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Canine Behavior/My dog won't leave my mice alone


I have a 5 year old, chow mix that is also mixed with a bunch of other breeds. I also have 2 tiny fancy nice that he is obsessed with. Right when I get him and let him out he goes straight to my room and try's to jump on my desk to get them. He spends more time and attention to the mice than anything else and it's not only stressful but also very concerning because most of the time the only way I can get him to eat is if I put his food nowl in my room. I have tryed putting him in his crate and someone even told me to spray him with water but he just wants to drink it,  I love my dog very much and I am concerned that he is going to try to get at them and hurt himself some how or stop eating and just not being the playful loving dog I know he iS. It's like it has consumed him and I really don't want to have to give up my mice and that's why I am trying to look for answers, if it comes down to it I guess I'm prepared for giving up my mice. I just hope it dosent come to that.

Make the bedroom TOTALLY INACCESSIBLE TO HIM.  CLOSE THE DOOR.  Eventually, he will get to them.

Feed him in the same manner you always have.  If he refuses to eat, distract him after fifteen minutes of putting his food down and remove the bowl.  Offer it again at his next usual feeding time (dogs should be fed twice daily).  DO NOT encourage him to eat.  DO NOT make any comment or add anything to his food.  The dog will NOT STARVE HIMSELF.  Your dog has a very high prey drive; he can smell and HEAR the mice (did you know that the male mouse actually sings to the female mouse?)  

You don't say how long you have had the mice.  It is inadvisable for you to bring any other animals into your home, including another dog.  I'm certain the store you purchased the mice from will take them back if your dog does nothing but lie at your bedroom door all die moaning and crying, or damages the woodwork by trying to "scratch" his way in.

It is all consuming for a dog with a high prey drive to want to *see* and *test* smaller animals.  This does not mean your dog is dangerous, aggressive, or in any way anything but a fine dog.  If the mice are new to your home (within the past three weeks), this situation should resolve.  However: if you make a mistake and leave your bedroom door ajar, your dog will eventually get to those mice.  

Let me also tell you that mice, even those bred as "pets" (and most are bred actually as pet "food", vis-a-vis, snakes) can still carry bacteria on their skin that is potentially hazardous to you.  Keep a hand cleaner present near the mice and, whenever you handle them, their bedding, etc., be certain to sanitize your hands.  The smell of the mice on your hands is very accessible to your dog; most good hand sanitizers extinguish scent to us and, to a dog, should diminish the scent.

You might ask your veterinarian if s/he knows someone who keeps mice as pets.  This way, you know they're going to a good home. This is a potential disaster in the making: you do not want to find the remains of your mice and you do not want to increase your dog's prey drive by giving him the opportunity to satisfy his curiosity.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

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Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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