Dog Behavior Drives

29March 2011

The instincts that make dogs act in the way they do are Behavior Drives.  Good training will manipulate each dog’s drives to get the desired results.  Most anything a dog does can to attributed to one of these behavior drives.  Always consider your dog’s behavior drives in training.

Sociability Drive.

This drive refers to a dog’s natural friendliness and desire for companionship with other dogs and humans.  A dog’s sociability drive falls into one of the following categories:
1)  Overly Social
2)  Neutral
3)  Unsociable
As I have noted many times throughout this blog, properly socializing your dog is vitally important to raising a well-balanced, well-behaved pet.  Depending on your dog’s natural sociability drive, you can may have to take extra time and care in socialization exercises.  Dog’s should always seem relaxed during socialization and allowed to move forward at their own pace.

Food Drive.
This drive refers to a dog’s willingness to take food in exchange for performing a known behavior.  A dog with a high food drive is generally easier to train.  Positive reinforcement training uses food lures and food rewards.

Prey Drive.

This drive is defined as a dog’s eagerness to chase small animals or objects, or to play tug of war.  Dogs with a high prey drive may be offered a toy as a reward during training instead of food.  When training using a dog’s high prey drive, use his favorite toy only during training sessions and then put it away where the dog cannot get to it.  This will keep the favorite toy’s value very high for training.

Play Drive.
This is a dog’s desire to play with people or other dogs.  Although this drive can be used in training, it is generally too distracting to use as a regular reward.

Defense Drive.
This is a dog’s desire to protect himself, his owner, or his territory.  This drive will often surface when using harsh training methods, and typically will manifest as aggression.  You must always be aware of your body posture and movement when dealing with a dog with a high defense drive.  The best training option for a dog with a high defense drive is an operant conditioning program.