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Discussion Starter #1
Yes. Prey drive. Hunt drive. Pack drive. Fight drive. Defense drive. How each drive is manifested from the stance of the dog to the sound of their bark from fear to confidence. What it looks like. What balanced drives mean. How drives and nerve come together to make a dog what it is both good and bad.

Any dog. Any breed. Any mix. Any LEVEL of drive.

I have a dog with great hunt drive but she is very nervy. If left to her own devices she would hunt all day but due to her nerve she becomes unreliable when you add rules (such as stopping and indicating an article). She has good pack drive but due to her nerve it is more dependent than partnership. She is always in conflict with her drives cannot overcome that conflict.

Dog number two is also a great hunt drive dog. Carried her through to High FH1, High tracking IPO 3. She is low on pack drive and I earn every bit of my relationship with her. She is not as clear in the head as I would like and I wish for more prey drive and more power though she exhibits a ton of power in defense and fight drive. She works as long as we keep up the game of I get what I want and that is the path to her getting what she wants. She is the Premack Poster Child.

Dog number 3 is still very young. Looks like a good one and very clear in the head. He is developing so in a lot of ways I don't know him and he does not know himself. So far he is looking very good....

I see the drives in these dogs very clearly. I have a much harder time reading the drives in other dogs.. just pet dogs or dogs in other venues such as agility. I see they HAVE drive but what drive is it and is it situational or genetic?
 

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Well, I would say my current dog has extremely high pack drive, lives to please.
Prey drive has been high from day one, as is his drive to play. ( he was one of the two pups who were harassing and chasing their littermates and older dogs).
Rank drive doesnt seem to be super high, but yeah he will use his teeth at times to try to get what he wants, shows some handler aggression, and is generally toothy when in drive. He decided he really wanted to harass my wifes lab the other night, I was in no mood, so put him in a down stay at my feet while I sat on the couch. Well, he was in no mood for that! After I think his third foiled attempt to get up the little knucklehead put his mouth around my knee and applied some pressure ( while looking me in the face ).
Fight drive I just dont know about. Havent had any mishaps with strange dogs yet. I'll say that when he plays, it gets super rough and he wont take corrections from older dogs. Never has. What I've noticed, is that in play at least, he will escalate right along with another dog or human. We've not hit the point where he will stop or back down as I stop things short of getting that rough.
Hunt drive is decent, we play alot of find it games in the woods, and he seems pretty good at it. I can throw a ball into the woods at night and he almost never fails to bring it back, even in pitch dark. And he's quick about it too. Has to be the nose.
Work ethic is pretty darn good. Loves training, always ready to go go go, and is an overall pleasure to train. Always there wanting to help out. Its like having an employee in training shadowing me.
My only ( sort of )complaint is that he's exceptionally mouthy, even for a gsd. He's ALWAYS ready to bite something. Not aggressively, its almost like a reflex for him. So we've been working to develope his self control without outright squashing the desire to bite......slow going there. Would be easier to squash it altogether but I dont want that.
Havent seen him go into flight yet. Havent seen much more than slight hesitation from him. So far he's been one of those dogs who needs to be protected from himself.
He just turned a year old so we're still learning each other, and I'm no expert on drives....but overall our personalities mesh very well, and I really enjoy having him as an adventure companion. Hes been great everywhere I've taken him, and has alot of enthusiasm for pretty much everything, which rubs off on me.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like a solid citizen and confident with not a lot of nerviness.

Fight drive (from my understanding) is not typically measured against other dogs. It is usually measured against other species. For instance, in cape hunting dogs it is the dog that escalates when in a fight with its prey or escalates in defense. This includes a decoy in bite sports or bad guys in working dogs. Some dogs will bring the fight to the decoy (knew a couple like this) and would have fought to the death (make great patrol dogs).

One thing often very misunderstood and recognized is defense drive. I have a female with great defense drive (so she is never put on the table for training) but her prey drive is not sufficient to carry her when she is uncomfortable. How do you recognize a dog in defense drive vs. fight drive vs prey drive (and at the end of a leash all three can be exhibited but subduing and redirecting each drive is very different for each one).

