Chasing other animals is a natural instinct in dogs. It’s called the predatory or prey drive. Some dogs have a stronger prey drive than others, but all dogs have it. The trick to preventing your dog from chasing cattle is to train him to come when called, even in the face of strong distractions. Understanding his “currency” is key to getting this right.
Teaching the Recall
Leash your dog. Allow enough leash so you can move approximately 10 feet away from him without the leash tightening.
Conceal a reward in your hand. Use whatever your dog loves, as this provides the most valuable reward. This is your dog's "currency." It might be a favored food treat, a preferred and rarely granted toy, or even an old sock.
Move away from your dog. Do this discreetly, at a time when he is not already looking at you.
Call his name in a friendly, confident voice. Encourage him over to you by patting your leg or clucking. It may take a few goes, but eventually he’ll approach. If he ignores you, gently tug the leash to get his attention. If he persistently ignores you, take a break. If you repeat the call too often with no response, he’ll become deaf to it.
Reward him when he approaches and give him lots of verbal praise for approximately 10 seconds, then let him wander off to do his own thing.
Repeat this process five times a day. With sufficient repetition, he’ll learn that approaching when called has a positive outcome and will naturally want to return to receive his reward. Once he’s got it, practice recall without the leash in the house or a secure yard.
Teaching the Sit Command
Hold his reward before his nose, then move it up and over his head. Say “Sit” as you do this.
Release the reward and give verbal praise once his backside hits the floor. As he looks upward to follow the treat, he’ll park his butt on the floor to get a better view of the treat. All you have to do is time the release of the treat with this happening.
Give verbal praise once he's got the treat, wait two minutes and then repeat the process.
Perform the same hand movements as if luring him with a treat, but don't use the treat. Practice with just the verbal command and hand movements, no lure until he gets into the habit of sitting on command. You can use the sit command as a distraction before recalling your dog.
Leash your dog and take him to an area where there are cattle or other distractions such as dogs.
Perform the recall. If he’s distracted by the cattle and tries to chase, put him in the sit. If he ignores you, use the leash to restrain and distract him. It may take some time, but he’ll eventually learn to sit and return even in the presence of cattle to chase. Repeated exposure to the cattle will desensitize his chasing instinct.
Repeat the exercise, each time lengthening the leash so he has more freedom to roam. Always start with the recall command, reverting to sit and recall if he ignores you and use the leash as a fail safe to stop him getting to the cattle.
Items You Will Need
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.