3 Dog Hunting Behaviors

It’s almost comical to think about today’s fluffy couch potato dogs actually coming from natural hunters. That’s exactly what today’s dogs are, though.

Dog hunting behaviors evolved to allow dogs to hunt for their prey, and thus survive. While most dogs today do not have to hunt for food, they still exhibit a number of dog hunting behaviors. Today, we go over some of these hunting behaviors that you might not even realize your dog doing.

Dog Hunting Behaviors

While dogs today are likely fine munching on some kibble, they can still exhibit dog hunting behavior. This is because hunting behavior has nothing to do with hunger.

Your dog is likely not starving, but the behavior of how to hunt is in their DNA. Hunting behavior is the result of certain stimuli. Your dog is used to using their sight, hearing, and smell to hunt prey. Once they are given these stimuli, they’ll be ready.

Now, certain stimuli can simply be the rustling of leaves or a squirrel outside the window. Whatever the stimuli are, it will certainly put your dog at the ready. This can be a bother if your dog isn’t really a hunting dog. Let’s take a look at the top three dog hunting behaviors and what you can do about reducing this behavior.

3 Dog Hunting Behaviors


Anyone who had ever owned a dog is probably familiar with this behavior. Digging is very common. There are many reasons why a dog might dig. A dog may have dug a den for their new family, or they may dig for rodents to catch. Of course, cartoons have taught us that dogs will dig to stash a bone, or food, away for later. For these reasons, digging was a very important survival skill. Today it’s not as necessary, but some dogs may even dig for other reasons.

Some dogs may be looking for environmental feedback. If your dog likes to dig, it might be worthwhile investigating the reason why they like to.


Chasing is the basis of a game of catch. You throw a ball or familiar toy; your dog brings it back and the cycle continues. The game works really well when your dog is chasing a tennis ball but not so much if they start chasing cars or small animals.

Certain breeds have a chase instinct that can’t be broken. While it’s possible to keep them in your yard or on the leash, it can still present problems. A dog’s chase instinct can get it in trouble, and at worst hurt someone else or themselves.


Some breeds are natural rodent hunters. Your dog might show up at your back door with their fresh kill right at your feet imploring you “enjoy!” Your dog is proud to show you what they were able to do. Or it might be the case that they are trying to bond with you. You present your dog with ready bowls of food all the time. One good turn deserves another, right?

In the end, you might not like this behavior, but at least it comes from a place of love.

How to Handle Hunting Behavior

If the behaviors we laid out are not something you look forward to, there are things you can do about them. You can:

  • Not encourage hunting behavior – If you have a puppy, be sure to not encourage hunting behavior. Do not tell your pup to chase after squirrels in the back yard or bark at passersby. Your dog will not be able to make the distinction between what is safe space and what can be potentially a hazard.
  • Teach your dog to come when called – This is probably one of the very best tips for any dog owner. From an early age, try to teach your dog to come to you when you call them. This is a useful command for all sorts of situations and is not only useful when trying to break hunting behavior.
  • Avoid times that may trigger hunting behavior – If your dog exhibits chasing behavior, try to choose times where they might be less tempted to take them out. Prey animals are going to be most active at dawn and dusk. If possible, try to not walk your dog at these times.

Of course, every dog is a bit different and what works for one might not work for another. What’s important to remember is that dogs respond much better to positive reinforcement rather than punishment. If your dog is exhibiting a behavior you do not like, try to punish them for it. It’s a much better policy to reward them when you catch them doing behaviors you like.

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