For instance: A dog is reacting at the end of the leash. Defense reactivity is very different from aggression reactivity and responding with training to improve this is different for each kind of reactivity. People often say their dog is "protecting them" when the dog is in full defense and only protecting itself because it cannot get away (leash) so helping this dog will be very different from the dog at the end of the leash who is eager to aggress (start a fight).

Here is a question for agility handlers. What drive is the dog in when running a course? Do the dogs switch between drives when running a course? How do you know?

My observation is that Drive is genetic. You can encourage drive and direct drive but I do not think you can build drive (though there are many who would argue this).

If you have a dog that has low food drive (and food is used a LOT for teaching) what do people use as rewards for learning?

Knowing what sort of drive your dog has (low, medium high) and what drive the dog is exhibiting is very basic to dog training and behavior.
 

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My boy does not have super high food drive....either his ball or a game of tug is what he mostly cares about. His ball is actually better than a leash.......
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can always learn more about drives. I am not the quintessential expert on drives (or dog training). I learn more all the time.

I am very curious about people who train dogs that are NOT in IPO or Bite sports or patrol work and how they work with all those dogs out there that have mixed up drives and nerve to get results (regardless of the method). How did you obtain reliable success in reducing reactivity in a defensive dog that was very nervy? Or is the thing always a problem and only managed? And if they took that dog to competition and succeeded what was the method used?

Seems a complex and fascinating subject (but maybe only to me? Haha).
 

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I have a love/hate relationship with the word "drive." It is insufficient in painting a whole picture, most of the time.

"Prey drive" is general. Within prey drive there are so many factors and variables. In general, prey drive stems from hunting instinct. Wolves do the whole sequence: track, chase, bite, kill, consume. But selective breeding has made certain traits stronger or weaker. For example, hounds have prey drive but they excel most at the tracking portion. Terriers are good at the fighting/killing portion. Herders are good at the chasing and out-maneuvering portion. This is also why they have different dogs (hounds and houlas) track boar and hold them at bay, and different dogs (pitties) do the actual catching and holding. Both dogs have high prey drive. But "prey drive" alone does not differentiate between the specific skills we look for in each dog. I am being general, of course.

I know a dog that has killed two small dogs. That dog has high prey drive. The same dog does not mess with cats, however. I know a dog that took down a horse. That dog has high prey drive. I know dogs that will chase at the drop of a dime but do not kill other animals. Those dogs also have high prey drive. So when an owner tells me, "my dog has high prey drive" it is not very useful to me. WHAT the dog actual does is useful.

I think "drive" is a less useful term because it pigeonholes dogs into categories. I DO use the word, very generally. But what a dog is "motivated by", "afraid of", etc. speaks more volumes to me.

Agility, for example. You ask what drive the dog is in. I think a better question is, what is the dog working for? Some dogs with zero prey drive can do great in agility because they love food and they are motivated to perform for a food reward. Some dogs perform for a toy reward. Some dogs simply love the work (the drive to please the owner, so to speak), some just love to move.

I do think drive is largely genetic but can be changed. Absolutely, without a doubt.
There is a really cool video of a ball-obsessed border collie that learns to take food rewards through association with the ball. Previously, I think you can imagine that the dog wouldn't even look at food when a ball is present (and they show the dog refusing hot dogs). I don't think that dog will ever love food as much as it loves the ball. But it looks like they trained it to a degree where the food is then useful in training. Pretty cool stuff. The whole principle of Fenzi's engagement exercises is to associate the handler with all other fun things in life. Dogs with no "pack drive" can certainly learn to focus on their people without bribery; it will just take longer. And humans are another great example... We've all be trained to work so freakin hard for flimsy pieces of paper. We'll kill for money, we'll sell our souls and bodies for money... THAT'S drive, don't you think? (or my preferred word, motivation). Yet, it's all association. Pairing of a primary reinforcer to a neutral stimulus until it becomes a secondary reinforcer.
 

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Yep. What Canxy said.

The important thing for me with drive is basically desire with a focus. A lot of people will call a really frantic, wild, off the wall dog a high drive dog - but if all that energy isn't being directed toward *getting something* they really want it isn't drive. It's just a hyperactive dog. Conversely, a lot of dogs who are very, very high drive are not particularly frantic or wild - focused and intense and determined, but not displaying signs of a lot of wasted energy.

