Do Poodles Have a High Prey Drive? What Will They Chase?

Considering a Poodle but worried they will run here, there, and everywhere after anything that dares to move? Concerned you’ll never be able to let your gorgeous Poodle off the leash to have fun outdoor adventures? Fed up with Poodles getting a bad reputation for having high prey drives? Perhaps you are a Doodle owner and worried they’ll inherit the desire to chase things. Well, we are your one-stop-shop for all your queries when it comes to answering such questions.

Poodles do have a relatively high prey drive, but this can be managed through training. There are different behaviors associated with the prey drive which include herding, chasing, hunting, killing, and stalking. Poodles enjoy chasing squirrels, rats, mice, birds, cats, and rabbits.

Let’s get the low down on Poodles and their Prey Drive as we explore their behaviors and what makes them chase things. We also look at the implications this may have on your desire to have other pets.

What Is Prey Drive and How Does It Affect Dogs?

Prey drive refers to an animal’s inbuilt instinct to chase. When you think about the dog ancestor – the wolf – it was their main survival tactic. Of course, pet dogs don’t need to chase prey to survive so it’s regarded as a fun pastime for the most part. The desire to chase that furry squirrel or the hot-footed rabbit can be too much of a temptation for them.

Domesticated dogs have far evolved from wolves and the wild dogs’ behavioral patterns. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t still hold the strong urge to chase things around or hunt out animals. Even a dog chasing a ball or frisbee at the park is somewhat down to prey drive.

There are different elements to the prey drive and the behaviors this instills, and it can also vary throughout the different dog breeds. Some dogs have the instincts to herd, for example, while some have the drive to hunt and kill. It’s safe to say that almost all dog breeds have some prey drive instincts, which can mostly be witnessed as they play and exercise.

Poodle Prey Drive

Just how high is the prey drive of the Poodle? Historically, Poodles were bred as hunting dogs and their great success at this was down to their stamina, intelligence, and fantastic instincts. Used for the retrieval of waterfowl they were, and are, soft-mouthed. Retrievers need to be soft-mouthed so that they do not damage what instantly becomes food for human consumption the moment it dies. Their powerful nose also secured them the task of sniffing out mushrooms to find truffles.

The domestic Poodle is bound to keep some of these qualities, even after evolving. So, let’s turn our attention to the average Poodle in the average family home in these current times. Can Poodles be trusted with other pets and off the leash walks? Are they harder to train due to their instinctive prey drives?

First things first, yes, it’s probably fair to say the prey drive of the regular Poodle is fairly high. While out enjoying a walk and they see a squirrel ahead of them will they run after it? I’d bet your bottom dollar on it, but let’s put this into perspective. A dog partaking in an exciting walk with lots of enticing smells and visual pleasures suddenly sees a fast-moving object up ahead. Their interest is immediately there and just as they work out what lies before them off it scarpers. Of course, your dog is then going to want to explore the situation further, who wouldn’t?

Poodles enjoy the chase, but they don’t go into a game of chase to achieve an end result. After all, let’s remember folks, “the thrill is in the chase”. Your Poodle will get the same thrill from chasing a ball down the field or running around after another dog. Poodles don’t have a desire to kill but if they see something move within their viewpoint then they will take an interest.

What Will Poodles Chase?

What exactly will Poodles chase in their environment then and what does this mean if you have, or wish to have a second smaller pet? It’s safe to say Poodles, given the chance, will enjoy chasing small animals such as mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, hares, cats, ducks, and chickens. Anything smaller than themselves they will happily run after given the opportunity.

I should point out at this stage that it doesn’t always need to be an animal that they enjoy chasing. I have a Border Collie who is very in tune with certain car engine sounds. When he hears one he likes and he is in the fenced-in front yard he will chase the car along the edge of the hedge. If he wins the race he barks, if he doesn’t win, he spins twice in a circle – go figure! This is an OCD type of behavior as well as his desire to herd.

Can I Have a Smaller Pet and a Poodle?

You’ve either got a Poodle and are now considering a second pet, or you have a small pet and are keen on getting a Poodle. What’s the deal here then, yay or nay? Just because Poodles are predisposed to naturally chase things it doesn’t mean you can never have another animal in your home. What it does mean though is that any new addition to the home should be done gradually, carefully, and patiently. If you simply pop a new animal down in front of your Poodle with no planning or preparation, then you can expect bad results.

Done in the right way, however, will ensure a much smoother process whereby both animals are respected. With strict training from puppyhood, there’s no reason your Poodle can’t coexist with another pet. You can read our tips for ensuring a smooth introduction to a new pet in our article found here: Are Goldendoodles Good with Cats?

Can my Poodle be Trained not to Chase?

Now we’ve learned that Poodles do enjoy the odd chase given the opportunity let’s look at ways to curb the desire. After all, it can be a somewhat dangerous hobby to pursue, especially if you cannot reliably get your dog back at your feet when commanded to do so.

It is so important to begin training your dog almost as soon as they are home and settled with you. Not only does it help them respect you as the boss, but it also strengthens the bond they will have with you. The stronger the bond, the more they will want to please you.

If you have any doubts about your dog’s willingness to come back to you when called then leash walks are a must. Getting recall perfect is the most important aspect of reducing your Poodle’s likelihood to chase.

A highly trained dog will stop wherever it is doing when it hears the command to come back. This takes a lot of time and patience to develop though, so don’t expect miracles right away. Poodles are highly intelligent so will pick up new words very quickly,

Closing Thoughts

It’s pretty simple when it’s stripped back – yes, Poodles do enjoy chasing and will do this as a favorite hobby. They don’t have the drive to kill and purely enjoy the thrill of seeing something move and wanting to chase. This doesn’t mean you can never let your Poodle off its leash or have it around other animals and pets. It does mean you’ll need to provide consistent training from the word go to keep this habit from becoming a bigger problem. Luckily, you have on your hands a super clever dog who enjoys learning so training shouldn’t be a problem.