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We saw 3 bunnies on our morning poo/pee walk. If Basil sees one within ~10 feet, then she is very curious to see where it goes. I've been giving her leash a slight tug with soft-firm strength to redirect her away from anything bunny related. Basil has a 7/10 prey drive too so we're always on our toes. Plus, she is turning 1 in a week, so every season is a new and exciting surprise.

I'm not ever mad that she's interested bunnies. Quite frankly, my eyes polish over with glee at the sight of big floppy ears bunny ears. They are cute!

I think "look at that" training are my next steps, but I want to check in because ya'll are so friggin smart.

Also, I lost my clicker. (Sigh).

What should I be doing to help Basil be less reactive to bunnies on walks?

Picture of said bunny enthusiasts
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7:45am ready to go back to bed

Rough life. LOL
 

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LAT is a good place to start. Poodles need a ton of impulse control. Bunnies (and other small creatures) within 10 ft are the Olympics of Restraint, so it will take a while to get there. There are a lot of supportive behaviours you can build as well - Leave It, Settle/Lay on a Mat, Relaxation Protocol, among others. All of these contribute to a less excitable and reactive poodle.
 

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With Happy it's squirrels. She knows where they are and is on the hunt. She doesn't pull excessively and usually moves on with a tug or a strong "let's go." My concern is if she were ever to get away, she could find herself in a dangerous situation quickly.
 

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We have many, many bunnies and squirrels in our neighborhood along with other interesting creatures. We passed a mallard duck pair in a neighbor’s yard yesterday.
For us it’s all about not letting Bobby get too interested. We do absolutely no stopping and admiring and the magic words are a low key but matter of fact, Leave It.” I’m very aware of the wildlife around us so I’m quite proactive and don’t let Bobby stare ( he can look quickly) or move toward the “prey.” That’s the key, “Leave It,” right before the prey drive starts kicking in and just keep moving forward calmly and matter of factly. I sometimes calmly reign in the leash when needed as we use a 10 foot leash on our walk. I do that if he starts showing too much interest.
This approach works very well for us.
 

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What a pretty girl! :love:
No expert, but I just introduced Maisie (14 week old spoo) to my chickens yesterday. On lead, naturally.
We walked out to where they were, and I let her have a good look at them and just walked around near them for a little while. Then once they weren't such a novelty, I started asking her to sit for a piece of freeze-dried liver. Apparently liver in the hand is worth more than chickens in the bushes.;)
 

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Tension on the leash seems to make Peggy even more excited, and will turn something mildly interesting into tantalizingly forbidden fruit.

So I might try saying “Look at that!” or whatever you want to say, and then rewarding with something super reinforcing when Basil looks back at you. (That is, if she will look back at you. If she’s already in the zone, it gets trickier, for sure.)

We call all animals “puppies” when we’re talking to Peggy, so for us it would be something like, “Aw, look at the puppy!” and then she gets an extra yummy treat or play for tearing her eyes off whatever it is and tuning back in to us. We often use this method with cows. Luckily, we’ve not had to deal with bunnies or squirrels yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.

Yesterday she was on a hike with my husband and they inadvertently flushed a bird. Peggy was off like a shot, and all my husband did was say her name and she turned around so fast, my husband said she sent up a huge cloud of dust. She got half a stick of string cheese for that. :) I think the key is to practise practise practise, and consistently reinforce desired behaviour, so Basil learns that it’s actually better to turn away from thrilling things. (Once she’s gotten a good look, of course. Dogs aren’t robots. It’s okay to let them be curious and do doggy things. But ultimately you want her to zero back in on you.)
 

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Asta is always up for bunnies - on our land they are a common sight. Hope that some training will help curb Asta's bunny fixation.
 

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With Normie, it's robins. (He's not sure what bunnies are.).

I get his attention, then put a treat in front of his nose and make him earn it. In theory, smelling the treat provides a bit of distraction. Then following a routine request provides a bit more.

At that point, I hope the darn bird has hopped away.
 

