Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rocky Killed an Opossum

Last night Peter couldn't call Rocky back into the house and went out to see that he had killed an opossum. We love opossums. They eat all the rotten fruit on the ground and roadkill. Basically, they are the garbage-eaters of the world, making our communities cleaner. Plus, they're adorable.

Peter was shaking when he came back to the house and threatened to get rid of our dog.

"Is this your anger talking, or do you really want to get rid of him?" I asked.

"I just don't want a dog that does this. He's a real asshole."

I sort of argued the point that as his owners, it's our responsibility to ensure that there are no roving small animals in our yard. But Peter is insistent that Rocky "knows" it's wrong to kill animals. Hmmm. Sometimes he doesn't even "know" where his tail is.

Today I called the vet, who directed me to the Department of Health. Apparently, I need to take the dead opossum to get it tested for rabies and make sure to give the dogs their booster rabies shots. And if the opossum did actually have rabies (which the dept. of health thinks is a really low possibility), then Rocky will have to be quarantined for 6 months.

He got skunked last year and he also killed a crow. The crow, I'm just like, well, what kind of self-respecting crow can't fly away from a dog? But this poor opossum? Rocky sure is a big jerk.

When I told Peter what would happen if the opossum had rabies, he said, "Well, instead of quarantining him, I think we should put Rocky down."

Oh boy, that dog's days in our home may be numbered.


The Irish Halfblood said...

Ok, Rule One for a 'normal' dog owner.

Doggie never has to catch and kill an animal and it is never impossible to train a dog to not to kill.

Dogs will know what they are allowed to do and what not.

I train dogs, I also train dogs who show hunting instincts not to follow them.

Catching balls and mangling a rag dummy is ok..doing this to a fellow animal is not.

You also would not allow a child to harm an animal because..well it is the childs nature, or not?

I trained terriers to not hunt the family rabbits by walking them along the fence, letting them watch the rabbits and stop any huntin behaviour with a harsh pull on the harness and an angry NO!.

When the dog just lies there and watches, that is good, call the dog back and pet it, give him/her a treat and make hunting uninteresting.

Hunting behaviour will be dangerous..if your dog hunts and kills oppossums which are very close to cats in size and screams, than someday yourdog will go out and kill cats, pet bunnies and maybe also someday small dogs when he realises this behaviour is not forbidden.

First and foremost get him a comfortable muzzle and start training. Going to a petting zoo or somwhere similiar where he can see many animals that are apealing to his hunting instinct. If he starts pulling and jumping and fixates the animals get him away, wait until he cools down during a walk and than go back.

Don´t give treats when he fixates animals but stays still, go away, call him back and when he lays down by you and looks up to you, give him a treat.

You need some time for him, to lead him away and than give him a treat when he is away from the animals and is fixated on you and the treats.

When he is showing disinterest in the animals that he can´t reach like lying down, looking away or going to you, than give him a treat.

The Irish Halfblood said...


Don´t scream at him, just a sharp no, walking away with him, cooling down. If you scream too much he will think you are firing him on to bark more and hunt.

Just one sharp no and showing disinterest for his behaviour and when he is silent and completly normal he will recieve treats.

Well,every dog is different so I hope you get help from an expert before he starts killing the cats and other small animals.

If you are ok with killing an animal he as dog will think every animal is ok and because of the triggered instincts he may also be prone to hunting and biting any 'prey' that triggers his instincts like running children.

Many dogs from hunters have that problem that their attack and bite is dangerously near th surface and will go on a trip by themselves and attack anything compatible.

Hunting dogs are also trained on racoons, coyotes and foxes and becaus dogs are very similiar to coyotes hunting dog will also hunt and kill other dogs..just an example to what can happen when you ignore bad behaviour because it is just a mouse/racoon/opossum/crow and not a more important lifeform.

It is just not so simple as to is in the dog to hunt and kill.

If that was true, it is also not natural for a dog to live together with a prey animal, because humans would naturally fall in the prey area for wolves or other predatores.

It is not natural for a wolf to listen to a naked ape or eat food out of a bowl.

Who has ever heard of herding wolves instead of wolves eating sheeps?

You are the alpas of the pack. You both have to train the dog and he as a wolf lower in the chain has to listen to you.

Wolves who do not listen to the alphas will face harsh consequences, this is still the same with dogs..the think like do not hinder a behaviour, they will think it is ok.

So please, buy a muzzle, do not let him outside without leash.

There are very long leashes on which he can do his normal behaviour but you can give a harsh pull when he does something bad.

Also buy a harness, a normal collar can damage the throat when the dog pulls or you need to pull and also because dogs sometimes fall into a river or similiar things where you can have problems to pull them back out on a collar, a harness is much safer.

There are even totally unusable hunting dogs from a hunting dog breed who absolutely have no desire to hunt and kill, so you can not excuse his behaviour with his breed or that dogs do such things. It is all training.

plue said...

We have bought a HUGE flashlight and now we make sure that there are absolutely no animals in the yard when we let out the dogs.