As for the rest:

It all breaks down and frankly anything the dog wants, that is within your ability to control, is drive that will work for you, can be used to transfer value (and build 'drive' for) other things.

My smallest/most experienced agility dog? Loooow drive for anything but food, initially. Totally crazy about agility now. What's she working for now? Agility. I had an argument once that all dogs are ultimately working for something else, not agility itself. I was wrong. Value has transferred there, so firmly, that even for her - who had little chase or play drive - that I've forgotten treats, or forgotten to reward and she's still vibrating with desire to get back out there. That reward history is built on food, because that's the drive she had. She also now has a lot of play drive - also built on food drive - to the degree that I can use toys as primary rewards. (Still no prey drive. Cuddles up to rabbits, gets chased by deer and chickens, politely sniffs and ignores rodents - it's ridiculous)

And yes, prey-drive can and should be broken down further. My BC and BC X love to chase things. They don't kill, even if they catch - don't even try to; there's no biting or teeth. They even back off, mostly, so it will run again and then resume the chase. That's the drive for them - not the catching or killing. They're also totally toy nuts (unsurprisingly). My now deceased rat terrier? Chased, yeah, but he did it so he could kill the thing. Could not have cared less about most toys but enjoyed disemboweling squeaky things.

And 'pack drive' for me is just either biddability or handler focus. It is a drive, in as much as it's a fundamental desire with a focus, but for me it's kind of just a personality trait and thing that is. You can build it or lessen it just like all the rest, but for me it's very much a background thing that is. It's not useful as a reward, it's not a distraction. It does make training easier, but mostly - well, like I said, it just is.
 

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There is a really cool video of a ball-obsessed border collie that learns to take food rewards through association with the ball. Previously, I think you can imagine that the dog wouldn't even look at food when a ball is present (and they show the dog refusing hot dogs). I don't think that dog will ever love food as much as it loves the ball. But it looks like they trained it to a degree where the food is then useful in training..
Yep. This is what I meant with Kylie only backwards.

She had no toy drive beyond being a young puppy - didn't care at all. I taught her a retrieve with a food filled bottle. Fed her treats from it, then added distance. Then added other toys. At this point I can reward with toys. The toy drive is 200% based on food drive. It's neat stuff.
 

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Oh and since I'm spamming:

"What drive is an agility dog in" depends enormously on the dog and the training and the point in the training. It also depends enormously on if you make me buy some half-baked definition of drive or just go with 'thing a dog desires enough to throw itself off a cliff for'.

Ultimately the really simple explanation is 'play' and if you insist on calling pack drive a thing, some of that. They're usually working for food or toys - at high energy and excitement and desire for those things. But reward quickly transfers value to the activity itself.

So the dog is running for... the joy of movement and running the course. They have a conditioned emotional response to it -and that conditioned emotional response is "HECK YEAH LET ME AT IT LET's GO!" Well, some (a lot of) dogs. There are dogs who are doing basically 'obedience agility' working for the treat at the end or because their handler said so - more common in green dogs and green handlers. Mostly and ideally? The drive (desire) is for the activity itself.
 

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Hmmm...this is really interesting to see how people interpret " drive ". In my own little head I tend to think of drive as I guess the intensity of the desire to do something/have something, and I think of threshold as the point where that drive kicks in. One of my old bullmastiff females was pretty intense when she decided to chase something, and she was after a kill when she did, usually would eat what she caught.....but she it wasnt like she was always looking to go after something at the drop of a hat. I tended to think of her as high prey drive due to the intensity, but higher in threshold. The dog I have now is low threshold on prey, and has intensity but doesnt go for the kill, which is more than fine by me at this point in my life!
 

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Threshold for me is about arousal, not drive/desire. Threshold = Point at which the dog loses it's ability to think/be responsive. That can be kicked off by drive/desire for something, but can also not. Lots and lots of dogs are plenty thoughtful/responsive when 'in drive', even extremely high drive. Which is useful given how often the thing they have drive for is used in training.
 

