2001-Thu Sep 20 05:04:55 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
When it comes to protecting their yards from squirrels, many dogs see themselves as canine Homeland Security agents. Dogs bred to flush small animals are especially inclined to this behavior. Our Wire Fox Terrier, Scooter, was notorious for patrolling the fence line, even though she was more likely to befriend any squirrel she caught, rather than harm or kill it.
For some dogs, though, chasing after small animals can be a safety hazard. I worked with a Beagle named Gus who became obsessed with sniffing out the trail of a squirrel, pursuing it even hours after it had passed through the yard. Despite reinforced and seemingly secure fencing, Gus would find his way out of his yard to pursue to the squirrel. His escapes and his single-minded focus on tracking the intruder worried his family. Dogs like Scooter and Gus, who cannot seem to resist the urge to stalk squirrels, need other outlets to channel their predatory and chase behavior.
There are a few ways to redirect your dog’s attention away from the squirrels — your success may depend on what it is about the squirrels that intrigues your dog (is it their scent or their presence?). I suggest you try several — or all — of these methods and see what works best. And consider keeping your dog close to you on leash in the beginning to help him stay focused and not be tempted by the squirrels.
Scent games are one way to redirect your dog’s desire to pursue interesting smells. One easy scenting game is “find it,” which redirects the dog’s seeking behavior away from the squirrels and toward toys and food items. A simple version of “find it” is to scatter kibble in the grass and let your dog search for it. This gives him an opportunity to hunt for his meal, and use his seeking and sniffing skills. "Find it" challenges your dog mentally and physically — and he is rewarded for his hard work with a delicious meal. Doing this task once or twice a day during mealtime can help channel your dog’s energy and focus away from the squirrels, and give him something else to do when he's out in your yard.
Another "find it" game is a kind of modified Easter egg hunt: Have your dog seek toys, food puzzles and chew items that you have hidden in the yard. To encourage your dog to pursue an alternative scent trail, toys can be covered with a game scent purchased at a hunting supply store. Try to choose a scent that your dog is unlikely to find in his normal environment and be aware that these scents are best kept outside.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.