How do you stop a dog from chasing or barking at squirrels?

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

How do you stop a dog from chasing or barking at squirrels?

Have you ever wondered why dogs chase squirrels? Or even why do dogs hate squirrels? How do you stop a dog from chasing or barking at squirrels? Good management and positive dog training. I'm not going to say it will be easy, particularly if your dog is chasing squirrels in your yard or at your window, but there is hope. Here are some positive dog training tips to get you started.
Dogs and Squirrels

Oh, boy. I think for a lot of dogs, squirrels are their nemesis. Squirrels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some squirrels are actually larger than some tiny breed dogs! I remember when my golden retriever Theo and I moved from North Carolina to Ohio, his focus on squirrels changed. He went from not even noticing they existed, to a bit of excitement and curiosity. You see, the squirrels in North Carolina were much smaller than our Ohio squirrels. And the Ohio squirrels seemed to be teasing Theo on our walks, running up and down the trees, low to the ground, chattering away.

Have you ever wondered why dogs chase squirrels? Or even why do dogs hate squirrels? I think for most dogs, it starts with a general curiosity, like Theo. But, if a dog has free access to a yard to chase the squirrels or free access to windows while you are gone to bark at squirrels and to get carried away, a dog may develop an unhealthy obsession with squirrels.

How do you stop a dog from chasing or barking at squirrels?

Good management and positive dog training. I’m not going to say it will be easy, particularly if your dog is chasing squirrels in your yard or at your window, but there is hope. Here are some positive dog training tips to get you started.

Management– This is the most important step, but the step people always want to skip. Good management means micromanaging your dog’s environment to prevent the behavior from happening. This first step in positive dog training allows you to teach your dog what to do instead. Check out my article and video on good dog management.

Yard– If your dog is chasing squirrels in your yard, grab some healthy dog treats and go outside with your dog. Play little dog games to keep your dog focused on you and not squirrel-obsessed. Occasionally call him to you and reward him heavily with his dog treats and his favorite dog game. Too hard? Then go outside with him on a long 50′ dog leash. This will allow you the security to adjust the length to ensure he is close enough to you and far enough away from the squirrels to be right and earn a reward. Good management means he is not in the yard without you actively working on his behavior.

Windows– When your dog is casually looking out the window (not at a squirrel) happily call him to you and reward him for his good behavior. Make this reward very powerful, because this will be the foundation of coming when called when a squirrel is outside. Randomly do this throughout the day for a few days. As you see him responding quicker and happier, it’s time to increase the challenge. Now, when he’s looking out the window and something has piqued his interest a little (not too interesting), call him to you and reward him like crazy when he comes. Wow! He’s on his way. Build on the behavior and gradually increase distractions as you are practicing. Check out my article on dogs barking out windows. Good management means he does not have access to squirrel watching when you are not home or around to supervise and teach him how you would like him to respond around squirrels.

Oops– Did you miss it? Your dog went crazy barking and running around? Don’t worry. Just calmly go collect your dog and bring him away from the distraction. Distance is your friend. Clip his leash on if you need to. Once he’s settled down a bit, try to get your dog to focus on you. Reward him for his focus. There you go. Don’t fret too much about it—it will happen. You and your dog are learning a new way to respond, and this takes time and practice from both of you. But your patience and training will pay off.

What if you don’t have the time or patience to train your dog? Sorry, there aren’t any magic wands to change or “fix” a dog’s behavior. He is just being a dog and doing what dogs do. If you want him to not respond in a doggie way, you’ll need to put in the work. It and HE is worth it. Still not ready? Did you know they actually train and sell squirrel dogs? Just kidding. Well, sort of. 😉


Do you have a squirrel dog on your hands? Tell me in the comments.

Have you ever wondered why dogs chase squirrels? Or even why do dogs hate squirrels? How do you stop a dog from chasing or barking at squirrels? Good management and positive dog training. I'm not going to say it will be easy, particularly if your dog is chasing squirrels in your yard or at your window, but there is hope. Here are some positive dog training tips to get you started.
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