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@capnjack your thoughts on threshold are interesting.....I never really thought of it as being the point where they cant think clearly.....I guess I should have though after reading so much about severely reactive dogs.
More than one type of threshold perhaps?
That same bullmastiff wasnt an aggressive dog per say, but there were limits to what she'd take of coarse.....we have alot of loose dogs in the area, and we have pet miniature goats and chickens, so one of our dogs jobs are to drive off other animals. Point being please dont take what I'm about to say as bragging or some such.....that bmastiff would actively challenge another dog, but she wouldnt just outright attack right off the bat. But if the other dog didnt respect what she was trying to get across she'd do her job and fight. When she finally decided to fight, we learned early on she would fight to kill. She was a no nonsense dog, and would go for the belly. Why I bring this up, is that I thought of her as being pushed over her threshold when she finally did fight....but she wasnt out of her head when she did. She was what I thought as being clear headed. I could grab her collar to pull her off, she wasnt a thrashing mess, she wasnt so worked up that she'd turn around and redirect onto me. She was calm about it in a way. Had one time the offending dog didnt leave the property when I pulled her off. I walked towards the other dog to finish running it off, she just calmly trotted past me, not running but trotting, cornered the dog against a section of fencing and very calmy and deliberately layed into the dog again. She knew she was big and powerful and knew how to throw her weight around. I guess what I'm asking is if being over threshold means unable to think clearly, then when she went into fight mode, was there no crossing of a threshold involved at that point?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Canyx said:
"Prey drive" is general. Within prey drive there are so many factors and variables. In general, prey drive stems from hunting instinct. Wolves do the whole sequence: track, chase, bite, kill, consume. But selective breeding has made certain traits stronger or weaker. For example, hounds have prey drive but they excel most at the tracking portion. Terriers are good at the fighting/killing portion. Herders are good at the chasing and out-maneuvering portion. This is also why they have different dogs (hounds and houlas) track boar and hold them at bay, and different dogs (pitties) do the actual catching and holding. Both dogs have high prey drive. But "prey drive" alone does not differentiate between the specific skills we look for in each dog. I am being general, of course.
The person I learned about Drives from (now deceased so I will use his name was Donn Yarnall) actually would have talked about this differently. Prey drive is the desire to chase mostly on sight. Tracking is actually a different drive called hunt drive and to satisfy that drive at the end of a track the dog wants to have the prey item and tear it up. In fact, for drug training he found the dog became more reliable if the smell the dog hunted was in a container that could be sacrificed at the end of the hunt to satisfy the hunt drive by the tearing up business so he put the scent item in a cardboard tube the dog could tear apart. All of this he put into "hunt drive and drive satisfaction." The killing and ripping up of the prey item, especially if the prey item fights back is part of fight drive. Herding dogs have high prey drive but have been bred to find drive satisfaction is the chase but not in the end kill that would be more natural of a wild dog. This is what makes a discussion of drives so interesting to me. Drive alone should NEVER be generalized. In fact, doing so is the ruination of protection training in my sport. High prey drive is desirable but not at the loss of other drives. This is why it is such a complex subject.

I want a dog with Balanced drives. I parroted that for YEARS not knowing what it truly meant. Then I got a dog that has high defense coupled with high fight and a HUGE hunt drive but is a bit low in prey drive. The result is there are times when she does not have enough drive to carry her through her discomfort in some situations.

I now have a young dog that seems to have not only a LOT of drive but Balanced drives and as we start this training journey I am finding it both refreshing and a bit scary because I think we could go places if this [email protected]$$ at the end of the leash could learn, respond and be a better handler and be better at reading my dog and his drives at any given moment in training. I am sure my dog just wonders if I will ever be trained to do ANYTHING.
 

