I often hear things stated as facts that really aren’t. I’m sure you do as well. In this case, the statements are about things like prey drive in dogs. Things like: “You can’t teach a dog not to chase wildlife.” Or, “You can’t teach a dog not to chase wildlife without the use of punishment/corrections.” (usually referring to shock collars.) Or, “Once a dog has a taste for blood (has killed another animal) you can’t stop them, they will do it again.”

Does it take work to accomplish those things? Of course! Is it impossible? No! Dogs CAN be taught not to chase wildlife. Dogs can be kept under control despite having caught an animal previously. And it CAN be done without shock collars or other harsh punishments.

How do I know? I’ve done it. More than once. My Greyhound Jahzara passed away in 2012. She was an awesome dog, very well trained and very bonded with her Momma. Most Greyhound rescue groups ask that dogs adopted from them never be allowed off leash in unfenced areas. Some dogs, given the chance, will run. And run. But I did allow Jahzara off leash (once she was well trained, of course!) She hiked with me off leash. When we moved to Sedalia, she walked off leash on our property every day. She loved to chase bunnies. And sometimes I would let her. She just loved the chase and had no intent to kill. She could be in full pursuit of a bunny and I could call her off. She caught a bunny once and had it in her mouth. I told her to drop it, she did so immediately, and the bunny ran off.

Romeo loves to chase bunnies too. He’s actually had several bunnies in his mouth. most of them were baby bunnies, as he’s very good at finding their nests. I sometimes allow him to chase as well, but I have also called him off the chase. And he sometimes refrains from chasing without me saying a word. I have also asked him to drop bunnies that were already in his mouth, and he did.

These skills are not easy to attain, especially for dogs who really are hunters at heart. They take a lot of work. But they don’t require harsh punishments. I have never used a shock collar on my dogs and have no intention of ever using one. And I can and have trained my dogs to a high level of reliability. But I won’t use harsh punishments, because that, in my opinion, would be a failure on my part as a trainer. The reason punishment is “needed” is because we are either too lazy to put in the work or don’t have the right skills to do it. (But guess what, there are trainers out there with the right skills who can help you get there!)

So, before you accept something as “fact” about dogs in general or about your dog specifically and his/her ability to learn, reconsider whether you’ve been led to believe something that is not true.