Blood Lust in Dogs

My 18 month old Parson Russell Terrier loves to chase small furry animals. Where we live there are lots of trees and lots of squirrels and chipmunks. They daily tease and torment him, and he is fast enough to chase them up a tree, but that’s usually where it ends… except for this morning.

He was out chasing chipmunks and somehow managed to corner one. I was watching from a distance, and before I could intervene he had somehow managed to kill it. It was lifeless and bloody on the lawn. I got the chipmunk away from him and buried it, but now that the dog has successfully killed a chipmunk he is even more obsessed than usual in finding and chasing them.

Since he is a terrier and was bred to chase furry animals I don’t think I can train it out of him. Should I be concerned that he actually killed the chipmunk? Prior to today I just thought of it as a game.

As long as his rabies vaccine is up to date, and you have him de-parasited regularly, there’s not much to worry about. You might think it’s a game; I guarantee your terrier sees it as a mission and has from day one. What is it you think you should worry about? If he takes on a target that proves too big and gets some bites in before he kills it, you need to clip the fur around the wounds and clean them. If they’re punctures he may need antibiotics. That’s about all I can think of.

IMO, if you wanted this dog to not chase critters, you should have started almost before his eyes were open and never stopped until you had as much control of him as a really good service dog.

Now, it will almost be impossible without a good professional trainer and even then a relapse is likely without very regular work.

I agree with SDT to just enjoy it as much as he does.

The prey drive in terriers is incredible. It’s no game; they are bred to chase and kill – and Parsons a is a type of Jack Russel, right? JRT are the most maniacal in their dedication to murdering vermin.

Many JRTs are ambitious in their choice of prey and can get seriously injured that way, which is a concern to many owners. But JRTs live to kill small running critters, if you don’t want that, keep it on a leash every minute of it’s life. Wandering freely, it will chase, and it will kill. Gusnspot is absolutely correct. If you didn’t want this behavior, a rigorous training program should have started in puppyhood.

I never owned a Jack Russell but a friend of mine did. He said that they have been known to go into a groundhog hole, corner the animal and stay there until they have to be dug out. Some people put radio transmitters on their collars so they know where to dig. His chased a critter under an air conditioner and sat there for something like five or six hours without moving waiting for the prey to come out.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I have had a few different dogs before, but never a terrier, and never one that chased critters like this dog does. He is a great watch dog and will bark when anything strange comes onto our property, including black bears, but apparently his other job is to rid the neighborhood of small furry animals.

He is very good with people and other dogs, but squirrels and chipmunks beware. I won’t worry about his blood lust since it comes with the territory. I take him out for long hikes every day and play fetch with him using tennis balls for an hour or two each day.

We used to have Colombian ground squirrels but they have since moved off to safer areas.

He can be relentless, and once he trees a squirrel will sit under it for hours waiting for the squirrel to come down. Strangely he doesn’t pay much attention to the wild rabbits. Perhaps they are just too big and too fast for him to deal with.

Now there’s a new sheriff in town, the squirrels and chipmunks will have to smarten up their game a little. That’s a good thing. Everybody gets some exercise and they will all be better prepared when a fox comes round.

Our dog is perhaps the slowest living dog on earth but even he caught a squirrel, once. So it can happen with any dog.

Compare this to the toy poodle we had when I was a teen.

She cornered a rabbit. Trapped it when it tried to squeeze through fencing and got caught at the hips.

It was obvious she had absolutely no idea what to do next. She sniffed around and looked back at us with a puzzled look that clearly said “What now?”

The rabbit escaped when it managed to get one good kick in that bopped the dog in the nose and gave the rabbit enough leverage to squeeze through.

Talk about a dog with NO prey instinct.

Blackjack’s doctor recommended worming 3 times a year because he was catching and eating his own food. He’s not doing that much anymore, his legs aren’t in great shape. He still loves tearing apart cloth dog toys. Only the bad toys though, he takes very good care of the good ones.

by not letting the dog eat the animal you are turning it into a sadistic killing machine. for the dog’s psychological well being it should eat the kill.

when dogs tear apart stuffed animals they go for the head first.

I see no reason to care about a dead chipmunk. If your dog attacks a person that’s another thing.

Ohhh, is that the distinction? Zef must be a bit more discerning than Blackjack, as she’s never met a good stuffed animal…

Specifically answering this question:

No, don’t be concerned. He’s a predatory animal even if domesticated. He’s no more bloodthirsty than you are, you likely devour gruesomely butchered animal parts on a routine basis. The only difference is he decided to cut out the middleman. He will not suddenly become more violent and you will not wake up one morning to find his standing over you with a knife in his mouth.

We have 3 Dachshunds, and let me tell ya, they are Stone Killers! Don’t be fooled by their size and looks, they were bred to hunt badgers. They are hell on squirrels, birds, lizards and rabbits if they can get ahold of them. The sweetest, gentlest little doggies, unless you aren’t a human. Then they are vicious killers.

The oldest never went after chickens. Then we got a second, and she whacked one or two. Now we have The Puppy, and she has led the whole pack down The Unrighteous Path of Poultry Destruction.

Having to take drastic measures lately to keep 'em separated. But, Yeah, its in 'em, at its gotta come out!

Could be worse. My Akita considered it his mission to keep skunks off our property. Yes, by killing them. Skunks are not smart. There were always more… I am an expert at de-skunk ing, should you ever require assistance. :wink:

I grew up with a male dachshund. One day he found, and adopted, a desert tortoise. (It belonged to a neighbor kid, but escaped, and wandered into our shrubbery.)

Yes they are hunters and killers, I own 7 of them. When I am walking one or two of them I have control. As a pack they are unstoppable. We have no small critters anymore and the lizards are getting scarce.

Not only killers, but the most inherently comedic dogs. If yours was anything like ours, he was using the turtle to get off on. :smiley:

The dog logic is too complicated for me to understand. One thing is clear, ducks and other bird toys are always bad, and toys that my son gives him of the non-avian variety are always good. The new elephant is tough to figure out, apparently the bottom half of the elephant was very bad, while the top half is still good. Also, coincidentally, chipmunks are very very bad.

Terriers are pretty much hardwired to chase and kill small critters, even more so if they are deliberately bred from hunting/working lines (as opposed to the random-bred terrier-y looking mutts in a shelter, which may or may not be instinctive hunters). Actually, most dogs will chase small quick-moving things and occasionally large quick moving things, what differs is how long their interest lasts (nanoseconds to hours) and what they do with it if they catch it.

With a Parson Russell, I wouldn’t worry that a chipmunk kill will lead to attacking random humans, but if you have cats or there are cats in the neighborhood, that I would worry about. Chickens too.

I would start serious recall and “leave it” training like yesterday, and practice it often. And if you have any doubt that there mights be tempting critters around (wild or otherwise) you’d be wise to keep the dog on a leash.