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@capnjack your thoughts on threshold are interesting.....I never really thought of it as being the point where they cant think clearly.....I guess I should have though after reading so much about severely reactive dogs.
More than one type of threshold perhaps?
That same bullmastiff wasnt an aggressive dog per say, but there were limits to what she'd take of coarse.....we have alot of loose dogs in the area, and we have pet miniature goats and chickens, so one of our dogs jobs are to drive off other animals. Point being please dont take what I'm about to say as bragging or some such.....that bmastiff would actively challenge another dog, but she wouldnt just outright attack right off the bat. But if the other dog didnt respect what she was trying to get across she'd do her job and fight. When she finally decided to fight, we learned early on she would fight to kill. She was a no nonsense dog, and would go for the belly. Why I bring this up, is that I thought of her as being pushed over her threshold when she finally did fight....but she wasnt out of her head when she did. She was what I thought as being clear headed. I could grab her collar to pull her off, she wasnt a thrashing mess, she wasnt so worked up that she'd turn around and redirect onto me. She was calm about it in a way. Had one time the offending dog didnt leave the property when I pulled her off. I walked towards the other dog to finish running it off, she just calmly trotted past me, not running but trotting, cornered the dog against a section of fencing and very calmy and deliberately layed into the dog again. She knew she was big and powerful and knew how to throw her weight around. I guess what I'm asking is if being over threshold means unable to think clearly, then when she went into fight mode, was there no crossing of a threshold involved at that point?
I wouldn't call that being over threshold in the sense that I consider it over threshold. I wouldn't even necessarily consider it drive. I would consider it a dog doing it's job, who knew what the job was and was going to do it. In truth I have a GSD Pyr mix and he's very like this. Clear headed, even keeled, but protective. He'll give warnings, he'll escalate deliberately, but it's not that he has a desire to fight anything or anyone. He just... is doing his job. The desire is to make them go away and stop being a threat. If aggression were required for that - like active engagement - he'd do so, but I don't think he gets an... emotional pay off from escalation. It's just the necessary action to get the problem gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
..The important thing for me with drive is basically desire with a focus. A lot of people will call a really frantic, wild, off the wall dog a high drive dog - but if all that energy isn't being directed toward *getting something* they really want it isn't drive. It's just a hyperactive dog. Conversely, a lot of dogs who are very, very high drive are not particularly frantic or wild - focused and intense and determined, but not displaying signs of a lot of wasted energy.
Actually this is where I see NERVE coming in. A frantic, off the wall dog is very often NOT all drive but drive mixed with nerve. A little nerve is good as it can bring an energy to a high drive dog for a flashier performance but it has to be not a lot of nerve. I have seen these dogs.. off the wall and frantic to GO GO GO and most of the time (not ALL of the time) these dogs are also "nerve bags." They actually are frantic from nerve and a LOT of people say the dog's drive is "over the top." It can also be an exhibition of unbalanced drive. The worst I have seen are nervy dogs with a good dose of prey drive that seems to drive all other things (like thinking) from their heads. These dogs are frantic and are in conflict.. they are not really clear in the head.

As for the rest:

It all breaks down and frankly anything the dog wants, that is within your ability to control, is drive that will work for you, can be used to transfer value (and build 'drive' for) other things.

My smallest/most experienced agility dog? Loooow drive for anything but food, initially. Totally crazy about agility now. What's she working for now? Agility. I had an argument once that all dogs are ultimately working for something else, not agility itself. I was wrong. Value has transferred there, so firmly, that even for her - who had little chase or play drive - that I've forgotten treats, or forgotten to reward and she's still vibrating with desire to get back out there. That reward history is built on food, because that's the drive she had. She also now has a lot of play drive - also built on food drive - to the degree that I can use toys as primary rewards. (Still no prey drive. Cuddles up to rabbits, gets chased by deer and chickens, politely sniffs and ignores rodents - it's ridiculous)

And yes, prey-drive can and should be broken down further. My BC and BC X love to chase things. They don't kill, even if they catch - don't even try to; there's no biting or teeth. They even back off, mostly, so it will run again and then resume the chase. That's the drive for them - not the catching or killing. They're also totally toy nuts (unsurprisingly). My now deceased rat terrier? Chased, yeah, but he did it so he could kill the thing. Could not have cared less about most toys but enjoyed disemboweling squeaky things.

