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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20175
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Customer Question

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
How long has she been doing this?
Is she spayed?
What does she do if she catches it?
Are you keeping her on a short leash when you see other animals, dogs and even people since she started this?
How is she off leash?
Has she had any obedience training?
If so, how often do you work with her on obedience?
What have you tried so far?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jane

Jess is generally very shy when she first meets people, she is very playful and obedient at home. Before I moved to the lakes she socialised quite happily with other dogs in the park, although somewhat boisterously as she likes to play rough. She has been spayed. I only tend to let her off the lead now when she is in the forest as her behaviour cannot be trusted if there are other animals around. Today my friend let her off the lead in the park and she ran the full length of the field to attack a man that was jogging. She has never done this before although she is also starting to show aggression to males that come into the house and nipped a sky engineer last week. She is obviously reprimanded verbally when she shows this behaviour and i have tried a muzzle. As I say, she never used to be like this and Ive had her since I took her from RSPCA kennels when she was 4 months old. I have a greyhound male the same age and unfortunately he is beginning to copy her behaviour,

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi Val,
Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. There are a few different things. This might be medical in nature. Dogs who are in pain often react aggressively toward other animals and even humans. However, a dog with a thyroid imbalance often displays sudden aggression. Since this is recent behavior, perhaps there is a thyroid issue such as hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, it does take special testing to rule out this cause. Read more on sudden aggression and medical causes here:

Now the chasing of small animals or large for that matter can be hard to break since it is often tied to prey drive. The best way of combating this behavior is not only a lot of exercise to tire your girl out, but an alternative item to chase and strict training as well, both problem specific and obedience.

The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
For chasing prey You can try and train her not to bother the various animals but it will be a difficult job and you will need to work with her several times a day and have access to these animals if possible. I'm not positive you'll be able to do it totally either since it does involve prey drive but you can try.
You will need a cage that you can put the prey animal in that you can use to tempt her. You will have your dog on a leash. Take her near the animal and the minute she even looks at tit, you will give him a correction. A correction will be a quick short tug on the lead and a low toned firm "NO". It will probably take quite a few corrections until she pointedly ignores the chick. Once she does that, then give her a thin slice of hot dog as a treat. This provides negative reinforcement for even looking at the animal and positive reinorcement for ignoring them. Practice at least 2-3 times a day for at least 15 minutes each time.
Once she seems to be ignoring the animal consistently, then you might try putting a basket muzzle on her (to prevent her biting the animal and seeing how she does just trailing the leash. If she continues to ignore the animal, reward, reward and reward her. If she doesn't, give a good correction. Repeat until she is never chasing or looking at them. You will need to do this for each animal she chases where possible. Work on obedience and get a good recall down with her. Always call her to you several times a day for no reason than to reward her from coming with a hot dog slice or liver sliver. Make coming to you more rewarding than chasing animals. Hard but not impossible especially if she gets used to coming the first time every time.

The other thing is that you may be tensing up when you see animals and now even dogs and people. This transmits down the leash and the dog picks up on it. She doesn't know why your are worried, just that you are worried and automatically figures it is the animal, person or dog that has you worried and thus reacts. So try to not tense up or pull her back. If you have the basket style muzzle use it to help you not tense up or worry.

You can use a similar technique as the animals with dogs and people but have them walk past you and your dog at a distance rewarding her for not even looking at them and giving the reprimand when she reacts.

BAT training may help as well. Read about this here:

Since your male is starting to react, work with him as well to stop the behavior before it gets worse.

In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I describe, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Just a quick follow up to see if you had a chance to try any of my suggestions. I hope you found my suggestions helpful.