than does a dog allowed to naturally release the prey drive energies. I prefer the latter.
    Post edited by tsukitsune at 2009-06-26 12:18:33
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    p.s. I want to see a video of your trained cat!
  • KFontaine04KFontaine04
    Posts: 1872
    I agree with Jen, when my Shiba's are on the "hunt" for whatever suicidal critter that has entered the backyard, it is amazing to see the switch to "prey drive" mode and watch them hunt.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    I agree with Crystal...

    Being that your birds are YOUR birds, she may be less inclined to go into 'full hunt mode'

    For all she knows, these birds are your 'toys' and she could see it as you guarding your toys and not wanting to share. Cats are quite intelligent, and it really isn't that hard to teach them commands, they just think differently than dogs. Growing up, my family had a small pride of outside cats, plus my inside cat, and none of them went after the Guinea pigs we had at the time. The guinea pigs would be outside munching on grass, and the cats would watch or ignore them (instead they'd be tossing a fresh killed squirrel). One of the cats would actually cuddle with the guinea pigs and lick it, or she would climb into their carrying bucket and fall asleep and wait for one to jump in.

    Cats have a really high prey drive (and I feel that they are the only other animal that would kill for fun) and our one cat used to bring home headless muskrats that were bigger than him, yet they can curb their drive if you let them know that this other animal is not their food. Needless to say, that wouldn't stop them from play chasing the guinea pigs when they start running.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    I don't know, it would probably take a lot of work. I have a new pup with me for a few weeks and Beebe frequently goes into silent stalking mode whenever they are out in the yard together. This baby is half Beebe's size and Beebe won't take her eyes off her when she is in this mode (which is why they are leashed and separated and always supervised). I have been able to quickly break her death stares and call her off mid pounce or earlier with distractions and voice commands, with the leashes and baby gates as extra measures. And believe me, she is NOT allowed to get away with this stalking behavior on this pup so after the first day, she has really shown amazing restraint and respect for the rules when she would otherwise have tried to take this girl down."Common sense isn't so common"
  • okironokiron
    Posts: 735
    As others have said, how they react to the little ones in the family will be different than how they act to the little ones outside. But as for cats, Dahmer will leave the little ones alone period, regardless of if they're ours or not.
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Hmmm, not sure.

    My point in wanting to be able to call them off....let's say you're on a walk, dog bolts after something & the leash breaks!!! [ yes, I'm PARANOID!!! ]Would you be able to call them off? I would leave their natural hunting instincts intact & wouldn't want to mess with it, I'm thinking more for if they somehow escape chasing after something [ unleashed ] . You kno?

    I will get a video...eventually!!! lol ~
  • okironokiron
    Posts: 735
    IMO it would depend on a lot of factors. You might or you might not. I don't think any animal can give you 100% recall. I'm sure you could get your percentages pretty high will a lot of training though.
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    I know you can never get 100%, I'm just curious as to how high can it get...5%...20%...50%? lol ~
  • KFontaine04KFontaine04
    Posts: 1872
    With Miso it would probably be about -50% :)

    Sake might be more like -10%
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    We all know legs lives for the thrill of the hunt lmao ;p ~
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Its not impossible to get a nihon ken's recall close to reliable, I mean look at Haru - she's in training to hunt, obviously offleash. I'd say she's gotta be pretty close to 100%. Or the Kishu that hunt, again - have to be close to perfect to survive taking down a wild hog.