And 'pack drive' for me is just either biddability or handler focus. It is a drive, in as much as it's a fundamental desire with a focus, but for me it's kind of just a personality trait and thing that is. You can build it or lessen it just like all the rest, but for me it's very much a background thing that is. It's not useful as a reward, it's not a distraction. It does make training easier, but mostly - well, like I said, it just is.
Ah.. pack drive. Now this is interesting. A dog with high pack drive wants to partner with you and is much easier to obtain biddability from. Going back to my titled female. I have to earn every last thing from her. She loves tracking because, along with high hunt drive she has lower pack drive. At the end of that 33 foot line she is on her own and has no need for me and her hunt drive carries the day. In Obedience she works and needs something in it for her. Her prey drive is not that high and her pack drive is not that high but her desire to keep ME from having the ball is high and so.. that is what she works for. She works to earn that ball and then to keep it just out of my reach (but she will platz and out it.. and so that is what I ask with 50% of the time her outing the ball resulting in my kicking it so it keeps it fun and I don't always take it and resume work). She is a LOT of work. In protection, she is supposed to partner with me in the back transport. She usually forgets I am there and does the back transport ahead of me on her own with no cares given to me being on the field. Oh yes.. we train and do things to make staying with me more rewarding than going off on her own but we are fighting genetics so success is a lot of work.

Oh and since I'm spamming:

"What drive is an agility dog in" depends enormously on the dog and the training and the point in the training. It also depends enormously on if you make me buy some half-baked definition of drive or just go with 'thing a dog desires enough to throw itself off a cliff for'.

Ultimately the really simple explanation is 'play' and if you insist on calling pack drive a thing, some of that. They're usually working for food or toys - at high energy and excitement and desire for those things. But reward quickly transfers value to the activity itself.

So the dog is running for... the joy of movement and running the course. They have a conditioned emotional response to it -and that conditioned emotional response is "HECK YEAH LET ME AT IT LET's GO!" Well, some (a lot of) dogs. There are dogs who are doing basically 'obedience agility' working for the treat at the end or because their handler said so - more common in green dogs and green handlers. Mostly and ideally? The drive (desire) is for the activity itself.
So what you are saying is the activity is best displayed in a dog that finds it self rewarding to be on the course. Again, I can see my one dog doing this and LOVING it because she loves to run, loves to be on things, over things and through things. However, without biddability she would do a course very fast, very obstacle accurate and totally ignoring any handler direction as to sequence of obstacles because, in her true fashion, it is really all about her and what she thinks and any handler is merely a means to get her what she wants. I will add that she is the happiest dog ever but she is a bit naughty and needs that to be happy and needs that to be good at what I have her doing. I tried giving her more structure (not Positive Punishment.. simply more consistent obedience everywhere in her life with nothing in life for free) and it squeezed the joy juice right out of her. I prefer the joy juice.
 

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@3gsd4ipo
" I tried giving her more structure (not Positive Punishment.. simply more consistent obedience everywhere in her life with nothing in life for free) and it squeezed the joy juice right out of her. I prefer the joy juice."

This was interesting to me. The exact opposite of my current dog. I do NILIF with all my dogs, its how I raise them in general, been doing it that way since before I ever heard the term NILIF. The dog I have now seems to really thrive on this sort of lifestyle. I mean, he loves to do things for me, I swear he'd be dissapointed if he didnt get to work for his stuff. In his case it doesnt seem to be so much an obedience/all good things come from me sort of thing, but seems to give him more...sense of purpose and fulfilment in his life.? Lol did that make sense? I could be reading it all wrong, but I dont .....think so. Its amazing the differences between dogs of the same breed....well in gsds sort of the same breed anyway!

