By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In all dogs, the prey drive is extremely instinctive since they are natural hunters. But in their desire to follow that instinct, we as caregivers, must limit where and when this activity can be permissible. After all, dangers can lurk not only in the possible prey itself, such as your dog being bitten, by a squirrel or a snake, but also the possible dangers in the quest, such as getting hit by a car, etc.

It’s up to us, then, to redirect this natural desire and channel this energy into more appropriate behavior. Refocus the need to hunt into a more playful activity.

Practice fun activities in your yard first or a place where there are no other animals present that could potentially initiate the prey drive. It’s important to practice the “sit” and “stay” commands first. Once these are mastered, (be calm and patient as it can take time with different dogs) use a high-end treat such as a piece of chicken or steak to reward and distract your dog’s attention once potential “prey” is encountered.

Call your dog to you and have him/her initially sniff the high-end treat. Once your dog’s attention is on you, treat and reward. This can help turn the “hunt” mentality into “play” mentality and to stay focused on you instead.

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