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Predatory Aggression
Present in animals with very strong hunting instincts. These animals often bolt after smaller animals (squirrels, rabbits, mice, birds, cats, small dogs) in attempts to catch and kill these prey items. Dogs may have little regard for their owner who is getting dragged down the street. There have been many owners including children who have been injured as the result of being pulled over and dragged by some very powerful dogs. Predatory aggression in dogs pose a particular threat in situations where new babies are born or introduced into families. Most noted for this problem are Huskies... where owners have noticed nothing and one day when turning their back or leaving the baby alone, the dog rushes over grabs and shakes the baby and that's the end of the baby, and usually the end of the dog. Usually there are preliminary signs that owners can watch for, and specific measures that can be taken to greatly reduce the risk of such occurrences. In Cats, predatory aggression is a concern to those owners who also enjoy birds. I have one client who has a nice amount of land and is in a good bit of personal conflict because although she feels a strong need to let her cats out, she can't allow herself to permit this cause they are catching and killing the very birds she is attracting into her yard with feeders. More commonly, situations present with single cats that have grown up as the only cat in the household. Play in cats, as in all animals, functions as a potent tool for learning survival skills. Hunting is such a skill that in evolutionary terms has been of great significance to dogs and cats. In cats, a scarcity of natural prey items often find substitutes in unsuspecting ankles walking past. There are some very fuzzy lines here with regard to how much of this is predatory aggression and how much of it is overly aggressive play. Here the semantic distinction should not matter with regard to treatment which generally involves appropriate means of discipline, well structured and strategically timed interaction periods, and appropriate outlets for the energy being funneled into this drive.