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Lately, I have been having a real problem with Nelson and squirrels. He is a sweatheart and listens fairly well at 15 months. Whenever we walk by birds, cats or anything that he would love to chase - I can see his body change, ears up, tail up etc. I tell him to 'leave it' and he focusses on me and it's all good.

 

The one thing that I don't know how to control is his obsession with the squirrels. As soon as he sees one, he is uncontrollable. I try to have him sit and calm down, but it takes him at least 10 minutes to let it go. When off-leash, he has tried to climb up a tree while we were at the park. Yes, have you have seen a dog try to climb a tree? He ran onto a bike path the other day to chase a squirrel and it was a close call for the biker, they could have both got hurt very bad.

 

When there are squirrels around, all his mind can do, is think about the squirrel. There is nothing he will listen too. I live in Vancouver where there are lots of squirrels and I would love to train him to get over this. I've stopped taking him anywhere off-leash that isn't fenced in or squirrel free (like the dog beach). Which is tough, as Vancouver has hardly any dog parks, just lots of grassy fields to play that aren't fenced in. Even most dog parks in my area, aren't fenced in. I do not want to take him to grass fields to play ball right now, as I can't trust him and I obviously don't want him to get hit by a bike or car.

 

I am looking for some advice on this and would love to hear if you guys had similar experience with (other) animals. I wonder if I have to go back to basic recall training, long leads, treats and clicker. Go to places where there are squirrels, have him on a long lead - and get him used to them?

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Yea i would try long line! Reel him in and praise him and play with him for attending to you. Or reel him in and start heading in the complete opposite direction of the squirrels until he calms down. So it's like he learns if he does that stuff he loses his chance to be there.

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Emily Larlham has a wonderful new dvd called "Harnessing the Hunter," which is all about lowering arousal and building reliability around prey. Exactly the squirrel issue! I bought it and it is super user-friendly, with lots of creative exercises that are helpful in everyday life as well. The dvd is also really encouraging because she has two hunting-breed dogs that were NUTS about prey (it's on the video) and now are calm around prey. The dvd is available at Tawzerdog.com.

 

Leslie

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"all squirrels must die!"

 

Seriously I used the CU exercises to teach him self control around squirrels, and rewarded him with releasing him to chase.

 

Hes still totally obsessed, but he can manage himself and do as he is asked even if half of his brain is on the squirrel.

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For both skunks and squirrels, I did the walk away thing with Nessie. I just ignored/did not verbally or physically correct the wild behaviour (rearing up on her hind legs, hard breathing, fixating, zoomies) and got her the heck out of there - at first I had to jog away. Now I just have to wait until she softens her gaze a bit and the "let's go!" works. Still not 100%, but much less chance of shoulder injury.

 

Now I'm working on the same protocol with horses (she is horse stupid as all get out), but not many of those walk the streets of Vancouver.

 

-Rich

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I'm not the guy to give adivce to you on this. I never would take the pleasure of chasing a hare or rabbit away from any dog. I let mine run away on them when he's in a safe open space. Dogs have no problem learning that they are permitted to chase a hare but not a cat or chicken.

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I kinda agree w my dogs, squirrels are evil and should be eradicated. I'm starting to think chipmunks too--we're overrun with the varmits!

Where I live it's skunks. There's one or another of them "going off" every day/night. We used to only see them in the night, but idiots that leave cat/dog food out on their porches have caused a boom in their numbers. (Raccoons too.) So they are out in the daytime now as well. My neighbors dogs get skunked all the time. I don't let mine go out unattended, and she calls off, knock wood!

 

Squirrels are evil. They thrive on making trouble with dogs & cats. I hear they're good eatin'. But we aren't allowed to shoot 'em 'cause we're inside the city limits. Too bad.

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