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The Predatory Pancake - the what, why and how to help!

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

The genetics of herding breeds, particularly Border Collies, strongly influences their behaviour. For generations we have selectively bred the breed to have strong fixed motor patterns such as predatory chase sequence which is made up of the orient, eye, stalk and chase behaviours. When herding breeds are kept within urban environments the innate desire to carry out these behaviours will still exist but the outlet of herding sheep is not always available. Instead, herding behaviours can be seen around stimuli that often trigger a Border Collies desire to control movement. From cars, joggers to other dogs.

The Border Collie will stare intently at the trigger, often the gaze can not be broken. Some dogs will drop into a crouched herding position or lay onto the floor. The fixation based behaviour can not only be anticipatory of movement but also a fear based behaviour.

This is why we refer to this as the ‘Predatory Pancake’, the dog is often stuck in the ‘Eye’ part of the predatory chase sequence and it is difficult to break their intent regardless of what toy you have, treats or where you move. The ‘eye’ is strong for Border Collies, some more than others.

With Border Collies ranging from 12kg - 24kg, some are easier to move than others. With that in mind, we need to help the dog before they get stuck in a predatory pancake!


The first step of any training is to identify the function of the behaviour, what is driving your dog to carry it out and what are the triggers.

Afterward we need to teach more desirable responses. With herding breeds that struggle to break the ‘Eye’ and can become fixated we look at teaching LAT protocol (Look at That), this builds engagement with you and disengagement with the trigger. As the first stage of the predatory chase sequence is the ‘Orient’ we need to catch the dog here, before they escalate.

Proximity to a trigger is a big influencing factor for success or failure, how close can your dog be to the trigger before they are struggling?

We then need to teach a get out of jail behaviour, for when you up the creek without a paddle. A ‘Let’s Go’ cue, that means we move in X direction now along with Emergency U-Turns can help!

Want to find out how to teach these behaviours? We’d love to help. We have modules on the Collie Collective waiting for you!

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