    My downfall was not building a solid than reinforcing a recall because of the "oh, shibas shouldn't be off leash anyway" belief. Yeah, well. They are first and foremost a hunting breed, regardless of how removed their genes are from their ancestors, who I'm sure were not tethered. Its how man creates dog in his image, and I failed to see the capacity of my shibas as hunters, rather they are now house dogs.
    I've found, though, that allowing them the (limited) freedom of a 20-30-50 foot lead, allowing them to sniff and track and hunt and pin decoys or the real thing revitalizes any instinct that 'housedog life' tries to quiet. On a 30ft lead, they give themselves space for a wide circumference from me, but run back to "check in" occasionally or when called (we've really been working on this since the duel escape episode at the meetup).
    My goal was to convey that when you check in, awesome things happen... so I let them have their 25 feet of exploring, then call them in and have a super special treat they ONLY get during "hunting trips" - Wellness Pure Rewards, the coup de gr
    Post edited by tsukitsune at 2009-06-26 17:59:06
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    I think you can channel it. Most hunting dogs are trained to hunt a specific animal, for instance, and leave the rest alone. Rakka learns which individuals are not to be chased, and she leaves them alone. She'll leave our cats and donkey alone, but if a strange animal comes along, all bets are off! It would probably work best if you trained the dog to hunt something, and trained it to leave other things alone and to abandon chase on command.
    -Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Heidi - are your dogs off leash most of the time when outdoors?
  • I think the type of hunting function is important to note here too. Gundogs hunt in concert with their human- (retrievers, spaniels, pointers) all of these stay reasonably close to the hunter, and find game and point or set and wait for the hunter, flush it out when the hunter is on scene, or in the case of retriever, sit patiently in a duck blind all morning and go get ducks when they fall, post-kill.

    My brother has two english pointers, who he does hunt woodcock and grouse with, but he also safely keeps hens at his home. The pointers will point all kinds of birds, but they never physically attack them. In the woods, the dogs will point a bird on the ground, and he will walk up and kick the leaves to get it to go up where he shoots it. The dogs are not in charge of flushing or catching. I think he has clear rules for his dogs at home, but I also think that pointers by nature will generally cease the prey sequence at stalk. He took them to the beach last month and they were trembling so much pointing gulls.

    Hounds are turned loose to find prey and make a whole lot of noise so the hunter can follow THEM, the process is not about doing what they are told as strictly (Think of how a border collie responds to the whistles of the shepherd for the opposite kind of dog- dependent!). Hounds need to be more independent because the hunter is not with them, he's following. (in fact a lot of european hounds come in a basset version to make it easier for hunters to keep up). Hounds and terriers actually are responsible to kill prey. Nihonken hunt more like hounds, I think- Walrus can correct me- and they are hunting to find and detain large dangerous animals till you show up with a gun, so it makes sense that they be absolutley committed (he who hesitates gets gored), brave as all get-out, and make up their own mind if its okay to turn their back on that boar to go to you or not just now. Our inus were selected for independent decision making, and we appreciate that about them (or we'd have goldens.) I also believe they hunt in groups and harrass to tire the boar from multiple angles- I have heard kai hunt in threes traditionally?

    I don't know what shibas used to hunt- I am trying to imagine how many shibas you need to successfully corner and tire a boar...
  • KFontaine04KFontaine04
    Posts: 1872
    Shikoku were the ones who hunted boar...

    I think the Shiba's were more bird/small critter hunters
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Yep yep. That was my thought process....I mean, Yes, my dogs I will keep leashed at all times, if they're in a yard, it'll be securely fenced with me watching them. But, things happen, loose boards, leash breaking, etc. I'd want to be prepared & be able to call them "off hunt" if I needed to, you know? Just in case.Even if it's only 50% with training, that's better than nothing!

    Teaching them to "hunt" one thing is a very interesting concept. ~
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Most of the traditional definitions I have found, calling shibas "little brushwood dogs", translates into vermin as what they were used to hunt, which I guess can mean anything from mice to cats depending on what you consider vermin.

    I think, at least the two female shibas I consistently see, have a very instinctual pattern of hunting wth one another - one will dive into tall grass, the other will follow, they seem to entrap the prey between them or corner it or at least tree it until its out of site, out of mind. They go out from us (base) in a sort of wide circumference and meet back somewhere near us, but usually just out of reach. They only come back for an incentive (the special treat).

    Even their hunting style is pretty, well, 'instinctually primitive' if thats a term. They catch, pounce, detain by holding it down and either play with it cat style and whip it around, or let me take it from them. Its wild, I absolutely love it.

