I have about 2 acres of woodland set in a larger (15 acres) wood. I regularly take my dog with me when I visit the wood. She is a 4 year old Vizsla / Staffie cross approx. 19 kg.

The woods are a mixture of well spaced planted trees and more scrubbier trees such as hawthorn and blackthorn.

She loves to run in the woods, chasing squirrels etc (without success) however when I check her over at home she occasionally has scratches on her muzzle or deeper cuts on her chest or legs. I treat the deeper cuts with a very diluted TCP and water mixture and they heal nicely over time.

Will my dog eventually work out how to avoid the thickets of the thornier trees so she picks up fewer scrapes and cuts ?

  • At 4 she is no longer a puppy. If she has not sorted this out by now I doubt she will learn. – paparazzo Nov 2 '18 at 14:55

That depends on how much these thorns actually hurt your dog.

Envision the thoughts of a dog in very simple categories: good or bad

  • Playtime = good
  • Reprimand = bad
  • Food = good
  • Pain, injury = bad
  • Chasing squirrels = playtime = good
  • Running into thorns = pain = bad

Now, dogs are not stupid and thoughts are not as binary as displayed here. She probably knows very well that the risk of injury is higher in certain areas or with certain types of vegetation and tries to avoid them. But chasing squirrels is so much fun that she either forgets in that moment or just doesn't care because the reward (good feeling) of a chase is much bigger than the penalty (bad feeling) of a few scratches.

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