Samathantha Ollerenshaw, Balclutha Primary School, asks :-
Our teacher's dog only chases rabbits when they dash away. Why doesn't it chase the ones sitting or hopping?
Kevin Stafford, a veterinarian at Massey University's Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, responded.
There is no definite scientific answer to this question. What breed is the dog? What does it do when it sees sitting rabbits?
Dogs are scavengers and hunters. They hunt using a variety of techniques. Some breeds chase prey using their sight (Gazehounds such as greyhounds), others sneak up on and then stop and point when they get close to prey (Pointers, Setters) while others are just harum scarum and will chase after anything that moves.
The dog in question could either be bred with a tendency to chase moving things and/or it may has been trained to chase moving rabbits by its owner encouraging this behaviour, probably inadvertently, or it could have found that chasing running rabbits is a lot of fun. While it does not chase sitting rabbits it may be trying to sneak up on them to increase its chances of success when the rabbits starts to run.
A moving rabbit is probably more obvious and attractive to most dogs and they will chase it, but this dog could easily be encouraged to run towards sitting rabbits.