Monday, November 10, 2014

Wolfdogs, Prey Drive, and a Suicidal Guinea Fowl

Prey drive is inherent to many breeds of dogs.  Sometimes it can be "fixed" and typically it can be managed.  I am a member of the camp who manages it.

Bruce and Faolan both have a strong prey drive.  Bruce more so than Faolan.  Bruce cannot be trusted around smaller dogs, while weirdo Faolan tends to be afraid of smaller dogs, and ok with cats when supervised.  Faolan is excellent with children.

A couple of months ago, I let the dogs out into the play yard to run around one beautiful morning before work.  Neeko and Faolan immediately ran to a back corner, but I didn't pay much attention.  Next thing I knew, I heard this awful noise, and saw them playing tug with something.

They were playing tug with a rabbit, and the awful noise was it screaming.  I quickly corralled Bruce, because he is an asshole who wants anything that could be remotely considered food, and did not want to deal with a fight.

Neeko was quickly bored, so I ushered her inside as well.  By the time I returned outside to Faolan, he had eaten half the rabbit, and buried the other half, caching it for later...

wolfdog prey drive, mid content wolfdog
He's too sweet to be a cold-blooded killer.
Earlier this week, I watched, helpless, as a guinea fowl flew into the play yard.  While the dogs were in it.  And could not figure out how to fly back out.  Needless to say, I am short one guinea fowl now, courtesy of Bruce and Faolan.  The day before, I had just commented on how they are not very smart birds...

I have read stories in chicken groups about what people do to their own dogs if the dog happens to kill a bird.  Some of them are disturbing.  Some will simply shoot the dog, some tie the dead chicken around their neck, some use aversion training to make the dog fearful of chickens, and some rehome the dog.

I feel it is the responsibility of the chicken keeper/dog guardian to protect their birds from their dogs, and vice versa.   Fences are your friend.  Not every dog is rock-solid good around all other animals.  To punish, rehome, or do worse to a dog for being a dog is just wrong.

Fortunately, my dogs are not livestock guardian dogs, nor do I expect them to be.   However, it is my responsibility to protect my chickens and cats from them.

Due to their lack of recall, my dogs are always leashed, or contained by a fence when outside.  This works well for chickens, who cannot get the necessary height while flying to clear the fence.  Guinea fowl are a different story. 

I was upset over the guinea fowl incident, but not angy.  You cannot be mad at a dog for being a dog.

I have written before of the precautions necessary to keep my cats safe.  It is a matter of supervision, and closing appropriate doors when not at home.  Easy, peasy.  

I have yet to figure out how the rabbit got into the dog yard, but was unable to escape.  Again, I was upset, but not angry. 

The most unfortunate thing about these two situations is that I fear Bruce and Faolan now view anything small and fluffy that is not a dog as food. 

I only hope that the other guinea fowl learned a lesson...


  1. People shoot their own dog for killing one of their chickens?? Good god. That poor bunny and the poor Guinea fowl. But you're right - you can't be mad at them for being dogs. (Gorgeous photo!)

  2. Oh dear but that is just nature and things happen. It is only their natural instinct.
    Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Your absolutely right. These things happen. Huskies have a high prey drive as well, and I know all about keeping the kitties safe with 3 huskies and 3 kitties in the house. It is truly a matter of supervision, your absolutely right.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  4. Punishing a dog for being a dog is just wrong. They have no idea what the punishment is for.

  5. I face the issues of chickens ( food) chasing my dog every now and then. Now that I have to keep an eye out for my dog whenever the chickens get their morning/ evening walk in the garden...

  6. The truth. :\ Too many dogs are rehomed (or something worse) for even more minor events, and most of them are just dogs being dogs combined with lack of training and carelessness on the owner's part.
    Thanks for posting about it!

  7. Awe! I'm sorry about the rabbit and the guinea fowl.. Zoe has killed two squirrels before. It's not the funnest part about having dogs but you're right, you can't be mad at them for being who they are. Zoe killed both squirrels at the dog park in front of a crowd of people, some of which totally freaked out. I wasn't mad at her but it was sort of embarrassing. She brought the dead squirrel right to my hand.

    It's interesting with my girls, they totally recognize our cats as family members (they clean their ears and snuggle with them) but any of the neighbor's cats or feral cats are fair game to chase.

  8. I'm sorry about the fowl. :( I agree with how absolutely insane chicken people can be when it comes to dogs, especially their own. I have chickens and dogs, but you wouldn't catch me dead putting those birds before my dogs!
    Nola enjoys killing any birds that fly low. She's especially found of cardinals and sparrows.

  9. I'm sorry this happened. But, your attitude is right on. My dogs had never successfully caught and killed anything... until this summer. Shyla killed a chipmunk, and it made me sooooo sad. But, I kept reminding myself that I'd invited predators (dogs) into my family, and so that will happen sometimes (although we are working hard on "leave it" when she sees rodents to try to avoid a future incident).

    I am shocked to read of how some people handle incidents like yours. Unbelievable. Thanks for being so enlightened.

  10. Oh my gosh! Rabbits. We've had stray rodents running around here before... they never see the light of day. Hell, even cockroaches don't get to see tomorrow once someone intentionally rolls over them.

  11. And guys, thank you for sending kind words our way when Buchi passed away. It meant a lot.

  12. Our dogs are the same. I clean their yard 3-4 times a week and every couple months, I find a critter that got in and never made it out. We rescued the baby bunnies, barely, and I know the screaming - an awful sound. Dogs will be dogs. I just wish the other critters on our property understood that too.

  13. One of our cats raided a chipmunk's nest one time and brought home a baby chipmunk. We felt so bad but never thought of being angry at our cat for doing something that animals do.
    We rarely see any animals in the dog pen, not even squirrels, who could get in where the trees are. But if something did get in, I certainly wouldn't punish my dogs for doing what some dogs do.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets


Thanks for the howls!!