I have a 3 year old Samoyed. He likes to chase squirrels and birds, sometimes rabbits. But rabbits are not as common as squirrels and birds, and he's always on a leash, so I didn’t pay much attention to that behavior.

A few months ago, when he was sniffing a bush that I thought would just be the next potty spot, he suddenly moved fast and I heard a sound like a little animal being killed. He'd caught a little rat in his mouth. I scolded him and he no longer would touch the dead body. But yesterday, when we were walking, he suddenly rushed to a corner and the sound came again. This time it was a rabbit! I never thought a rabbit could be caught, even a little one like this one. I scolded him again.

There is a small decorative bush nearby which is really small and could not have anything to hide inside. But today, my dog went in there and caught three little rabbits in his mouth! I was shocked and yelled at him to make him open his mouth. This means the scolding has not affected him and he keeps having this instinct!

I don’t know what to do about this; he usually is quite aggressive to small male dogs too! Should I put something on his mouth from keep killing animals?

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    We have two related question, I am not sure either answers your specific question. Can killing a rabbit trigger a behavior change in my dog? and How can I prevent my dog from injuring/killing my rabbit? Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 14:45
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    depending on the area where you are from, you should check the law about wild animals killed by your pets. As owner you have some responsibilities in some countries. Depending of the area too is the season, and if the rabbits now have children. If this is the time for it, you may control your dog now more, shorten the leash, and after all nest are empty you and your dog can walk more relaxed again. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 7:36
  • What kind of leash are you using? If you have an appropriately sized leash, the dog shouldn't be able to dart that far away from you, and you can steer it away from areas where rodents might live (and no bush is "too small" for them). If you're using a flexi-lead and letting him run around, throw it away immediately and get a proper leash. This is for protection not only of rodents, but of him and you; flexi-leads are dangerous.
    – Allison C
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Samoyeds are a working breed with a strong hunting instinct. Have a look at a general list of characteristics here.

Working breeds in general need to be trained and walked more than most pet breeds or they might develop problematic behavior.

In addition to his high energy level, he has a strong prey drive. Every individual dog has their own personality, but some instincts were made more dominant by selective breeding. Simply scolding him is not enough to deactivate those instincts.

First of all, throw away all squeeky toys and anything that makes a high pitch sound when pushed or bitten. These imitate the death scream of an animal. Your dog must not play with such toys again, or killing a small animal becomes a fun game for him.

Then you should keep him from killing animals with physical means. Either hold the leash shorter in areas where you assume small animals live or put a muzzle on him.

You must train wearing a muzzle with him, you cannot just slap it on and expect him to accept it. One way is to put a little treat into the muzzle and let him put his mouth inside to eat it. Repeat this a few times before you actually put the muzzle on for the first time. Start with just a few seconds muzzle time and gradually prolong the time. Put small treats inside the muzzle so he mentally connects the muzzle with positive feelings.

Lastly, you could keep him from killing animals with training. This is very hard due to his strong instincts, but not impossible. You need to do a lot of obedience training with him so he follows your command even if he's distracted by other things. Or you teach him to abort a little bag with food, then give him a treat from the bag every time he brings it to you.

Then you need to watch his body language to see when he goes into hunting mode. Whenever you see him taking on a hunting posture, you need to immediately give him a command to follow or throw the food bag. You have to do this before he snatches the animal up or kills it, or else you reinforce the killing with playtime or treats.

This method bears the risk of failing, so I suggest you keep him on the leash with a muzzle on at least during the time when the offspring of wild animals is still young.

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