    - - - - - - - - - -
    But to get back to point - sorry Osy! - yes, if you train them to have an incentive to come back to you (aka call off the 'wrong' prey) but give them an outlet for their prey drive (aka the 'one thing') I think you'll have a satisfied dog who can look to you for direction of what to exert that prey drive on, and what is OK to let go for a better thing (treats!)
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    Jen - yes, the dogs are off leash every day. I have a tie-out or long-line if I don't have the time or inclination to watch them, but normally the whole family just goes outside for a while each day. The pups stay close-by. Tojo mostly lounges on the porch, Skella never lets me out of sight, and Rakka usually follows me or Isaac (or someone else, if they're there - like Noah or whoever else). Rakka chases critters when she sees them, and I let her. She chases them a ways and comes back when they're out of sight.
    -Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    I think your pack's example, at least Rakka's example, is exactly what I assume my shibas would be like if we had the luxury of acreage like you do (I'm envious!). You seem to have very balanced dogs!
  • okironokiron
    Posts: 735
    Maybe we have different definitions on what 100% recall is. Mine is call then come. If I call, the dog runs around a bit more and then comes I don't consider that 100% recall.
  • ShikokuSpiritShikokuSpirit
    Posts: 1426
    YES! Someone else who trains their cat -high fives Osy-.

    I think cats are easier to train then dogs, they seem way more responsive. My cats also have the highest recall rate.

    I'm at about maybe 80% with Lynx and still hovering over the 50% rate with the Shikoku. And I mean with "instant" recall. Of course, they'll eventually come...but will they come right away? The Shikoku more so.

    Lynx during obedience has good recall, but during the "do as you please free roam" she sometimes likes to take a few extra sniffs on whatever she's tracking and then come. My cats always have a 100% reliable recall, they drop whatever they're doing and come running to me.

    Anyway...on curving the prey drive. What you'll need to teach the dog is "self-control" to the point where the dog can "wait" or "redirect". The Shikoku don't seem to have much anxiety like a Malinois does. So if you point them into another direction, they should be clear headed enough to be like, okay...we're not going after this one? So we'll do something else then.... I think the same applies to almost all of the other Japanese breeds as well. In other words, yes, it is quite possible to train a "call off" on a Nihon Ken.

    I actually have an easier time calling the Shikoku off.

    I sometimes run into problems with Lynx...she has such a ridiculously high prey drive and quite the determination. So instead of trying to call her off, I usually just have her "down"...she seems to have more self-control in a down then she does if she were to come back to she doesn't want to leave her prey. Though depending on what she has her eye on...I can sometimes call her "to heel"...but then she is boucing around wanting to go after her prey but knowing she needs to stay with me. Sometimes she breaks (staying heelside with me) and then I have to "AYT" and she comes back looking at me for direction but it's SOOOO EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for her to do this.

    The Shikoku are so much more calm and relaxed and really don't seem to care either way, lol. If they can chase after it, great, if not...that's fine too. However, Mr. Shoushuu loves his sheep -grins-...he may need an extra command or two...little jerk. However, we aren't around sheep very often <-- thus giving little to no training calling off sheep.<br />
    Either way, despite the difficulty levels - depending on the individual dog, "call-offs" can still be done. So long as they can't catch anything or maybe won't do any is okay to let them chase and get it out of their system every so often.
    - Corina A. Gonzalez | Lynxiene (Belgian Malinois), Shoushuu, Kotomi & Shuran (Shikoku Ken). | Along with a Clan of cats!
    Post edited by ShikokuSpirit at 2009-06-27 05:40:33
  • LisaWLisaW
    Posts: 198
    an important factor is also your timing... if you are able to react instantly and recalls your dog in the moment he started off its much more easier as when he had followed the prey for some seconds...

