Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels? Unravelling the Mysteries Behind this Canine Quirk

As an experienced wildlife observer and nature lover, I have always been intrigued by the question: why do dogs chase squirrels? I have seen countless instances of this phenomenon with my own eyes and spent many hours researching it. After all this study, I can confidently say that there is much more to this canine quirk than meets the eye. In this blog post, I will unravel the mysteries behind why dogs chase squirrels so eagerly!

Dogs have a natural instinct to chase and many of these critters trigger their prey drive. Squirrels are particularly appealing to dogs due to their size, speed, and the challenge of trying to catch them. Furthermore, chasing small animals is an effective way for dogs to expend energy and satisfy their urge to hunt. For these reasons, dogs find it hard to resist chasing squirrels and other critters in their backyard.

Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?

Dogs have a natural instinct to chase and many of these critters trigger their prey drive. Squirrels are particularly appealing to dogs due to their size, speed, and the challenge of trying to catch them. Furthermore, chasing small squirrels-eat/”>animals is an effective way for dogs to expend energy and satisfy their urge to hunt. For these reasons, dogs find it hard to resist chasing squirrels and other critters in their backyard.

Curiosity or Playfulness

Puppies find squirrels utterly intriguing, with their acrobatic movements and tantalizing aromas. Such an adorable animal can bring out the child within a pup, making them squeal with delight when they spot one. And as soon as the furry little critter zips away, that’s when the puppy’s inner wolf awakens and turns it into a fun-filled game of tag.

Some dogs might just seem to be up for a game of tag with a squirrel, but others are actually aiming higher – looking to track down their own meal.

Predatory Drive

Dogs who demonstrate a predatory drive are attempting to catch their prey — whether it be for eating or extinguishing it.

In such cases, you’ll want to make sure these dogs are kept close and watched over during outdoor activities so that they do not take off on their own in pursuit of their quarry!

Which Breeds Are the Biggest Chasers?

So which breeds are the biggest culprits when it comes to chasing critters? In most cases it’s sporting group of dogs (such as Spaniels, Retrievers and Pointers), terriers (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and some herding breeds (Border Collie and German Shepherd) who make up the biggest portion of ‘chasees’! Sighthounds such as Afghan hounds and Whippets can also be big contenders when it comes to critter-chasing.

Can Dogs Be Trained Not To Chase?

Training Techniques

Training techniques for dogs to stop chasing squirrels involve positive reinforcement, distraction and redirection. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding desired behaviors, such as not chasing, with treats or verbal praise. Distraction techniques involve providing an alternate focus for the pup by introducing games and toys to play. Redirection techniques involve calling the dog’s attention away from the squirrel and onto another object or activity. With consistent practice, these training techniques can help to discourage dogs from chasing after pesky squirrels.

How to Keep Chasing Dogs Safe

To keep chasing dogs safe, it’s important to recognize the ranges of emotion and mental health needs that can be present in the lives of our canine companions. Proper socialization and training can help dogs learn how to manage their instinctive behaviors, while providing healthy outlets for physical activity and regular mental stimulation.

Additionally, seeking out professional guidance when needed and creating a supportive environment can help create a safe atmosphere where dogs feel secure to express themselves without judgement. Finally, ensuring safety through keeping track of your pet‘s whereabouts and setting boundaries are essential steps in taking care of our canine friends!

Can Squirrels Hurt Dogs?

Most times no! Most dogs are bigger than squirrels after all so chances of getting hurt during playtime pursuits by our four legged friends are very slim. However once in a while we may hear stories about some angry or defensive rodents trying to fight back at larger pursuers so keeping an eye out for any open wounds or infection is always important. Investing in a first aid kit for your pet – especially if you enjoy taking trips outdoors – would be an excellent idea.

What Not to Do if Your Dog Catches a Squirrel

It’s important to keep in mind that if your dog catches a squirrel, there are certain things that should not be done. First and foremost, resist the urge to physically intervene immediately; while it’s natural to want to protect the squirrel from harm, sudden movements can startle your pup and cause them to become more aggressive.

Additionally, avoid punishing your dog for catching the squirrel as this could damage their trust in you. Finally, make sure to keep an eye on your pup at all times – even if they seem harmless, it’s important to make sure they don’t harm the animal.

What to Do if Your Dog Catches a Squirrel

The most important thing for any pet parent is to keep their animal safe. If your dog successfully catches a squirrel, it’s important to act quickly and safely. The first thing you should do is calmly call the dog away from the squirrel. Keep your distance and call the dog back to you with a firm, reassuring voice so they know they’re doing something good. You can reward them with a treat or toy as an incentive.

If the squirrel is still alive, it’s best not to intervene further and let nature take its course. Just make sure that your pup doesn’t hurt themselves in their excitement. If the squirrel is injured or dead, it’s important to ensure the safety of both animals. Carefully pick up your pup with one arm behind their neck and one hand firmly supporting their hind end, then gently remove them from the area.

Activities for Dogs that Chase Squirrels

It’s essential for pet owners of dogs who chase after small animals regularly to provide them with appropriate outlets for energy and play. Exercise-based activities such as walks, hikes and runs will help tire them out both physically and mentally so they won’t be tempted to search for other prey. It’s also important to spend time playing fetch or tug of war with your pup to teach them that chasing can happen in a controlled environment.

You can also condition your pup not to chase small animals by pairing positive reinforcement with experiences away from other animals. Whenever you see another animal nearby, give your pup plenty of treats or praise and distraction before redirecting them away. This will reinforce desirable behaviors instead of chasing.


Should I allow my dog to pursue squirrels?

No, allowing your dog to chase squirrels is not recommended. Wild animals can act unpredictably and there is a risk that they will harm your pet. In order to keep them safe, it is important to discourage chasing any type of wildlife.

Is it acceptable to allow my dog to pursue squirrels?

It is not advisable to let your dog chase squirrels. Though it is natural for curious pooches to follow their instinctive urge, these creatures are wild and there could be the possibility of them being attacked by other unknown animals or potentially getting injured from a fall.

  • Keep them away from wild creatures
  • Discourage chasing
  • Follow safety protocols

What breed of dog is known for chasing squirrels?

Small breeds of dogs such as Terriers, Pinschers and Dachshunds are known to have a natural inclination to chase squirrels. That doesn’t mean that larger breeds aren’t capable of it, though – all dogs, regardless of size or breed, can become fascinated by small and quick-moving animals like squirrels.


Overall, it is clear why dogs love to chase squirrels – they are fun, challenging and a great way for them to use up their energy and satisfy their urge to hunt. This behavior may be annoying to us humans, but there’s no denying the joy it brings to our canine companions. So next time your pup starts chasing after a squirrel in your backyard, you can take comfort in knowing that it’s simply fulfilling his natural instinct.

Ultimately, this answers the question of why do dogs chase squirrels – because nature has wired them to do so. But the deeper understanding of this canine quirk doesn’t end there – there are still many mysteries to unravel when it comes to our pups’ behavior. And a better understanding of our furry friends will lead us one step closer to becoming true dog lovers.

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