I live in an area with lots of animals. We have feral cats, dogs that run wild, fox, coyotes, raccoons, and I've seen security footage of a cougar.

My partner and I took our 5 y/o for a walk around the neighborhood yesterday. When we got home, there was a decent-sized dog (I'm guessing 50 pounds) hanging out in our yard. My partner spotted it and freaked a bit, refusing to our kid get any closer. There just isn't a good alternate route, so I walked over to tell the dog "Hi."

She's a juvenile with a collar and tags who was excited about being out to run around on her own and just wanted to play.

We played. It was cool. My partner laughed about it and tried to sneak our kid past, but the dog got even more excited, because she loves kids. My kid freaked right out, because he hates dogs. He took off running.

That's the part where I freaked out.

It was all good. The dog ran with him, got distracted, and moved on to other things.

How do you teach a kid (who already knows all the answers) this age about a dog's prey drive?

1 Answer 1


As a dog owner, former dog breeder, and parent, I love this question.

How do you teach a kid ... this age about a dog's prey drive?

At 5, unless you want to teach your child about carnivores, herbivores, and prey (Nature red in tooth and claw, and all that), I wouldn't call it a prey drive. I would just explain that dogs are attracted to and excited by "things that move". Examples that prove the point: tennis balls, frisbees, thrown sticks, flies, bees, and running kids. And because dogs use their mouths like we use our hands (to catch things, carry things, etc.), a running boy might get "caught" by a dog using its mouth (potential for serious injury.) So don't run from a dog; walk away calmly.

If your child is ready for the whole predator/prey thing, then just explain that all creatures must eat; herbivores munch on grass/leaves, and carnivores munch on animals, which may include humans. Nature is red in tooth and claw, and most people learn that at some point, even if they don't like to think of it while eating their chicken dinner.

But if your child hates dogs and is afraid of them, I don't think I'd go into the truth about prey drive. It will only make him fear them more.

I bred Border Collies, some of the least people-aggressive dogs on the planet, but with a very strong prey drive, hence their usefulness in managing livestock. The best dogs in a world full of great dogs.

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