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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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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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