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Whilst dogs have been bred away from being predators like their wolf ancestors, most of them still retain the instinctive ability and want to hunt – due to breeding, the prey drive manifests in many different ways in different dog breeds. Prey drive includes a few different behaviours including searching, stalking, chasing, biting to grab or biting to kill. Obviously not all dogs have such a strong prey drive, but it’s good to be aware of the specific behaviours as all dogs are individuals and temperaments can vary.  The Staffy is known to have an extremely strong prey drive. They are a powerful breed and you should take great care when allowing them to run off lead in areas where they could come across smaller animals or dogs that they do not already know since they can be very wary of other dogs. Due to the breeds’ strong prey drive, as an owner, you need to be aware that it can be a mistake to trust a Staffy around any small animals and pets – including cats and small dog breeds.  The Staffy is known to be kind and tolerant to children of all ages, but it is important to be aware that they can sometimes play a bit rough and so are not always the best choice for a family with babies or very young kids.  These impressive dogs need to be well stimulated both physically and mentally in order for them to be well-balanced dogs and to prevent them from developing destructive or unwanted behaviours. They are a high energy breed and boredom needs to be prevented – the more exercise your Staffy is given, the more relaxed they will be in the home.  Even when a Staffy is well-trained, the extremely strong prey drive in them is complete instinct and so can become a real issue if you decide to take your dog to areas that are not secure where there will be smaller animals guaranteed to be around. It’s hard to trust that your dog won’t take off if they spot anything in the distance, they believe to be worth chasing even if at a long distance. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are playful dogs and greatly enjoy the company of people. Although so many assume that the Staffy is an aggressive dog due to its history of being a fighting dog, they are very affectionate and sweet-natured dogs that love to spend time with their owners. As I previously mentioned, Staffies can be boisterous by nature and with good breeding, handling and training they can grow into a very well-balanced dog. You should be aware of the difference between a dog playing and a dog pushing the boundaries to see how far they can go.  As I mentioned already, the Staffy is a very intelligent breed and, with an experienced owner and consistent training, they can be quite easy to train. They are headstrong dogs that need to be handled well as they may test the limits as to how far they can go. They must be socialised from a very young age with other dogs, people and situations. Even with an owner who is very familiar with the breed, you should never assume that your Staffy can be trusted 100% because of their prey drive being so strong.  It’s important to understand the difference between prey drive and aggression as they can very easily look like they are one in the same. A dog’s aggression is driven by very strong emotions like fear whereas their prey drive is instinctive. Aggressive dogs will want to increase the distance between themselves and the object of their aggression, but a dog’s prey drive will draw them closer to the target. So why does this really matter? Well – as a dog’s prey drive is not driven by emotions, it is most often easier to manage than emotion-based aggression.  An extremely strong prey drive can be particularly problematic if you dog wants to chase absolutely anything that it sees – going for walks could become a nightmare for you as an owner. So, they need to be properly trained and corrected in order to prevent your dog from ignoring your every call. Most of a dog’s prey drive behaviours are harmless, but can cause problems for you as an owner, being unable to go for a walk with your canine companion and to be constantly worrying that they are going to take off.  It’s super important to look into the specifics of a dog breed before bringing them into your home to make sure that you and your pup will be a good match. Plus, it’s good to be aware of the different behaviours that your breed of interest may show more than another breed would.

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