Today we want to dive deep into an age old mystery. We want to thoroughly discover the reasons behind a question that countless people from all over the world have asked themselves: Why do dogs chase squirrels?
Where does one begin with such an important, impactful and poignant inquiry? The answer is simple, you begin at the beginning. So, to trace the origins of this mystifying question, we have to go back to the earliest ancestors of your beloved dog: wild wolves. Thousands and thousands of years ago, the ancestors of your dog weren’t lucky enough to be given their food by a doting owner. They weren’t lucky enough to have a bowl with their name on it, knowing that throughout the day, every day, delicious food, like WellyChef Homemade Dog Food Done Right Base Mix, will be poured into it. Instead, back in those savage days, wolves had to hunt for their food. Whether in packs or on their own, they had to chase down whichever unlucky animal caught their scent. Only then were they able to enjoy a meal. And it is that predatory instinct which has remained with dogs to this day, and is what triggers a dog whenever it sees any kind of movement in a tree, or a bush, or out in the open while they’re going for a walk or gazing out the window of a car.
Additionally, certain breeds of dogs, from Retrievers and Border Collies to Sheepdogs, that were bred as hunting dogs in the past to assist hunters, have a more modernized version of the pre-existing predatory instinct. That makes those breeds even more susceptible to the urge to chase a squirrel, or any other small animal for that matter.
While it is great to see your dog do for fun what they’re ancestors had to do to survive, there are a few things you have to watch out for. Firstly, if your dog is talented enough to not just chase, but catch the squirrel it has targeted, they might eat it, which isn’t a great thing to see, or clean up. Secondly, if your dog is constantly squirrel chasing, that can be potentially dangerous, as during their frantic pursuit they might fail to notice an incoming car or get lost or get injured on a fence or any other obstacle.
So what are you supposed to do, if it’s a natural instinct?
The easiest answer is to train your dog to not chase every squirrel they see. This will take time and patience, but once completed it will be a great means to keep your dog out of harm’s way, while also sparing yourself from the unpleasantness of seeing your dog eat a squirrel.
So there you have it, dog owners, the answer to a great question is instinct, both natural and trained. We do want to end this on a fun note however, and that is to keep in mind that sometimes squirrels actually enjoy the game of being chased, while dogs enjoy the game of chasing, with neither the squirrel having any intention on getting caught, nor the dog with any intention on actually catching them. In these instances, it is best to just relax, know your dog is getting plenty of exercise, and enjoy the show!