Defense drive

Defense drive is governed by survival and self-preservation and consists of both fight and flight behaviors. Defense drive is complex because the same stimulus that can make a dog aggressive (fight) can elicit avoidance (flight) behaviors, especially in a young dog.

Fight behaviors aren't fully developed until the dog is sexually mature or about 2 years old. You may notice tendencies toward these behaviors at an earlier age, and life experiences determine their intensity. Behaviors associated with fight drive include the following:

i Disapproving of being petted or groomed i Hackling up from the shoulder forward i Growling at people or dogs when he feels his space is being violated i Guarding food, toys, or territory against people and dogs i Lying in front of doorways or cupboards and refusing to move i Putting his head over another dog's shoulder i Standing tall, weight forward on front legs, tail high, and staring at other dogs i Standing his ground and not moving

Flight behaviors demonstrate that the dog is unsure, and young dogs tend to exhibit more flight behaviors than older dogs. The following behaviors are associated with flight drive:

i Demonstrating a general lack of confidence i Disliking being touched by strangers i Flattening of the body with the tail tucked when greeted by people or other dogs i Hackling that goes up the full length of the body, not just at the neck i Hiding or running away from a new situation i Urinating when being greeted by a stranger or the owner

Freezing — not going forward or backward — is interpreted as inhibited flight behavior.

Whoa! Buddy's got his hackles up

Hackles refer to the fur along the dog's spine from the neck to the tip of his tail. When a dog is frightened or unsure, the fur literally stands up and away from his spine. In a young dog, it may happen frequently because the dog's life experiences are minimal. When he meets a new dog, for example, he may be unsure whether or not that dog is friendly, and so his hackles go up. His whiskers are also a good indication of his insecurity; they're pulled back, flat along his face. His ears are pulled back, and his tail is tucked.

And he cringes, lowering his body posture and averting his eyes. All in all, he'd rather be somewhere else.

On the flip side, when the hackles go up only from the neck to the shoulders, the dog is sure of himself. He's the boss, and he's ready to take on all comers. His ears are erect, his whiskers are forward, all his weight is on his front legs, his tail is held high, and he stands tall and makes direct eye contact. He's ready to rumble.

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