|Posted by tlhsny on April 12, 2009 at 10:51 PM|
It's once again Spring, and the Tri-Lakes Humane Society is beginning to receive phone calls in regards to dogs running loose, chasing people and cars.
If your dog is prone to chasing after cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, children or other animals, you should take the situation very seriously. Dogs have a natural "prey" drive, and that is why they love to chase after vehicles, people or other animals. Some dogs are merely trying to get the person or animal to "play" with them by chasing, jumping, barking, etc.
However, a dog's "prey" drive can also lead to "hunting", and this is where the behavior can become very serious. Some dogs will actually hunt down a person or animal with the intention of attacking in an aggressive manner. Certain breeds have a higher tendency to chase and kill prey (sporting, herding, hounds and terriers). However any breed, even mixed breeds, can have a strong prey drive.
When a dog is searching and stalking their prey, with the intention of chasing and killing their "prey", this is a very dangerous behavior. It is referred to as predatory aggression, and it is a natural reaction to movement. The scariest part of predatory aggression, is that there are very few warnings signs. The dog will sometimes run up to their victim, while other times the dog moves slowly, until it is close enough to attack. An attack can be nipping at the heels of person or other animal, or it can be a full on bite in an attempt to hang on and drag the person or animal to the ground. These types of attacks can lead to severe injuries or even death.
If your dog has shown strong predatory aggression, you should NEVER allow your dog to run loose off of your own property. This is not only for your and your dog's safety, but for the public's safety as well. If your dog is loose, and is caught chasing cars, bicyclists, or people, you can be charged with a violation of your local dog control ordinance. Additionally, if your dog attacks someone while it is loose, you could be facing a Dangerous Dog Complaint, in which you will have to appear at a hearing where your municipal justice will decide whether or not your dog is dangerous. If your dog is found to be dangerous, the judge will then issue court orders, which could include permanent confinement, or euthanasia.
The best way to avoid owning a dog with predatory aggression, is to properly socialize and train your dog. One great way is to enroll in a beginner's dog class with your dog, as this will help with both socialization with people and other dogs. Contact your local animal shelter to find out if there are dog training classes available in your area. A properly trained and socialized dog will be less likely to engage in aggressive behavior. Always walk your dog on a leash, as this is the best way to control your dog. If your dog runs off of your property on a regular basis, install a fence to contain your dog. If you can prevent your dog from getting loose, you will erase the chances of future problems from taking place.
- Lena Bombard
TLHS Manager/Dog Control Officer