What Is Drive?
There are many types of "drives" - Prey, Play, and Pack, Etc.
Drive - Is an inherent, unconscious desire that pushes the dog into taking action in relation to something. All dogs have certain basic drives. Sometimes, a dog with a lot of drive is referred to as being "hot." Rarely does one inborn trait exist without the influence of another alongside that behavior. There are several “drives" that can exist with a diversity of intensities. For training aspects, some drives are desirable and some are not. Dogs have certain basic drives, each drive is linked to a dog's survival. For example, to survive out in the wild a dog must have the desire and ability to seize and kill its prey. For our breeding program we like dogs with strong nerves, and a lot of energy where these drives can be channeled and focused along with sound and discerning qualities. As per the breeds character traits.
Favorable drives are effective only when coupled with strong nerves and the correct thresholds.
*Prey Drive - Prey drive refers to a dog's inherent desire to chase, catch and kill prey. This natural trait outlines the foundation for a large variety of dog jobs. High prey driven dogs will chase a ball without end, and continue to hunt relentlessly for it if it goes out of view. Many times, these strong prey driven traits can be used for working.
*Play Drive - Is a dog's desire for physical contact with the family, trainer, and/or other dogs. This behavior is more commonly observed in puppyhood and can follow throughout their lifetime. When puppies are wanting to play, they display a particular gesture known as the Beckhov’s Bow. Once a puppy bows and the other responds in a playful nature, it's understood by both as only being play. This drive can be used for motivating many forms of training.
*Pack Drive - A higher ranked, pack driven dog is easier to train in obedience than the more standoffish dog. The dog believes it's more important to please the pack rather than pleasing themselves. This desire is to be socially connected with the pack members, it's the state of mind in the social drives, the dog seeking the companionship of others. They want to hang out with their owner, other people, and dogs. In higher levels, this type of dog would follow you everywhere, be underfoot and be waiting outside the door for you to come out. The overly dependent dog is going to become fixated on "where's my owner," falling out of drive. Nerves are also a factor here. Higher pack driven dogs are more trainable due to their fear of rejection, and getting expelled from their "pack."
*Rank Drive - Is a dogs desire to improve their social status in the "Pack." Dogs that are higher in rank drive will attempt to establish the highest position. More independent dogs tend to also be higher in rank drive. Some dogs will fight to the death to achieve the "top" position with other dogs, but also be totally submissive to humans and accept their leadership without a challenge. You will observe a wide range among dogs' behaviors. Some will challenge and constantly test you for the "superior" position while also displaying aggression.
*Guard Drive - This is used to defend territory and/or prey by barking and growling. If these warnings do not work, then a defensive bite could follow. This behavior is only exhibited under specific conditions and is territorial in nature. Other drives contribute to various degrees of intensities.
*Protection Drive - This is to protect the pack leader and the other members. This drive is displayed when either a real or imagined threat is perceived. A subtle sign of this is when a dog gets between their owner and a stranger while remaining on guard. An extreme case is when a dog engages a threatening individual with absolutely no protection training. This behavior is much rarer than people would think.
*Survival Drive - This could be a problem depending on both strength of the drive and the length of time it takes to be displayed. It refers to the dog's instinct to defend itself. It's part of the self- preservation instinct and is motivated by fear brought on by a real or imagined threat. It's exhibited as “fight or flight," also known as “defense or avoidance.” When a dog's in defense drive, it's displaying aggressive behaviors. Their hackles might be up, the dog might be barking, growling, lunging, and snapping as an attempt to convince the threat to stay away. This dog feels it must fight for it's life. A dog in defense drive is under acute anxiety, with possible feelings of uncertainty. You will witness ears moving to-and-fro, the dog may bark and back up, and step forward again. If the dog goes into defense, it will attempt to avoid the threat by a swift, intense attack, then retreat before an injury is sustained. In avoidance mode, it will simply try to escape. The dog will exhibit body language that is intended to increase its size, and therefore, its ability to threaten, like turning sideways with its hair up. If a dog's on a leash and begins to go into "fight or flight" mode, it will invariably go into "defense or fight" because the leash has inhibited the flight opportunity.
Note: the next time someone tells you that their growling and lunging dog is being "protective," that protection by its very description, demands the presence of a genuine and discernible threat. If the dog is carrying on defensively toward a non-threatening person/object, that is a frightened dog, not protection.
*Hardness - This trait is both psychological and physiological. It is a physical and/or mental resiliency towards unpleasant experiences. Hardness is best understood when compared to a pain threshold. A dog with a huge level of hardness can take an immense amount of pain and stress with minimal prolonged, negative effects. This type of dog requires stronger corrections when defiant. Physiologically, hardness is in direct relation to the thickness of the sheathing around the nerve fibers in a dog’s body; the thicker the sheathing, then the harder the dog. Highly excitable levels in a hard dog will increase its hardness where corrections may become totally ineffective.
*Softness - Softness is the opposite of hardness and is the natural state of the wild dog. Nature has dictated softness as a survival trait. The soft dog perceives pain and stress more extremely than the average dog. A dog with a high level of softness often associates the location where it was exposed to a painful and/or stressful experience. It may never go back to that particular area. For example, if a soft dog stepped on a hornet and got stung, it might avoid that spot in the yard for hours, possibly days before the effects wear off.
*Trainability - Trainability is a psychological character trait and is generally seen in one of two ways. The first is the spontaneous attempt to perform the will of its pack leader/handler. The second is the number of behaviors the dog can be taught. Trainability can be described as a desire to be obedient and a willingness to learn new things.
*Pup Playing Games - This drive is demonstrated when dogs stalk and pounce on imaginary prey such as sticks, leaves, and rocks. They'll pick up objects and shake them, then carry them around very proudly. Other examples are “I’ll chase you, then you chase me,” and tug games which can be used to motivate obedience.
*Pup Guarding - In Puppy Guard Drive, a dog will get a prey object and taunt another dog with it in order to initiate play, and then make a big deal out of ferociously guarding that object. All of these mock-drives prepare a dog for adulthood by allowing the puppy to experience these behaviors.
*Pup Fighting - To many, rough play can sometimes be perceived as aggression when it's really just Puppy Fight Drive. Dogs prepare themselves for potential future battles by wrestling, biting and roughhousing around when they're young. They learn to leap, tumble, and divert while also gaining valuable social, and physical skills such as controlling the force of their biting as well as their aggression.
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