Chase No More

Chasing is such a problematic behaviour. It can turn a lovely walk into your worst nightmare. When you see your dog taking off after a hare or a deer, or a cyclist, and he doesn't respond to your recall, it brings all the fear and panic in the world. And when your dog disappears, and you can no longer see where he went, you feel so powerless and lost.

I'm talking from my own experience of living with dogs with very high prey drive, who chased anything that moved. I had lost most of my dogs at some point or another, for up to 2 hours, and I know what it feels like to search for them frantically not knowing what to do. They all came back after their adventure totally unharmed, happy and satisfied, but for me it was very stresful, as I was expecting the worst. I do know of dogs that had been killed, injured, or never found, after chasing an animal.

For years my efforts at solving this issue were unsuccessful. I think I believed that the only way of fixing it was with an electric collar, and I never wanted to go that way. So I resorted to walking in safe-ish places, using long lines when necessary, and just hoping they will not chase this time. They did, and I was stressed even more.

I trained my dogs a lot, we practised recall on every walk. They were fantastic until something moved in front of them. Then they would bolt after it like bullets, leaving me with tears in my eyes. 

Then, 3 years ago, I started learning at Absolute Dogs, and playing their games. Things improved a lot. At that time I already had Arco, my Belgian Malinois, a breed very well known for super high prey drive. Arco "didn't disappoint" - he chased everything. The games made him much more attentive and responsive, but there still were times he would run after animals, especially hares, as they are impossible to spot before they are in full flight. One day he chased one far away from me, and through a field with sheep in it.

I can't even describe the stress I went through, it's a miracle I'm not all grey now. That moment was a catalyst for me, I doubled or even trippled my efforts, and really put my mind to solving the issue. And I did. I put together a rough plan and followed it, and now I was seeing the improvements I so longed for.

Since then I worked with a few other dogs, and the plan, or programme, changed quite a lot, it's now more organised and structured. But it's still evolving, as every dog brings different issues to the table. I think I will be forever refining it, especially that I keep learning about dog training in general, and prey drive specifically, all the time.

Now, the latest version of the programme is available as 1-2-1 training, and soon it will be turned into an online membership style course. That means that for a monthly fee you'll have access to all the course materials and a Facebook group where I'll be able to help you if you struggle with anything.

Please get in touch if you're in the place I once was, where walks are not what you expected when you got your dog, where it feels like there is no hope, like your dog couldn't care less about you at that moment. It's not like that and there is hope. You just need to understand what's going on in your dog's head, and how to turn it around successfully.

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