Want to see something fun? We put our 5 elements of prey drive blog series post into a super fun format! If you want to use our 5 elements of prey drive blog posts for your daily training, this is the best way to do it!
Click below to access this printable PDF.
-Welcome back to the next installment of our prey drive series!
As you'll recall, first, we talked about the importance of prey drives and how understanding your dog's innate drives can help tremendously in your training. Next, we taught you some of the physical manifestations of prey drives, and how to tell when your dog's prey drive is engaged. Then we furthered the prey drive conversation by giving you some of the different elements of prey drives so that you could classify what particular drives your dog engages in.
Now that you have identified some of the common drives your dog exhibits on a regular basis, what's next? Well, now that you have some of that background information at your disposal, we'd now like to arm you with some actionable next steps.
We'll first give you a brief refresher on what each of the elements of prey drive are and how to identify them within your dog. Next we will give you two different actions - maximizing that drive and then engaging it.
One of the common misconceptions of prey drive is that it is something you should look to 'squash' or eliminate from your dog's behavior. Although there are certain elements and behaviors that you should look to control, that does not mean that you should try to eliminate a dog's drives all together. This is simply not possible. If you do not provide your dog with an outlet for the inherent, intrinsic drives that have been conditioned by long- term breeding, your dog will find an outlet elsewhere - and unfortunately, you'll likely not like the outlet they choose.
Giving your dog a way to maximize and utilize their inherent prey drives allows them an outlet of your choosing. This gives you the control of choosing when prey drives can be engaged and how. Below, we give you some guidance on how to maximize prey drives based on the typical behaviors your dog exhibits.
Next - we look at ways to engage these inherent drives and, SPOILER ALERT, most of them are super fun! These are controlled games that you can play with your dog that will allow them an outlet for their drives that, again, you can control and manage.
By continuing to engage with your dog's inherent drives in a controlled manner, you are not only managing their behavior, but you are also helping them to live more fulfilled, happy lives.
Your dog is constantly looking at ever single passing object. A squirrel, a ball, another dog, anything! Or, whenever you take your dog on a walk, they will get easily distracted sniffing the air or the ground, catching a scent that they feel compelled to follow.
Does this sound like your dog? Find a job that allows your dog to use this skill to their advantage. Dogs who have been trained in search and rescue, or even bomb detection, use this innate drive of "the search" to enable them to complete these difficult tasks.
How to Engage It
Take your dog to an area with visual distractions. Work with them on maintaining eye contact with you even when faced with distractions. Reward their efforts.
Once your dog sees an object of interest - it's over. They get that tunnel vision and their sole focus is on tracking that object. Your dog will hunch down, exert themselves against their leash and pull with all of their might to get to that object.
Sound familiar? Find them a job that allows them to use this skill to their advantage. Breeds like Australian Shepherds have been bred specifically to maximize their ability to "stalk" so they can herd sheep or cattle.
How to Engage It
Hide & Seek! Playing games, like hide & seek, allows your dog to practice their search & stalk skills. This gives your dog a fun job to do while also satisfying their innate drives.
Your dog LOVES to run after anything and everything. Frisbees, balls, cars, you name it, they chase it. They love a good game of fetch and just cannot get enough. They just want to run, run run.
If this sounds like your dog - then find them a job that allows them to use this skill to their advantage. Breeds like Huskies have been used as working dogs throughout history to pull heavy loads of supplies for miles at a time. These dogs use their "chase" drive to sustain this level of intense exercise.
How to Engage It
Engage in activities aimed at simulating "the chase": Using a flirt pole (a long pole, pipe or stick with a rope attached), tie a toy as a lure to the end of the rope. Drag the lure slowly and stop occasionally. The slow pursuit helps your dog learn to focus.
Unlike the dog above, your dog has almost no interest in fetch. They might retrieve the ball and bring it back once or twice, but what they really want is to go and grab that ball or toy and keep it for themselves. You'll find your dog has trouble giving up their toys after they have retrieved them.
Games like fetch are a go-to for many pet owners, but for dogs who are highly motivated by "grab & take down" drives, you might need a better way to engage with your dog. Games like controlled tug of war allow you to engage your dog in an activity they enjoy - while also satisfying these drives. As an added bonus, you can incorporate training exercises into your game by practicing commands like drop it & leave it.
How to Engage It
For dogs that need a bit more engagement, you can incorporate a treat ball into your fetch game. Using a ball that allows you to put treats inside, reward your dog for bringing the ball back to you. When they start to associate the ball with the treat, they will be much more motivated to bring the ball back.
The Take Down
Similarly to the description above, your dog wants to grab that toy and rip it to shreds. They are the ones who are taking their toys and tossing them back and forth in their mouths. They enjoy the act of playing with their prey or toy after they have caught it.
