Early Morning Adrenaline Rush

My thoughts as I walked with Shiva this morning:

Crap, I can’t believe I slept in. I have so much to get done. Jeepers, it’s really humid. I hope that guy delivering papers doesn’t want to chat with us. I don’t have time to chat and Shiva is a little jumpy this morning. If he wants to chat I am going to have to be nice. I don’t feel like being nice. I don’t have time to be nice. Maybe I’ll let Shiva bark at him to scare him away. Oh, good, he’s getting back in his car. Whew!

Quack! Quack!

Uh… What?

Hmmm… This could be interesting. Is there any chance we could just keep walking?

I’m going to say no. What to do?


While Shiva has never actually caught a duck before – not for lack of trying – I have no doubt that if I was to be so unfortunate, she would kill it. I’ve seen how she is with her toys. She wouldn’t kill it for food but there is a point where pure instinct kicks in. Once she had that bird in her grasp, she wouldn’t let go. Training can teach a dog control over her impulses but I am not sure if it can ever completely halt the natural prey drive of a dog like Shiva.

Since most birds can fly, they are pretty safe from her nasty jaws.

I don’t think I’ll be letting her loose in a chicken coop anytime soon. Or ever.

49 thoughts on “Early Morning Adrenaline Rush

  1. well you wanted to work on your walks, looks like someone sent you a distraction. Luna would not have “watched”… guess that’s what I get for having a hunting dog, nor would I probably require her to, but she would be holding a stand/whoa probably. Good work, there is hope! And as far as the paper guy, why not just tell him you don’t have much time this morning and that you need to get some training in. Maybe next time. I turn people down all the time as I am usually on a schedule. Ok I admit, it’s usually because there is no way I am letting their crazy, ill mannered dog say hello to mine. I am to be her ambassador right? And knowing she would want to “calm” that dog down I don’t want to put her in that position and not be able to let her teach that dog a thing or two, because you know how they would take it..
    Wow, tangent much, sorry. Cute clip, and I agree she has some prey drive.
    Have a great friday


    • It’s funny, I didn’t even remember using the word “watch”. It is her cue to look at me but I say it so often and without thinking. Looking at the video, I’d say she did a decent job as well. I’d prefer her to not lunge in the first place but maybe we’re on the right track. It’s funn what others notice and you don’t!

      I agree, that’s probably what I should say. But for some reason I operate on a “don’t want to offend anyone” level that puts me in a lot of awkward positions. The dog is usually a great way to get out of them, especially if she barks, since apparently I am too much of a wuss to get out of them on my own. 😛

      Thanks for the comments!


  2. That was very impressive. It took her a moment but Shiva did hear you over all the messages about the duck flooding her brain. I think you’ll be in great shape for your Canine Good Neighbor test.

    My dog Christie once killed a baby raccoon. Agatha showed no interest in it. My husband never quite forgave Christie for it. But I think Christie just had a stronger prey drive (and we didn’t see the raccoon b4 she did and I never trained her to behave any differently; I gotta take some responsibility too).

    BTW, have you ever taken the Volhard personality test for Shiva? Wendy Volhard claims dogs have four major drives: prey, pack, fight, or flight. A lot of her suggestions about dog training rely on understanding which drive motivates your dog the most and working with it. You can find the test here if you’re curious: http://www.volhard.com/pages/canine-personality-profile.php.


    • Aww, I hope you are right. We have come a long way but when it comes to birds, Shiva loses her brain. If she hadn’t been on a leash, she wouldn’t have paid attention to anything I said or did. Not until she at least got that first lunge in.

      It’s only natural for some dogs to hunt and kill. I think it takes a lot of work to train that out of them. My childhood dog, who was awesome in so many other ways, once killed a neighbour’s turkey. The bird was huge, fully grown and the neighbour was quite upset at the loss. She’d never killed anything before that point, or even seemed interested in hunting. Sometimes it just happens, unfortunately. At the time my parents didn’t even know she had left the yard.

      It’s so funny you should link to that! A friend of mine just posted that test on FB last night and I spent the next hour and a half filling it out and examining the results. They will be featured in an upcoming post. 😉


  3. Gwynn does that same intent watching of ‘prey’ animals… although if he sees cats, he whimpers and stares at them, the same way as he does if he sees a dog off in the distance that we’re not heading towards, so I think that the kitties of our neighbourhood are safe from bloodshed, although probably not safe from being thoroughly cleaned by dog tongue.


    • Shiva does the same around cats. She lives with one so she knows how they operate. She will absolutely chase a cat if she was able and one ran away from her, but she wouldn’t hurt one. Just sniff and try to get him to play.

