It can be very concerning when you come across a dead animal in the yard that your dog has so proudly caught.  It can be even more discontent if your family witnesses your dog catching a wild animal or brings it to the backdoor displaying their prize.  Not all dog breeds are natural hunters. 

Most dogs though have some predator instinct of hunting and catching prey from when they were wild animals.  This predator instinct was part of their survival.  So if you notice that your dog is all of a sudden killing a whole bunch of wildlife in your backyard, don’t be concerned this is all natural behavior, just know that your dog has an extremely strong hunting instinct.  

Even to this day pet owners will have dog’s trained to help them hunt rabbits and other types of wildlife.  It is not uncommon for farmers to use certain breeds to help with pest control such as rabbits or mice.  Using a dog to get rid of animals such as chipmunks, moles, squirrels, and mice is not a bad thing.  It can stop them from trying to nest in your yard, or eat up your garden vegetables. 

The problem is when you have a pet rabbit at home along with your pet dog.  This can cause a disaster if you have a breed that wants to chase and kill your pet rabbit instead of just living in harmonious company.  

Dogs that don’t look upon small animals as prey are the breeds you want if you don’t want them chasing wildlife, or attacking other small pets you may have in your home.  Now of course it can also be dependent on the specific dog, not just the breed.  There are certain breeds though that don’t usually harm small animals.  These include Maltese, Japanese Chin, Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Golden Retrievers, and Great Pyrenese.  All these breeds have a low prey drive. Even with these breeds it is important to train your dog and supervise them to make sure they don’t try and attack another animal in the house.  There are no guarantees that they will leave a small animal that they may take as prey alone.  

Some people like to hunt or have reason to have a dog that has a high hunting instinct.  There are some breeds that have a higher prey drive than other breeds.  Sled dogs, sighthounds, scent hounds, terriers, and guard dogs all have high prey drive.  They are the best companions when looking for a hunting buddy.  This does not just have to be small animal hunting like rabbits or mice.   There are breeds that fox hunt, bird hunt, or even deer hunt.  Some specific breeds that are known for their ability to hunt are Beagles, mini Beagles, Basset hounds, Dachshunds, Jack Russel Terriers, Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners, Labrador Retrievers, American foxhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds, Pointers, and Irish Setters.  Certain breeds will be better at certain animal hunting, but all these breeds have a high prey instinct.  


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Chasing animals can be just as fun for dogs as catching them.  Rarely will a pet dog that kills a rabbit in the backyard eat it.  Some of the fun is in the chase.  There are even dogs that if they catch a wild animal will sniff it and then encourage it to continue playing or running.   Dogs who chase sometimes use it as a release of pent up energy.  It can also be a great deal of fun.  If you don’t want your dog to chase rabbits or other wildlife you will have to train them.  Some dogs have that high prey instinct that will lead them to chase anything and everything.  This may not even be another animal, it could be a man on a bike or a car.  The chase is sometimes the reward instead of catching.

Desensitizing your dog to whatever they are chasing is sometimes all they need.  This means you are teaching them to ignore the animal or object that they want to chase.  If you want to desensitize them from chasing rabbits then you can find a toy that looks like a rabbit.  The goal is to train them to ignore the toy.  In the end they will learn to ignore real rabbits.  You can do this by placing your dog on a leash.  Place the toy in a certain area and while on the leash keep your dog away from the toy.  If they start to ignore the toy, reward their behavior, tasty treats work well.  Then take a step closer and repeat the process till you can remove the leash.  Once you can remove the leash you can continue to make them work on ignoring the toy.  

Your dog is not misbehaving if it kills a wild animal in your backyard.  It is all part of their strong hunting instincts that dog’s are programmed with.  Their natural instincts are to hunt and catch prey for survival.  Some breeds have low hunting instincts while others have strong ones.  Knowing the best fit for your family and needs is important when picking a dog breed.  Or knowing if you already have a dog that has a high natural hunting instinct that bringing a small animal like a guinea pig or rabbit into your home could end terribly.