Applying drives to your training

By looking at your dog's profile (see the questionnaire earlier in this chapter), you know the training techniques that work best and are in harmony with your dog's drives. You now have the tools to tailor your training program to your dog.

1 Defense (fight) — more than 60: A firm hand doesn't bother your dog much. Correct body posture isn't critical, although incongruent postures on your part can slow down the training. Tone of voice should be firm, but pleasant and nonthreatening.

1 Defense (flight) — more than 60: Your dog won't respond to strong corrections. Correct body posture and a quiet, pleasant tone of voice are critical. Avoid using a harsh tone of voice and any hovering — either leaning over or toward your dog. There's a premium on congruent body postures and gentle handling.

1 Prey — more than 60. Your dog will respond well to a treat or toy during the teaching phase. A firm hand may be necessary, depending on strength of defense drive (fight), to suppress prey drive when in high gear, such as when chasing a cat or spotting a squirrel. This dog is easily motivated, but also easily distracted by motion or moving objects. Signals will mean more to this dog than commands. There's a premium on using body, hands, and leash correctly so as not to confuse the dog.

1 Prey — less than 60. Your dog probably isn't easily motivated by food or other objects, but also isn't easily distracted by or interested in chasing moving objects. Use praise to your advantage in training.

1 Pack — more than 60. This dog responds readily to praise and physical affection. The dog likes to be with you and will respond with little guidance.

1 Pack — less than 60. Start praying. Buddy probably doesn't care whether he's with you or not. He likes to do his own thing and isn't easily motivated. Your only hope is to rely on prey drive in training. Limited pack drive is usually breed-specific for dogs bred to work independently of man.

Dogs with defense drive of less than 60 rarely get into trouble — in fact, they avoid it. Many young dogs without life experience fall into this category, and although their numbers may be quite low as pups, they may vary slightly with age. With such a dog, a straight body posture is more important, and to greet him, you need to squat down — as opposed to bending at the waist — to the dog's level.

If your dog is high in both prey and defense (fight), you may need professional help. He's by no means a bad dog, but you may become exasperated with your lack of success. The dog may simply be too much for you to train on your own. (See Chapter 20 for advice on finding help.)

Dogs that exhibit an overabundance in prey or pack are also easily trained, but you'll have to pay more attention to the strengths of their drives and exploit those behaviors most useful to you in training. You now have the tools to do it!

Here are some other important hints to keep in mind when planning your training strategy:

* If your dog is high in defense (fight), you need to work especially diligently on your leadership exercises and review them frequently (see Chapter 2).

* If your dog is high in prey, you also need to work on these leadership exercises to control him around doorways, moving objects, and similar distractions.

* If your dog is high in both prey and defense (fight), you may need professional help with your training.

Following are the nicknames for a few of the profiles. See if you can recognize your dog.

* The Couch Potato — low prey, low pack, low defense (fight): This dog is difficult to motivate and probably doesn't need extensive training. He needs extra patience if training is attempted because he has few behaviors with which to work. On the plus side, this dog is unlikely to get into trouble, doesn't disturb anyone, makes a good family pet, and doesn't mind being left alone for considerable periods of time.

* The Hunter — high prey, low pack, low defense (flight): This dog gives the appearance of having an extremely short attention span but is perfectly able to concentrate on what he finds interesting. Training requires the channeling of his energy to get him to do what you want. You need patience, because you have to teach the dog through prey drive.

1 The Gas Station Dog — high prey, low pack, high defense (fight): This dog is independent and not easy to live with as a pet. Highly excitable by movement, he may attack anything that comes within range. He doesn't care much about people or dogs and works well as a guard dog. Pack exercises, such as walking on a leash without pulling, need to be built up through his prey drive. This dog is a real challenge.

1 The Runner — high prey, low pack, high defense (flight): Easily startled and/or frightened, this dog needs quiet and reassuring handling. A dog with this profile isn't a good choice for children.

1 The Shadow — low prey, high pack, and low defense (fight): This dog follows you around all day and is unlikely to get into trouble. He likes to be with you and isn't interested in chasing much of anything.

1 Teacher's Pet — medium (50 to 75) prey, pack, and defense (fight):

This dog is easy to train and motivate, and mistakes on your part aren't critical. Teacher's Pet has a nice balance of drives. He's easily motivated and therefore quite easy to train — even when your training skills aren't particularly keen. At our training camps and seminars, we have the owners put the profile of their dogs in graph form for easy reading. Figure 5-4 shows the graph for Teacher's Pet.

Prey Pack Fight Flight

Figure 5-4:

Atypical Teacher's Pet profile.

By now, you've gathered that the easiest dogs are those that are balanced among all drives. No matter what you do, the dog seems to be able to figure out what you want. If you're lucky enough to have such a dog, take good care of him. By applying the principles of drives, he'll be easy to turn into a well-trained pet.

People frequently ask us, "Can you change a dog's drives — either reduce or enhance a particular drive?" There are a few instances where you can enhance a drive through training. For example, after you've taught a dog with few prey behaviors to retrieve, he may be more inclined to participate in fetch games. As a general rule, however, the answer is "No." You see what you get and you get what you see.

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