@capnjack
You have an interesting take on the bmastiff/pyr x gsd doing their jobs. I agree that the dogs are doing their jobs and know it, but if we say that drive is what motivates a dog to do what it does, how do we have dogs who are motivated to do their jobs without drive being involved? I guess I'm thinking of it in terms of the drive to do their jobs..... I want to figure this one out alittle more since it directly pertains to how I live and what my animals do.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@capnjack your thoughts on threshold are interesting.....I never really thought of it as being the point where they cant think clearly.....I guess I should have though after reading so much about severely reactive dogs.
More than one type of threshold perhaps?
That same bullmastiff wasnt an aggressive dog per say, but there were limits to what she'd take of coarse.....we have alot of loose dogs in the area, and we have pet miniature goats and chickens, so one of our dogs jobs are to drive off other animals. Point being please dont take what I'm about to say as bragging or some such.....that bmastiff would actively challenge another dog, but she wouldnt just outright attack right off the bat. But if the other dog didnt respect what she was trying to get across she'd do her job and fight. When she finally decided to fight, we learned early on she would fight to kill. She was a no nonsense dog, and would go for the belly. Why I bring this up, is that I thought of her as being pushed over her threshold when she finally did fight....but she wasnt out of her head when she did. She was what I thought as being clear headed. I could grab her collar to pull her off, she wasnt a thrashing mess, she wasnt so worked up that she'd turn around and redirect onto me. She was calm about it in a way. Had one time the offending dog didnt leave the property when I pulled her off. I walked towards the other dog to finish running it off, she just calmly trotted past me, not running but trotting, cornered the dog against a section of fencing and very calmy and deliberately layed into the dog again. She knew she was big and powerful and knew how to throw her weight around. I guess what I'm asking is if being over threshold means unable to think clearly, then when she went into fight mode, was there no crossing of a threshold involved at that point?
I wouldn't call that being over threshold in the sense that I consider it over threshold. I wouldn't even necessarily consider it drive. I would consider it a dog doing it's job, who knew what the job was and was going to do it. In truth I have a GSD Pyr mix and he's very like this. Clear headed, even keeled, but protective. He'll give warnings, he'll escalate deliberately, but it's not that he has a desire to fight anything or anyone. He just... is doing his job. The desire is to make them go away and stop being a threat. If aggression were required for that - like active engagement - he'd do so, but I don't think he gets an... emotional pay off from escalation. It's just the necessary action to get the problem gone.
I would call this defense drive not over threshold. A dog over threshold ceases to engage it's brain and is just reacting.
Both these dogs (and I am guessing here because I cannot see them) seem to be exhibiting defense drive along with fight drive if, once started the dog will finish it. The defense drive is because the dog is not seeking the fight. The fight drive is finishing what someone else started. IF the dog had a true emotional pay off escalation, the dog would seek a fight.

Interesting to me is this (from Capt Jack).
The desire is to make them go away and stop being a threat. If aggression were required for that - like active engagement - he'd do so, but I don't think he gets an... emotional pay off from escalation. It's just the necessary action to get the problem gone.
The DOG here is using positive punishment to 'fix' a situation with another dog. Just a thing to be noticed.
 

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I think you're somewhat over-complicating things. A layperson with no "understanding of drives" can paint to me what their dog is like if they know how to read body language and they know what motivates, and what scares, their dog. Even your first paragraph in your first post, reading it makes me feel like dogs can be described like a balanced equation. I envision one of those stats charts from the Pokemon guide books.

"My dog barks at people when they walk by. He seems a bit wary. He's never bitten anyone, but has lunged and snapped at a kid's face when cornered. He loves to chase things and brought back a dead squirrel once. When we're outside, his nose is to the ground and I don't let him off leash because he won't come when called and I have a hard time getting him back. He loooooooves food and he'll only listen if I have food. He loves playing tug (doesn't fetch) but only inside."

You might want to sort this dog into a graph of high drives and low drives, and nerves and whatever. But for me, this would be enough information to just start working with the dog. And variables are fluid. Food motivation can be used in a more deliberate way. Toy motivation can be increased if desired. Dog has some bite inhibition - does not want to cause damage.... So on and so forth. I am still simplifying things a bit.

I don't care what "they" (IPO people, agility people, etc.) call this and that. A 'personality profile' does not help with behavior modification. Only objective descriptions of how a dog is behaving will help. Dog likes to track but not kill. Fine. Dog will engage and fight if provoked but generally loves dogs. Good information. Dog is very reactive and nervous, shows little calming signals and goes straight to lunging and snapping. Good to know, and the word "nervy" is not helpful.

Again, I'm not disagreeing. I just think the whole bag of "drives" is a self serving conversation. I think for some people, it conveys the information they need. I think for some people, they like the word and the jargon attached because it seems [email protected]$$ like "check it out my dog has YUUUUUUGEE fight drive."

You write: "I want a dog with Balanced drives. I parroted that for YEARS not knowing what it truly meant. Then I got a dog that has high defense coupled with high fight and a HUGE hunt drive but is a bit low in prey drive. The result is there are times when she does not have enough drive to carry her through her discomfort in some situations. "

And this conveys no information to me about your dog whatsoever. You might use that to say I am uneducated in this topic. Or maybe, if more objective and general terms were used I could better see your dog in my mind. I have a feeling if I observed your dog (or any dog) I could determine what motivates her and what pushes her buttons, so to speak. But again, with this set of definitions being very 'exclusive'.
 