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Peggy is on to something. Putting tension on the leash is how drive is built in guard dog training. Restrained from getting the bad guy, restrain, restrain, release! The dog springs forward with a bust of intensity and excitement. Holding Noelle back from the dumbbell in training also gets her wild with excitement. So be aware of this.

Any bunny within 10 feet is going to trigger predatory behavior. Calling your dog off a hunt is an advanced obedience skill. This week, baby bunnies came out of their burrow in our back yard. Francis the Boston killed one in two seconds. I was able to keep Noelle from killing any, and Francis from killing another, through years of recall training. I was proud of them for listening to my call. But, the drive to kill rabbits is normal dog behavior. Dogs can learn impulse control, but not while bunnies are hopping within biting distance. That’s more unfair than taking a child to Disnyland and insisting they work on multiplying fractions and ignore the rides. A child would throw a tantrum, and rightly so. Insisting your dog ignore bunnies is going to result in a tantrum. That is not the time or place to work on impulse control. Practice impulse control far away from hopping temptation.

If you want to use bunnies as a distraction while training impulse control, make sure you are far enough away that the dog is calm enough to pay attention. If you are on a walk, and a bunny appears and your dog goes nuts, that’s not a training moment. That is a management momet. Management means making a u-turn and leaving the situation. Your dog’s brain isn’t in a thinking place. It’s in a predatory space. Speak calmly to your dog about how tempting bunnies are. Make note of the location and time of day.

Next day, same area, same time, look for bunnies without your dog. Observe their activities so you can find them again. Now train your dog to look at bunnies from across the street, or even farther away. Then you can work on LAT.
 

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Peggy is on to something. Putting tension on the leash is how drive is built in guard dog training. Restrained from getting the bad guy, restrain, restrain, release! The dog springs forward with a bust of intensity and excitement. Holding Noelle back from the dumbbell in training also gets her wild with excitement. So be aware of this.

Any bunny within 10 feet is going to trigger predatory behavior. Calling your dog off a hunt is an advanced obedience skill. This week, baby bunnies came out of their burrow in our back yard. Francis the Boston killed one in two seconds. I was able to keep Noelle from killing any, and Francis from killing another, through years of recall training. I was proud of them for listening to my call. But, the drive to kill rabbits is normal dog behavior. Dogs can learn impulse control, but not while bunnies are hopping within biting distance. That’s more unfair than taking a child to Disnyland and insisting they work on multiplying fractions and ignore the rides. A child would throw a tantrum, and rightly so. Insisting your dog ignore bunnies is going to result in a tantrum. That is not the time or place to work on impulse control. Practice impulse control far away from hopping temptation.

If you want to use bunnies as a distraction while training impulse control, make sure you are far enough away that the dog is calm enough to pay attention. If you are on a walk, and a bunny appears and your dog goes nuts, that’s not a training moment. That is a management momet. Management means making a u-turn and leaving the situation. Your dog’s brain isn’t in a thinking place. It’s in a predatory space. Speak calmly to your dog about how tempting bunnies are. Make note of the location and time of day.

Next day, same area, same time, look for bunnies without your dog. Observe their activities so you can find them again. Now train your dog to look at bunnies from across the street, or even farther away. Then you can work on LAT.
I’m in total agreement about not letting the leash get tight. That’s essentially what I’m preventing when we do our preemptive “Leave It,” approach. Periodically a critter will all of a sudden “appear” in our space 😉 and in those instances I will have Bobby sit and refocus on me and until the critter is far enough away or up a tree. The sitting is calming to Bobby. He still gets to look for a bit but keeping him calm with a loose leash ensures the walk will remain calm. I also will let him have a good sniff, after the critter takes off, before we get on our way. 😉
 

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Click and spottytoes are right. There needs to be nothing in your body language to indicate that there is any reason to amp up. Leave it and working at distance under threshold will result in calm behavior from the dog. I always am working on keeping poodles calm around bunnies and chickens in the back yard. Lily just views them as part of the landscape and although Javelin has lots of interest he also has an awesome recall and will come to me even if he wants to chace one of those fluffy things.
 
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