"Naughty" dog - or predatory behavior?

Is your dog "naughty"?

Are they annoying, bad, disobedient, exasperating, or mischievous...

Or are they just following a predatory behavior pattern that their breed instincts tell them to do?

Moving to the Colorado foothills after a year of living in a more urban area, I didn’t realize that Rowan’s reaction to wildlife and his “naughty” behavior was him practicing his predatory behavior pattern.

My boy is a mix of American Staffordshire Terrier, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and a little bit of “mutt”…

AmStaffs aren’t usually considered a prey driven dog, although that can vary per individual dog.

The Catahoula Leopard Dog, also called the Catahoula Hog Dog, are used as stock dogs, bay dogs, tree dogs, watchdogs, and guard dogs. They can both air and ground scent for tracking, and today are frequently used for hunting hogs.

And Rhodesian Ridgeback. From the AKC: “Though the breed was made famous in its native Africa for its skill at tracking and baying, but never, ever killing, lions, today Ridgebacks are cherished family dogs whose owners must be prepared to deal with their independence and strong prey drive.”

What is Predatory Behavior?

The Predatory Behavior Pattern typically follows a sequence such as Rowan’s:

Scent - Stalk - Chase - Grab - Kill - Dissect - Consume

Your dog may follow all or part of the sequence, or have another breed specific behavior which falls into a similar behavior sequence.


one of my dogs predatory behavior triggers, a coyote hidden in the dried grass, overlooking a hiking trail

Scent: He definitely practices scenting wildlife on a daily basis!

It can be challenging for me in the summertime, but in the wintertime with tracks in fresh snow I can get a little “picture” of what he’s smelling. He recognizes the scent of rabbit, squirrel, rat, deer, elk, and coyotes for sure, and most likely recognizes the scent of cat and fox as well.

Stalk: We’ve successfully gone from about an 80% chase rate for rabbits to under 5% over the years we’ve lived here! And that’s due to almost daily practice and reinforcement with treats.

Because harassing wildlife is illegal where I live (and in most places!), Rowan isn’t allowed to express all of the steps in his predatory sequence.

Chase: This is something that we struggle with. Rowan would absolutely love to chase a deer into the next county, but that just isn’t going to happen.

Our first dog trainer here was working with us to practice an emergency U-turn and “chase me” game to meet his Chase behavior pattern, but where we really need something like that to work is on the neighborhood trails, and they aren’t safe for an emergency turn and run…

Grab - Kill - Dissect - Consume

These aren’t really behaviors that we practice on our walks or hikes either, but do play with at home in the yard or house with toys.

Rowan’s friend (and occasional dog sitter) John is one of his favorite people to help him totally destroy a toy whenever he visits, usually leaving the house in a fluff-covered mess of toy innards.

Check out the new information page on Equipment for Predatory Dogs 

Read about the Equipment that I use with Rowan

I’ve learned some new things and I’d like to share with you!

I really wish I would have learned about Simone Mueller and Predation Substitute Training years ago, but I’m sharing it with you today in hopes that it can help you:


I’m going to be working through her book “Hunting Together” and am looking forward to adding some of the elements that I think will give Rowan the opportunity to fulfill more of his prey drive.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

(I’m not an affiliate of Predation Substitute Training, and I get no financial or other benefit from mentioning this here)

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