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Dexter 01 said
This was interesting to me. The exact opposite of my current dog. I do NILIF with all my dogs, its how I raise them in general, been doing it that way since before I ever heard the term NILIF. The dog I have now seems to really thrive on this sort of lifestyle. I mean, he loves to do things for me, I swear he'd be dissapointed if he didnt get to work for his stuff. In his case it doesnt seem to be so much an obedience/all good things come from me sort of thing, but seems to give him more...sense of purpose and fulfilment in his life.? Lol did that make sense? I could be reading it all wrong, but I dont .....think so. Its amazing the differences between dogs of the same breed....well in gsds sort of the same breed anyway!
In the GSD it is OFTEN a gender thing. Males tend to be more pack driven than females. A female that has GREAT pack drive and who is confident with balanced drives is a female that should be used with a great male to make more GSD's.

My one training partner (7 dogs to National level in UScA) says that it "takes a real dog trainer to title a female all the way to a 3 and an Fh in this sport." I like the compliment but I have a LOOOOONG way to go to be a "real Dog Trainer."
 

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I think you're somewhat over-complicating things. A layperson with no "understanding of drives" can paint to me what their dog is like if they know how to read body language and they know what motivates, and what scares, their dog. Even your first paragraph in your first post, reading it makes me feel like dogs can be described like a balanced equation. I envision one of those stats charts from the Pokemon guide books.

"My dog barks at people when they walk by. He seems a bit wary. He's never bitten anyone, but has lunged and snapped at a kid's face when cornered. He loves to chase things and brought back a dead squirrel once. When we're outside, his nose is to the ground and I don't let him off leash because he won't come when called and I have a hard time getting him back. He loooooooves food and he'll only listen if I have food. He loves playing tug (doesn't fetch) but only inside."

You might want to sort this dog into a graph of high drives and low drives, and nerves and whatever. But for me, this would be enough information to just start working with the dog. And variables are fluid. Food motivation can be used in a more deliberate way. Toy motivation can be increased if desired. Dog has some bite inhibition - does not want to cause damage.... So on and so forth. I am still simplifying things a bit.

I don't care what "they" (IPO people, agility people, etc.) call this and that. A 'personality profile' does not help with behavior modification. Only objective descriptions of how a dog is behaving will help. Dog likes to track but not kill. Fine. Dog will engage and fight if provoked but generally loves dogs. Good information. Dog is very reactive and nervous, shows little calming signals and goes straight to lunging and snapping. Good to know, and the word "nervy" is not helpful.

Again, I'm not disagreeing. I just think the whole bag of "drives" is a self serving conversation. I think for some people, it conveys the information they need. I think for some people, they like the word and the jargon attached because it seems [email protected]$$ like "check it out my dog has YUUUUUUGEE fight drive."

You write: "I want a dog with Balanced drives. I parroted that for YEARS not knowing what it truly meant. Then I got a dog that has high defense coupled with high fight and a HUGE hunt drive but is a bit low in prey drive. The result is there are times when she does not have enough drive to carry her through her discomfort in some situations. "

And this conveys no information to me about your dog whatsoever. You might use that to say I am uneducated in this topic. Or maybe, if more objective and general terms were used I could better see your dog in my mind. I have a feeling if I observed your dog (or any dog) I could determine what motivates her and what pushes her buttons, so to speak. But again, with this set of definitions being very 'exclusive'.
Well, what you are saying is you train the dog in front of you. Of course!
I wish you could be in our working dog club and listen to what is said by the much more experienced people there. What I said about my dog would be much more clear watching her on the field. The written word has its limitations.... as do most dogs!

The point of my one dog is there must be something in it for her.
Her weaknesses are exacerbated by lower prey drive than I like on the protection field. With MORE prey drive she would carry through those weaknesses and look better. Other parts, her strong drives take over and she looks GREAT.

IPO protection tests ALL the drives a dog has (or is supposed to). The balance (or lack) and the amount of drive shows up in this phase very clearly and this is why it was originated as a breeding suitability test for the German Shepherd Dog.
 
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