I have a Plott hound mix - rescue. He's a sweet heart. I've had him for 4 years and we've managed to smooth out most of his edges.

I'm still struggling a bit to handle the [very] sporadic meltdowns he has over cats when I walk him on leash around the neighborhood. It's once in a blue moon sporadic.

I've learned I can get him back on track relatively quickly if he darts after a squirrel. Even with the majority of cat sightings. But once in a great while he will see a cat and not only attempt to dart but will scream like a banshee. To the point where people come out of their house because they think I might be hurting him. It has only happened twice but it was really embarrassing and just came out of nowhere. I do notice a small amount of tension building up when it happens. But in 4 years it's only lead to a meltdown twice.

He has a prey drive but it's not always so intense. In fact I had a cat in my house and while in my arms, he didn't make a peep. I never let the cat down around him.

I want to train the prey drive out of him but not sure how. Especially because when I walk him in the woods or on trails he's off leash. So I imagine it's not sinking in when in the woods he has free reign to run wherever but in neighbourhoods he can't.

  1. I don't want him to hurt any other critter.
  2. Heaven forbid I don't react fast enough or the lead breaks and he runs into traffic.
  3. I don't want people to think I'm physically abusing my dog when he's just losing his mind over a random cat.

And when I say I noticed built up tension I mean: for example today he happened to be particularly fired up by the many squirrels we were seeing in the woods and then just as we started walking into the neighbourhood. Then by the time he saw the cat it was ten times worse. And the last time it happened, he saw several cats but by the 3rd or 4th one again he had the meltdown.

What should I do? I can't avoid squirrels and cats anywhere outside.

2 Answers 2


One of my dogs has prey drive too - and the second one hates cats. They are street dogs - though we´ve picked them up as puppies, instincts are sitting deep.

I once made an anti-prey-drive-course with the first one. So here comes what I´ve been told.

Train your dog on "asking before freaking out". Give him treats not for doing anything, but for doing anything and then looking into your eyes.

Start with keeping him on the leash (even in the house) while training. Throw a treat in front of him - but don´t let him pick it up. Let him get desperately crazy about it if need be. As soon as he´s looking at you - good boy! He may eat it. You´ll see he´ll learn pretty fast to ask before going crazy on anything. Extend that kind of training on toys and whatever, so he´ll learn to ask you before doing nearly anything.

Though this works absolutely great for us - she looks on us before doing a single step towards any kind of thing she wants, including deer, mice, rabbits - it has taken nearly a year to work properly. The first successes after only a few weeks have made us too confident - and she was gone in the forest again. So don´t get frustrated if there are setbacks in the first weeks or months.

Also we were adviced to use a clicker and even a dog whistle, with the dog whistle being the signal for liver sausage and doing this only from time to time to remember it was the greatest thing in the world if the whistle blows - as a kind of "Back-Getter" if she´s freaking out again despite all the training. Well, we didn´t do that as I don´t want to carry all those things around with me. We´re fine with the eye-looking.

Of course all this only works if your dog is treat-sensitive, which our little lady is. Our cat-hating male is absolutely not - so I´m looking forward on other responses myself...


Few things to recognize:

  • A Plott hound is a hunting dog, so hunting is what they are supposed to do.

  • Some dog breeds are easier to train then others

  • You should resign to the fact that some dogs should or may never be walked off leash, regardless of how much you'd like to.

I don't know how much systematic training you have done with this dog in the past, but the fact that he listens sometimes and seems to get worst at other times you may want to go back to square one as far as training is concerned.

  1. With the dog on leash, have him focus on you. Using positive reinforcement make sure you are his world. You can do this with food (if he is food focused) or toys.
  2. Train recall. Make sure that he has a solid recall. Dont let him off the leash unless he returns to you the first (or second time at most) you tell him to return.
  3. Once he is able to focus on you, introduce distractions.
  4. Go back to step one as needed.

You will need patience as this can be a long process with some dogs. It is best approached in a systematic way as described above, but with enough patience you should be able to have control over the dog.

Hope this helps.

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