      She’s just an all-out bird brain. 🙂


    • Hahahaha! Oh, pigeons are a struggle for us as well, especially if we head downtown. I feel so sorry for those poor birds. I’m sure she has given a few a heart attack!

      Thank goodness for wings, eh?


    • I’m glad you think so! I wasn’t so pleased with her lunging – we should be passed that by now – but maybe I should cut her some slack. On-leash she is much better than when we started. But off is a different story altogether! She and Stumpy would have some good hunting times, no doubt.


    • She did lunge, that’s when the camera went all crazy and you got an image of the grass. 😛 But she has never been a barker, not when she is focused on something. She will whine sometimes out of excitement and frustration, but doesn’t bark at prey.

      Only at strange men who leer. 😉


  4. I am thoroughly impressed! Delilah would have lunged for it pulling me with her. Someday you will hear our story of the birds on the beach in North Carolina. 🙂

    Great job!


    • I will be looking forward to it! Shiva has chased a shore bird a time or two, unfortunately. I try to distract her in that case which sometimes works. All bets are off when the leash is.



  5. Heh well we had two mallards (males) hanging out in the neighbor’s yard for a couple of weeks (and no fences in our neighborhood). Silly (stupid) ducks, don’t you know 2 duck dawgs live next door? Luckily stay and leave it and knowing yard boundaries worked!

    Shiva is a good dog too, I see. 🙂

    Also, we wanted to let you know that we nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award because we enjoy your blog!

    Check out more info here: http://2browndawgs.com/2011/06/10/4063/


    • Ugh, Shiva was barking at someone outside the door and made me hit “post comment” before I was done commenting!

      Anyway, I think your stay and leave it must be very impressive for your dogs to leave such tempting specimens alone like that. Especially for two chessies who were bred to chase ducks. Good for you!

      And thanks for the award! You are too kind!


  6. That’s really impressive that she sat for you like that! Our dogs have really high prey drives too, which makes it hard since we have so many squirrels and bunnies around! Any of the pits would certainly kill a small animal if they caught it, but Molly (the German Shepherd) actually did catch a squirrel once. She had the squirrel pinned by the tail, she sniffed it, and then she let it go. I’m sure she scared the heck out of that squirrel, but for Molly, it was all a game!


    • I don’t know if it’s that impressive as she did have to lunge first before she could focus enough to listen. 😛 But maybe we are farther along in our training than I thought. Thanks so much for the kind words.

      Shiva doesn’t chase squirrels all that often. They are too small and blend in to the ground. She will chase them if she sees them but most often she is too busy sniffing dirt.

      Good for Molly! And what a relief for you!


  7. Wow! I still can’t walk Sadie right next to the chicken coop at the end of the block (we have progressed to being able to walk down the middle of the road with minimal pulling and lunging for tasty chicken). Shiva did great!


    • You have a chicken coop at the end of the block?? Craziness! I don’t know how well we’d do with that one either. I’d say walking down the middle of the road without lunging is pretty awesome! Good for you!


  8. LOL! Good job Shiva! You may be interested in looking into the premack principle. Rio is a squirrel chaser extraordinaire … he used to lose it at the sight of a squirrel. Now, when he sees a squirrel he gets into a nice heel position and gives me LOTS of eye contact… because once in a blue moon, when the situation is right, I let him chase the squirrel (while on leash and I run behind him so the squirrel always gets away lol). It is a RARE reward but it happens and so he gambles every time there is a squirrel and gives me lots of attention in hopes that “MAYBE THIS TIME I’LL GET TO CHASE!”



    • I have read a lot about that before but I guess I haven’t worked too much on putting it into practice. What you describe with Rio is exactly what I’d like to get Shiva to do one day. I am okay with her chasing, sometimes, only ever on command, and only ever when it is very obvious the prey will get away without issue.

      Thanks for the great reminder!


  9. I wonder if she would, really, kill it. George plays rough with his toys, but whenever he catches a rabbit (he’s got a high prey instinct, too), he comes to a sudden halt and looks at you holding the rabbit in his mouth. Then he lets it go unharmed…I’ve never used him for hunting properly, but apparently a good whippet is supposed to bring the rabbit back alive and unharmed!

    Having watched that, I still think there’s a bit of whippet in Shiva, somewhere.


    • I guess I can’t know for sure as she’s never been given the opportunity. Squirrels, rabbits, birds, cats, she has chased them all but, except for cats which she sees as a playmate, she has yet to actually catch. It’s hard to say. I just invision that classic terrier head shake, which is what she does immediately with all new toys.

      You aren’t the first person to suggest that. Who knows?


    • Cats, eh? Luckily while Shiva will chase a cat, I don’t worry about her hurting one. Since she lives with one at home she has learned to treat them with a semblance of respect.