    I started training with my cats a week ago... and they learn soooo fast if you have the right tibit in your hand :) even my oldest one (14 years) gives now paw and stands on her backlegs... Im training them with the clicker and instead to my sweet Sophie, who hasnt totally understand that the click means a tibit and marks the right behavior, they checked it after 2 clicks or so.. its fascinating :)
  • it's a shaded area of degrees- they are genetically selected to be independent and choose for themselves, and to be fair to the dogs, our expectations for their behavior should appreciate that. But Ian Dunbar says you can train any dog a great recall/leave it if you start early enough (like, week 1), and have a relationship between you that reinforces it. :)
  • ShikokuSpiritShikokuSpirit
    Posts: 1426
    I think the relationship between you and your dog is the most important factor.

    The relationship between yourself and any animal for that matter.
    - Corina A. Gonzalez | Lynxiene (Belgian Malinois), Shoushuu, Kotomi & Shuran (Shikoku Ken). | Along with a Clan of cats!
  • absolutely. which reminds me to get on my Suzanne Clothier summary write up...
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    The human-dog bond is incredible! We've just started, I mean just started!, to comprehend and implement Behan's Natural Dog Training methods with Kitsune mostly, Tsuki teaches us *her* way, and without the total trust bond he has in us and we in him, we would never be able to truly appreciate the zest for life that he has hidden behind his fears. He is magnetized to us when we do pushing exercises or hide/seek games.. the relationship is EVERYTHING.
  • Three days ago, Banjo and I were going on our post-dinner walk. The little guy emerges from a bush violently shaking a possum or shrew or groundhog or some other small animal. I yell drop it and he ignores so I just tug on the leash (its on a harness) and panic. He senses this, drops the animal, and it is clearly wounded. It scurried back to its hiding spot and banjo and I walked away.

    Now, when we get near that bush, he goes bonkers. Gets excited, tries to pull me there, etc. Avoiding the bush is NOT an option as it is basically right along our egress points to the building.

    He is not treat responsive or anything when we are within 20 feet of the bush. My options right now are basically drag him away or try to pick him but when i get close he scampers around, i get tangled in the leash, I am wrapped up and tripping, I start to hate him, then question my life choices, etc. Not exactly a happy moment.


  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495

    Bootz and Jackie does this. Especially with the cats in our neighborhood. What I found that works is.

    1. Ask them to "leave it". Stops them from pulling but their attention is still set on the critter.

    2. I put my body in front of theirs so they are facing towards me.

    3. I ask her to sit. This usually calm her down and she looks at me to see what's going on.

    Once she's calm I tell her "ok let's go" and continue on our walk. (this is where I normally treat/praise)
  • I wonder if your method of response might be off @banjothebetadog. Something that I've noticed at least with training Nymeria is that when I get excited or frustrated, she feeds off of my energy level and gets even more excited or rambunctious - but when I'm calm in my commands, even though she's ripping through my brand new designer boots, she levels out and actually listens. I started trying this based off of this Joel Silverman's training methods. Just a suggestion... :-/
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    When it comes to rodents Juni is way quicker than me...luckily the city rats are too clever for her but she kills a few forest mice every year. And you should have seen the killing spree on the lemmings up north when we went hiking.
    My comfort is that rodents run down a hole when being chased so I don't risk having a dog run off for miles or running around chasing animals on heavily trafficked roads.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    @BanjotheBetaDog - Ahh yes... The NK memory is sharp and it is long.

    1) Anticipate his reaction BEFORE he starts to react. So, when you are 25 feet away from the bush, get his attention. Bring his absolute favourite treat. When he is calm, ask him to sit.

    2) Now, stop getting tangled in the leash. Whatever type of leash you are using (hopefully it is a standard leash and not a retractable), shorten it. Give him 2 feet of slack on the lead (that means two feet from your hand on the leash to his collar/harness). This gives you the ability to control where he goes and what he goes after.

    3) Work on whatever your focus command is. "Watch me", "Look at me", "Focus", whatever it is, work on it at home, in the park, next to a squirrel, etc. Use this command in times like this when there is something that you need to break his focus from. (This is not an immediate fix, but something to work towards.)

    4) Even if you do nothing, his interest in the bush will fade with time if there is never a furry little animal in it. With my pups, it usually takes a couple of weeks before they realize that it was a one time deal and that there are no more bunnies in the bush.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride

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