My 2019 Goals

Zebby Continue to increase his confidence in classes Zebby has been getting better and better in our obedience classes, but he still struggles at times, so it is something I want to keep working at. I’d love for him to … Continue reading

How to get a fast agility dog

I was stood at an agility show a few months ago watching a friend do an amazing jumping round with their young dog. The ladies mum then also did an equally fantastic round, making a small mistake, but the dog … Continue reading

Hunt Chase

Hunt chase may be a term you have heard wafted around, but what does it actually mean and what does it look like?

Hunt chase is where a dog performs the act of “hunting” and “chasing” wildlife, most commonly birds, squirrels and rabbits.

Hunt and chase don’t always happen together, some dogs will chase a rabbit if it leaps out in front of them but they don’t actively go hunting for it by sniffing and searching, however if a dog is hunting they often then chase once they find something.

Hunt chase varies in all dogs and you can measure how extreme their hunt chase is by asking yourself a few simple questions;

  • When they are hunting will they respond to recall?
  • How far away from you do they go while hunting?
  • How close does the animal need to be to your dog for your dog to chase it?
  • Will your dog recall away from chase?
  • How far will your dog run to chase / how soon do they give up chasing?

As my main experience of hunt chase is from Zebby I’ll use him as an example.

Zebby has varying levels of hunt chase depending on what environment we are in, how much interaction we are doing and how close and strong the scent is.

For example if we walk into a farm field that has a large number of pheasants in it he will not recall from hunting and will go a couple of fields away from me (becomes a tiny dot in the distance).

However a walk somewhere else with Zebby may involve some sniffing but consistent responds to recalls every time, and if a rabbit ran out ahead of him he may chase for a few seconds and then turn around and come back, so it all depends on the environment and the state of the mind of the dog at that moment of time.

[If he had been off-lead at that moment then I can guarantee I would have not seen him for about 10 minutes or more!]

How to prevent it

Find the right trainer

All dogs have predatory instincts and therefore they all have the potential to hunt chase.

Consider the main prey instincts that any dog may have… hunting, stalking, chasing, grabbing and catching, biting, shaking, plucking, tearing and carrying.

Therefore depending on the breed and their intended purposes they will have different strengths, for example terriers are good at hunting, catching and killing, whereas collies are wired to stalk and chase and lurchers tend to be all chase and kill without the hunt.

The one and most importance piece of advice I will give to you is go and find a qualified trainer who is experienced with hunt chase in you breed of dog.

In my opinion a trainer who has only ever owned collies and prefers collies is not going to be able to help you with your hunting spaniel as much as a trainer who owns and works spaniels on a shoot.

Of course above all the importance is to find a trainer who uses positive methods. 


Self control

Self control is an important skill for all dogs to gain for every day life, but especially for dogs with strong hunt chase.

A dog who is able to hold back and not act on it’s first impulse will be a better mannered, more enjoyable dog to live with.

Think about a dog who doesn’t charge through doorways, doesn’t jump up at the table to steal food, relaxes while you are at the pub having a meal, doesn’t chase the cat and stays close on a walk without running off to every dog it sees. That is a dog with good self control.

There are a huge range of training exercises that work on self control and I’d suggest you find a suitable dog training class or workshop near you that covers these.

Susan Garrett’s “It’s Yer Choice” game is a good place to start, plus Kiko Pup’s stay training method.

Also Jane Arden runs workshops such as Stop, Come, Click which covers self control and predatory chase.

Give your dog an appropriate outlet

I think it’s very important that we recognise what is natural for our dogs and then give them an opportunity to express these behaviours.

Spaniels have been bred especially for their strong sense of smell and their desire to hunt, so to not allow them to do any searching or sniffing at all is practically cruel.

Therefore a very easy and fun alternative behaviour for a spaniel is scentwork.

Scentwork training and competition is becoming increasing more popular and you should be able to find a class or workshop near you.

For anyone in Cheshire or Staffordshire I’d suggest you check out Tracy at Awesome Paws Dog Training and Barry at Happy Hounds.

You may also find that getting your dog in to a toy such as a tennis ball gives them an alternative activity to do during a walk instead of hunting.

Personally I don’t like a dog to be too over-obsessed with a toy to the point that nothing else exists to them except that ball, so balance is key.

Start young

Puppies tend to stay close on their first few walks as they are still very dependant on us. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to reward every time your puppy looks at you and comes back to you while off-lead.

Introduce play and retrieves early, as well as fun self control training.

What to do once you’ve got it

Prevent it from being practised

If you dog is frequently ignoring you to go running off and hunting then the first step is to prevent this.