As we said in the description above, games like fetch are a go-to for many pet owners. When you have a dog who seems to get immediately bored, or refuses to give you back the toy after you throw it, it can definitely be a bit frustrating. It might lead you to think that your dog just might not like to play. What you have to remember is that all dogs have different drives and different needs based on their breeding. Although regular fetch might not be a game that engages them, there are ways to take your fetch game to the next level that might capture their interest. Learn more below!
How to Engage It
Play "fetch" with a ball on a string! It seems simple, but it can really add a layer of fun that you wouldn't expect. First, it allows you to maintain a bit of control - they can't take the ball and run, they can only have the ball if you allow them to. Next, it provide an added level of engagement for your dog that will engage their "take down" drive. The "prey-like" movement of having the ball move slowly across the ground will give them that added level of engagement that dogs like them need.
Now that you've seen the five elements of prey drive in action and learned how to maximize and engage them, you are that much closer to creating fun and engaging training for your dog.
Next up - we will share a super fun print out of the 5 Elements of Prey Drive that you will be sure to love!
Missed some of the posts in our Series? No problem! Here are the last few below:
Welcome back to the next installment of our prey drive series!
First, we talked about the importance of prey drives and how understanding your dog's innate drives can help tremendously in your training. Next, we taught you some of the physical manifestations of prey drives, and how to tell when your dog's prey drive is engaged.
Now, it's time for a pop quiz (We know, you didn't come here thinking you'd be taking a quiz, but we promise, this won't be too hard).
Check out this video below. This is one of our Simply Obedient K9 dogs, Mila, a German Shepherd/Belgian Tervuren mix. She is clearly very interested in those unsuspecting geese. But how can you tell her prey drive is engaged? (this is the quiz part).
Now that you've learned about how to spot the physical manifestations of prey drive, this should be a walk in the park (well, unless there are any geese around).
You can see that Mila's eyes are locked on those geese, her ears are perked up and she's sniffing the ground.
But there's even more to it then that! (Sorry, looks like we didn't give you a fair chance to ace that quiz).
Looking at Mila, there are quite a few other visible physical manifestations of her drive that aren't included within the list we had in our last post. She is pulling on her leash, doing everything in her power to get to those geese. It's almost like she has tunnel vision, nothing else around her matters besides getting to the geese.
Keeping this example in mind, we wanted to show you some of the other elements of prey drive that will help tremendously in understanding your dog and his/her behaviors. It will also work wonders in training your dog, because it will help you to create fun and engaging training sessions that are tailored to your dog's inherent drives.
The 5 Elements of Prey Drive
Read through the prey drives listed below - which of these describe your dog?
Do any of those descriptions sound familiar? Your dog may exhibit one or all of these traits, although most dogs have elements of their prey drives that have become more pronounced over time due to selective breeding (ex: think Shepherds for herding).
In our next post in the series, we will take a look at how to use these 5 elements of prey drive for fun, engaging training sessions for your dog.
Missed our first couple of posts in the series? Check them out below:
In our last post, we introduced how learning more about your dog's inherent biological drives can help you to better understand and train your dog.
The first step toward understanding when your dog's prey drive is engaged is knowing how to identify the common physical signs.
So how do you spot typical manifestations of your dog's prey drive? Prey drives start with basic body changes such as:
These six physical signs indicate the onset of prey drive building, and are all things dogs often do to begin hunting (which is the basic foundation of prey drive: to hunt and eat). Since we have domesticated dogs, we often neglect these basic, natural instincts. But, the good news is that once we learn the basics of working with our dog’s prey drives, we can tap into them and use them for training.
And the best part - it will also allow our dogs the time to fulfill their most primal instincts in a healthy, controlled, fun way.
Tune in for part 3 of our Prey Drive Series to learn more about the 5 elements of prey drive!
Prey drive is something we talk about quite a bit in our training method, so we figure an introduction might be in order.
We think that Robert Cabral says it best when he describes prey drives & their impact on not just training your dog, but also understanding them and their behaviors:
Drives are the unconscious, biological impulses that carry out important vital functions. They display in a physical manifestation of the dog's personality and energy. Although inherent, these drives can be compounded by environment with good or bad handling techniques. It is important to recognize drive traits in order to control and develop, or inhibit the manifestations of dangerous or undesirable ones. You cannot properly train or understand a dog without understanding the drives that make him a dog. Without these drives, the dog is merely a stuffed animal that barks and moves.
Over the course of our Prey Drive Series, we plan to give you the ins and outs of understanding your dog's innate drives. We will take a look at how to spot the physical signs that indicate that your dog's prey drive is engaged, what the 6 common prey drive responses are, how to engage your dog in training games that are fun AND a valuable outlet for some of your dog's natural instincts, and a whole lot more.
So stay tuned and subscribe: you'll be on your way to understanding your pet a whole lot better than you did before!