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How do I stop my dog from chasing after squirrels in our backyard?

Asked a year ago

My dog LOVES the squirrels in the yard. He is a big Great Dane and I don't think he wants to eat them but I know he can harm them with his huge paws. I just want the squirrels to use my yard freely and I want my dog to have a more gentler approach with them. What do I do?

Yahir Montgomery

Friday, March 31, 2023

It sounds like your dog has a high prey drive. Many dogs are hard-wired to chase small animals like squirrels to survive. You can train him not to respond to squirrels by distracting and rewarding him. Place your dog on a 6-foot leash and give the sit/stay command. When a squirrel runs by, distract him with a food reward, then praise him for not chasing. You will want to practice this repeatedly so that your dog associates the squirrel's presence with you giving him treats. You will want to do distract and reward drills over and over until your dog looks at you when he sees a squirrel in the yard. It is impossible to entirely eliminate the chasing behavior, but this should redirect it.

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