      Greyhounds and cats, however, are much different.


  10. We have a lot of squirrels that come into our garden. Kenzo mostly likes to play with them like cats do (although the latter are lethal in the end) and makes a “mark” bite, if you can call it a bite at all. For him it is more play. The squirrel survives that. Viva on the other hand is ruthless, she kills the squirrel instantly 😦


    • Luckily Shiva hasn’t killed anything yet. Hopefully it will stay that way.

      It’s so hard isn’t it? but interesting how the two dogs, both the same breed, have such different reactions to prey. It shows how much personality might come into play.


  11. Sometimes I think Frankie is not a “real” dog: He doesn’t chase birds, run after bunnies on the trail, or do other dog-like things (though he loves his squeaky toy, so there must be some vestigial prey drive). He probably falls into the “flight” category in the profile that Pamela describes so it’s interesting to read about what most dogs do…

    BTW, my email subscription got dropped when you changed the format (which looks great) and I’m probably not the only one that happened to. I just re-subscribed successfully.


    • That profile is definitely interesting. I won’t say too much about it as I intend to write a full post, but flight was Shiva’s lowest score.

      Frankie is definitely a “real” dog. He’s got the soft, heart-tugging eyes to prove it!

      Thank you so much! I realised that, much too late, and wish I had known the subscriptions wouldn’t carry on when I switched to wordpress.org. I just assumed they would. I am so sorry for the confusion and trouble!


  12. Shiva did wonderfully well! Ducks don’t really bring out the prey drive in Frankie and Beryl, they just chase them for fun. But they probably know they can’t catch them. If they did catch one I think it would be history. Frankie has got numerous possums and I think it’s just as well we don’t have squirrels here.

    It looked like you have plenty of control over Shiva … but I guess the real test would have been if she was off-leash.


  13. Shiva actually did surprisingly well! Riley would have been going into her high pitched squealing/yelping out of frustration and excitement. I was impressed that Shiva stayed quiet!

    I totally understand about the high prey drive…Riley has got such a high prey drive! I dread when we see a squirrel, bird, or rabbit on a walk…she just about drags me down and lets the whole neighborhood know about her frustration. Ugh.

    Anyway, Shiva did pretty good, all in all!


  14. Shiva looks like she has pretty good control to me. While she went for it initially, she did listen to you! We didn’t read a blog post about how you had no skin left on your hands and knees after she drug you down the street and killed the duck. 😛

    I do agree with you, some dogs just have too strong a prey drive to have it trained out of them. The best you can do is manage it. I’ve known of a very few Greyhounds whose prey drive was so strong that they killed small animals even while wearing a track muzzle. Fortunately, those dogs are pretty rare, but I know that they are out there.


  15. Pssst…Shiva! If you wants me to control the Society for the Protection of Shivas, you just let me know. I mean, that is a clear and obvious case of Shiva torture. First, your mom wouldn’t let you go get that duck and THEN she asked you to take your eyes off it! Tsk, tsk. I would never have expected such cruel and unusual punishments as this from you mom. Never! Very sad indeed.

    Sympathetic wiggles & wags,


  16. My two major take-aways from watching the video:
    1. Man, that is one chill duck.
    2. Good job on staying calm and handling it well! You said you had slept in, had other things on the brain, and even if you had been displeased at Shiva’s lunging, you stayed calm, cool and collected. Which in turn feeds Shiva’s reaction. I’d say the video shows more about you as a confident dog guardian than Shiva’s prey drive. Especially because you keep rolling the video the whole time to capture everything! (Video + duck = happy coincidence?)


  17. I think Shiva is so adorable! I’m actually impressed. I’m not sure Jasper would have even heard me if I was asked him to “watch me” or “leave it”. Daisy would be interested, but wouldn’t know what to do with it even if she was off leash.


  18. I think Shiva did a very good self-control, she’s cool! Well, I’ve a feeling that she might be planning of her moves to the duck secretly while she was watching it. The only problem is she was leashed. LOL.


  19. haha you sound like our folks (about chatting on walkies 🙂 We’ve never caught any birds either, but they’re kinda fun to chase – if the folks would let us!

    PeeS – Thanks so much for your kind comments about our Gracie Girl.

    The Road Dogs


  20. That was awesome. I’m pretty sure I’d be losing an arm, should that same situation have happened with Jack.

    That ONE lunge Shiva did? If it were to happen repeatedly, say 10-20 times in a 20-second time span, that would be more like Jack. It’s his “I saw a dog! / I saw a squirrel! / I saw a human! / I saw a shadow! / I saw a leaf fall!” lunge


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