Use a long line to give them some level of freedom but which stops them from ranging too far.

Increasing their mental stimulation in the house will make up for their lack of physical exercises and help to keep their arousal down.

Build up the foundations

While preventing the dog from disappearing you then need to be working on your recall foundations;

~ Consider introducing a new recall command, such as a whistle, and build a strong emotional response to that command by blowing it before feeding the dog their meal every day.

~ Don’t go for a walk but instead go for a training session. Stick to one part of the field and change direction every time your dog runs ahead of you, praising and rewarding them when they come running back towards you then quickly changing direction again.

~Throw treats for your dog to chase or hide them in the grass and encourage them to find it.

~ As mentioned above find an appropriate, alternative behaviour for your dog to do, such as playing with a ball or searching for a treat under your direction.

~ Practise in all different environments, working to ensure your dogs recall response is the same no matter what distractions. Start somewhere easy with a low level of distractions such as a large playing field.

Give yourself time

Behaviours don’t change over night and habits are hard to kill. Plus consider the time of year. I know my recall will always be more challenging when the young pheasants have been released from their pens around September.

Keep up with your training, keep it light and fun and try to create positive sessions.

The main thing is to seek help and understand your dogs desires and how you can accommodate their instincts in an appropriate way.

Happy training.



10k Goal Smashed!

10km has always been the next goal for me. Ever since the Cannock Chase 10k in August I’ve been trying to improve my 5k pace and work towards reaching 10km non-stop running. I’ve started introducing a long run on a … Continue reading

Tough Woofer

A muddy obstacle course for dogs and their owners, what a great idea! I was initially quite apprehensive about how Zebby would cope with all the other dogs, and he was very overwhelmed when we first arrived, but he soon … Continue reading

Decathalon haul

Annoyingly there are no Decathalon stores near to me, so when we needed to take a trip to Warrington today I insisted we make an hour (at least!) to pop in to Decathalon while we would be nearby. Decathalon running … Continue reading

Never forget the importance of foundations

This morning I went to a young dog / puppies flatwork agility session with Jen Lewis. I was a little apprehensive as I haven’t taken Zebby to a class for a few months so I wasn’t sure how he was … Continue reading

My dog likes sniffing people’s crotches

I wanted to write this blog post today to share with everyone that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have embarrassing moments. We all have cock ups. Okay so that sounds pretty deep right? And could … Continue reading

I did it! Cannock Chase 10k

Back in March when I was managing about 20 minutes of running, covering 3.5km in total, I saw the press release about Border Collie GB having to relocate due to HS2 running right through their property, and I knew I … Continue reading

I’m ready!

Well I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’ve got my t-shirt & new running shorts (don’t worry I’m not running in wellies). My running has been progressing really well and I’ve done leg strength work to help with the … Continue reading


Saturday! Parkrun day! Finally I had chance to go back to my home parkrun, Cannock Chase. Next week is the Cannock Chase 10k so it was a great chance to test myself around the area. I felt so sluggish this … Continue reading

I finally did it!

I finally ran the whole 5k without stopping! Yesterdays plan was 50 minutes running, but now that my Saturday’s are free again I really fancied doing a parkrun, so I decided to combine the two. I went to The Wammy … Continue reading

My early morning routine

I never used to be a morning person. I would sleep in until as late as possible and then scoff down some breakfast and rush to work. When I moved to the farm with Ash I would often sleep through … Continue reading

My best budget running clothes

I’ve only been running for 5 months but I’ve certainly done a fair bit of trial and error when it comes to running clothes and I’ve now got a handful of go to items that I always reach for. I’m … Continue reading

We have chickens

I can’t believe I’ve not written about the chickens yet! Our lovely 4 ladies have been here for 2 months now and have settled in well. Ash and I have wanted chickens since we moved in and last summer we … Continue reading

Chasing the pacer

As I had a Saturday morning free for once I decided I would go to Parkrun this weekend. My local one at Cannock Chase wasn’t running due to a canicross competition being there so I decided to go and check … Continue reading

Everything you need to know about Cocker Spaniels

The Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular breeds of dog in the UK, especially since the photos appeared of Prince William and Kate’s gorgeous working cocker Lupo. It was no impulse buy that resulted in Zebby joining our … Continue reading

Donna Louise 5k Fun Run

I entered the Donna Louise 5k fun run at Trentham Gardens as something to aim for and keep me on track. I was going through a bit of a “race excitement” moment and was looking for local 5k’s to enter … Continue reading