SQUIRRELS! Teaching Your Dog To Ignore Them

That time of year when squirrels are running rampant and if you’re dog is like mine… you had better get a good hold on that leash. #DDG Is going to show you a way to help calm your dog and help them to ignore squirrels while out on a walk.

Mostly everyone loves squirrels, mostly. A good friend of mine stated that “Squirrels are rats in fancier costumes”; and while this may be true to some, our dogs couldn’t care less what costume they were wearing. Squirrels and rabbits (another article on this later) are simply good for running after, barking at and hopefully catching. My dog has yet to catch a squirrel, but I’m pretty sure if she did wouldn’t know what to do with it.

So you’re out for a pleasant dog walk, and squirrels are everywhere. Your dog is tearing out your rotator cuff trying to get at the squirrel who inadvertently crossed paths, and now barking, and whining and pulling.. so what to do?

Keeping Your Dog Calm is the Key to Peace with The Squirrel Population

One of the most effective methods of training for any dog, is to be able to keep them calm and focused on you. Having a critter run in front of you on your walk would usually set off any dog. But not yours.. not if they’re properly focused. A little positive micro-management will go a long way in the beginning of their training.

Whether your dog is enthralled with squirrels in the yard or on the street, getting them to keep calm and not bothered by the furry little beasts will help when you’re out and about. When your dog is in the yard, and they’re going berserk trying to down a squirrel, call out to them and when they respond, give them a simple dog treat acknowledging that responding to you is good behavior.

What you should try is yard training by placing your dog on their leash and allowing them to get in proximity of a squirrel (or rabbit). Pulling their leash gently back to you while talking to them will keep them somewhat calm (although not at first), them present them with a treat once they have quieted down.

If you have that dog that goes berserk staring out the window witnessing frolicking squirrels and rabbits. This is the kind of dog that ruins windowsills and can hurts the eardrums of anyone within 100ft. Again, you need to take control and calm the dog down by simply calling to them and if that doesn’t work (usually doesn’t at first) walk up to them and tell them “down” (one of the simpler training commands) and petting them. Getting their attention away from the window is key at this point. It may take you playing games with them, offering a super small treat or even moving them to another part of the house where you’ll be.

You’ll want to keep in contact with your pet all while squirrels are running rampant, taunting and teasing your dog on the other side of the glass. This may take a few weeks depending on how well you can focus on your dog and keep them calm. As well, how well they’re trained in simpler commands like “down”, “sit” etc.

Remember, it’s up to you to get in the training when possible, and every walk is a great training session. If you aren’t able to get your dog walked throughout the week, no worries, Dog Day Getaway has a walking service on campus that will help keep your dog exercised. Lastly, your dog will often make a break for it if you aren’t paying attention to what is about to happen (that squirrel running across a fence or power line), so be observant and continue to talk to your dog and heap praise on them.. and of course, a little snack here and there.

We hope this helps with the squirrel problem every dog owner is about to encounter this fall, and if it helps, please leave a comment below anything you’ve tried and what works for your dog!