Canine Hunting Behavior: The Mouse Pounce

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We are presented with some bizarre behavior here. What on earth is this dog doing? Why is it hopping around? Was it really raised with rabbits?

Well, dogs can be raised alongside, and get along with, many different species (the livestock guarding dog that lives with a flock of sheep, for example). And it is true that dogs can learn by imitation. So did this dog really learn this behavior from rabbits?

Why dogs “mouse pounce”

Our big clue comes at the beginning of the video, when we see the dog put both front paws on a spot on the ground, paw on the spot, and then bring its nose to the spot. We can see something interesting is there! It’s probably something very fast-moving, like a big bug, a lizard or a mouse — something the dog sees as a prey item.

The jumping the dog is doing is actually a prey-capturing move called — you guessed it — the mouse pounce. Canids of all kinds, from foxes to coyotes to wolves (and yes, even dogs), use this move to capture small prey, by bringing the forepaws down forcefully onto the prey, pinning it to the ground.

Sometimes dogs just use a small lift of their upper body and come down gently, and sometimes they jump all the way up into the air and come down hard with those paws!

And sometimes, as we can see from this video, they combine the mouse pounce with rapid pursuit of their prey, resulting in a Pepe-le-Pew “boinging” across the yard.

Check out another adorable video, this time with foxes “mouse pouncing” here.

Have you ever seen your dog do a “mouse pounce” or something similar? Tell us about it in the comments!