Beware Predatory Drift

Quick Tip Tuesday

predatory aggression by large dogs against small dogsHave you heard of predatory drift?

I didn’t until a short time ago and I think it’s a pretty important concept that all dog owners should be aware of.

First of all there is some debate as to whether “predatory drift” is really a thing and not just typical dog predatory aggression.  Whether or not the behaviour is accurately labelled, I think dog owners need to keep this behaviour in mind the next time they see 2 dogs playing of a big weight/size difference.

Predatory drift or predatory aggression happens when a large dog who is friendly and playing with a small dog suddenly perceives the small dog as a prey animal.  The dog’s brain will one moment be in play mode then instantly switch to it’s ancient predatory instincts to hunt and kill.  It can be triggered out of the blue by a dog who is much smaller and looks or acts like prey. The larger dog may grab and shake the small dog like they would a toy. This predatory drift situation can occur even in a dog who has never before been aggressive.

Sounds pretty scary especially since it happens without warning.

You can avoid this predatory aggression/drift situation from happening by not allowing large dogs to play with much smaller sized dogs.  Dog Day-Care Centres should avoid mixing large and small dog breeds together. Off-leash “dog parks” don’t usually separate dogs by size, so either avoid them or only use them if the dogs present are of a similar size to yours.

Do you let your doberman play with small dogs? Have you heard of “predatory drift”?

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