Dog Behavior and Understanding Drive and Perceptions
Pack animals - we’ve all heard the term, let’s look at what it means.
Dogs need to hang out with us, it’s all instinct, a need they must satisfy. In the wild this helps the animals survive. In our homes these “drives” can be useful or disastrous. What makes this difference? Our understanding of the dog, it’s purpose for using a behavior, and how interactions with all environmental factors (humans especially) are being perceived and used by your dog. There are three major drives: Defense, Pack, and Prey Defense These instincts protect dogs when they perceive a threat or when under attack. It forces the animal into running, fighting, or a combination of both. Using this drive is not a way for you to train your pet. Emotionally, use of this drive for training forces a pet to work with you out of fear. That is dangerous and detrimental to a happy relationship. Pack This drive relates to social order, insuring all work needed to survive together gets done. Humans call it “hierarchy.” To pets, these are lateral positions, with no one job more important than any other. Survival depends on this order. This is the drive most used in training. It’s also the area causing the most trouble due to misinterpretation. Leaders are supposed to give the commands and corrections for the group. If a dog is the leader, he can bite you. Discipline is part of it’s job. When used correctly these drives help to ensure calm, confident behavior, emotional stability, and a trust in its human’s guidance. Prey A usable drive - Watch a police officer throw a toy to reward a task well done. The dog is thrilled to “go after” the ball. Back yard games with pets are wonderful times that can be had together! The other side of this drive is dangerous. A dog gets the same thrill no matter what he chooses to chase. (cars, children, other animals). An out of control prey drive can kill. Mauling the catch can follow as the thrill becomes too intense for the pet to control. We address this by not allowing your dog to chase anything...ever. If your dog is allowed to chase a cat, for example they can get so engrossed in the chase they could run in front of a car and get hurt. To have a dog and not properly train them, in my opinion, is detrimental to the dog and their happiness.