why do dogs hate squirrels

why do dogs hate squirrels


Why Do Dogs Hate Squirrels?


You’ve probably seen it time and time again. A quiet walk in the park with your furry friend suddenly turns into a frenzied chase as soon as a bushy-tailed squirrel comes into view. But why do dogs seem to have this almost innate disdain for squirrels? Let’s take a closer look.

Historical Context

First, let’s take a step back and consider the historical context. Dogs are descendants of wolves, and much of their behavior can be attributed to their ancestry.

  1. Hunting Instincts: Wolves are natural hunters, and they often prey on small mammals, like squirrels. This instinct may have been passed down to your dog, compelling them to chase after squirrels.
  2. Territorial Behavior: Dogs, like wolves, are also territorial creatures. Squirrels, being adventurous and often trespassing into yards, can be seen as invading your dog’s territory, triggering a defensive response.

Dog’s Perspective

Now, let’s try to see things from your dog’s perspective.

  • Excitement: Squirrels are fast, unpredictable, and their quick movements can trigger your dog’s predatory instincts. The chase becomes a thrilling game for your dog.
  • Frustration: On the other hand, your dog’s inability to catch the squirrel can lead to frustration, which can be perceived as hostility.
Dog’s Perspective Outcome
Excitement Chase
Frustration Hostility

How To Manage This Behavior

As a caregiver, you might want to manage this behavior for the safety of both your dog and the local wildlife. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Training: Use command training to teach your dog to focus on you, regardless of the distractions around them.
  2. Leash: Always keep your dog on a leash in squirrel-populated areas.
  3. Mental Stimulation: Provide your dog with other forms of mental stimulation to distract them from the squirrels.


Why does my dog chase squirrels but not cats?

Your dog might perceive squirrels as prey due to their quick, erratic movements. Cats, on the other hand, usually move more slowly and deliberately, so they might not trigger the same predatory response.

How can I train my dog not to chase squirrels?

Start with basic command training, such as “sit” and “stay”. Then gradually introduce distractions, like squirrels, rewarding your dog for ignoring them.

Is it harmful for my dog to chase squirrels?

It can be. Your dog might hurt themselves or the squirrel during the chase. It’s best to keep your dog on a leash and redirect their attention when they start to show interest in a squirrel.

Remember, understanding your dog’s behavior is the first step towards fostering a peaceful co-existence with our furry and not-so-furry friends alike.