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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

The house dog is descended from the wolf, that’s no big secret. Wolves had to go hunting for food, so that they secure their survival, that is also known. Since their domestication around 15,000 years ago, however, it is no longer necessary for domestic dogs to go hunting because they receive their daily food rations from humans. So why is the hunting instinct more or less pronounced? You can read about this question and whether you can train down unwanted hunting behavior.  

The hunting behaviour

First and foremost, the hunting instinct is a deeply rooted instinct, which varies from breed to breed and from dog to dog. In the beginning humans bred dogs first and foremost as helpers, especially for protection and as hunting companions. This encouraged the hunting instinct over generations. Hunting dogs, for example, what a fitting name, are particularly suitable for hunting work.

A Maltese, for example, is rarely seen at the side of a hunter, which does not mean, however, that this breed cannot also show a pronounced hunting instinct. A Maltese simply lacks the anatomical basics necessary, for example, for tracking and hunting. There are different types of hunting dogs such as sweat dogs, bloodhound, retrieving dogs (retriever), pointing dogs or rummaging dogs. Some breeds are so-called “Sighthunter”, they respond to movement The Beagle reacts for example to smells and is to be found therefore rather with the track work.   

dog harness that fits your dog

How dogs hunt

The dog takes up a track and orients with the help of his sense organs. If he has sighted the prey, he fixes and observed. Some stalk a little closer to the prey, in order to then change to chasing (only the rushing of the prey is self-rewarding for our dogs, differently it is with the wolf, for this only the killing of the prey represents the end of the hunt). Once the prey is caught, it is killed by shaking.

After the effort with the hunt the prey is eaten, because by chewing the stress hormones can be diminished again. Therefore, especially with hunting motivated dogs, ball games and throwing sticks are not productive. This is because only the sequence rush and kill is imitated, the ambush before and the disassembly after that is missing. Thus a stress builds up in the body which can no longer be relieved.

Hunting is a lot of fun for your dog! Beside the messenger substance adrenalin, especially happiness hormones and endorphins are released, which will inspire your dog and make him a seemingly restless pursuer. All around it, your darling suddenly fades out. Since this behavior is self-rewarding (and indeed already the pure pursuit of the prey), it is usually difficult to train against it, because this instinct doesn’t let itself train completely away. This would also not be species-appropriate. If you have a four-legged friend at home who in your opinion shows too much fun hunting, TOBALIE would like to help you with the following tip.

What to do with a hunting dog?

In every dog there can be a small hunter, but if the hunting behavior of your dog becomes a problem, the following points have proven themselves:

  • Some dogs watch the behaviour of other dogs. So if you are just about to give up hunting to your beloved four-legged friend, it is advisable to avoid larger groups of dogs first.   
  • Avoid throwing and distorting wrench games, because these encourage the hunting instinct.  
  • Pay attention to posture. By protruding (lifting a front paw) many dogs show that they have seen something and start right away. So react in time as soon as you notice that your dog is about to hunt.
  • Be aware that the hunting instinct cannot simply be turned off. To a certain extent it should also be allowed to every dog, but only as long as freewheeling animals or fellow humans do not suffer from it. So it is not necessary to stop every slight hint of hunting behaviour.  
  • A sufficiently physically and mentally exhausted dog is less devoted to hunting.  
  • Start the training on the long leash, so that he does not reward himself with success in hunting.
  • Practice the safe callback and learn an alternative behaviour.
  • Certain training methods can help to keep hunting behaviour in check, you can find information about this at Trainer.   


The picture of a hunting dog is common. The hunting behaviour is a lot of fun, because it releases certain happiness hormones in the dog’s organism. It is a natural behaviour, therefore you should not simply forbid it, but offer an alternative occupation if you keep your favourite in a manner appropriate to its species.