springer dog

Prey Drive

Prey Drive is a dogs instinctive behaviour

The dog’s life revolves around a series of instinctive behaviours; prey drive is the one of the most powerful.

All carnivores have an inbuilt ability and need to pursue and capture prey whether they are wild or domestic.In training, prey drive can be used as an advantage because dogs with high prey drive are also willing to pursue moving objects such as toys, which can then be used to encourage certain kinds of behaviour.

The prey drive can be an important component of dog obedience training, Gun dog training and Schutzhund as well. Games can be used such as fetch and tug-of-war to motivator and reward learning in the dog.

In all predators the prey drive follows pattern and is starts with the search, eye-stalking, the chase, the grab bite and finally the kill bite.

In wolves, the prey drive is a complete structured and balanced behaviour. In different domestic breeds of dogs these five steps have been increased or reduced by the human for various purposes.

The search for example has been increased in detection dogs such as bloodhounds and beagles.

a beagle

Eye-stalking is strong in herding dogs such as Border Collies.

The chase is seen clearly in racing dogs, while the grab-bite and kill-bite is a valuable attribute in working terriers.

In many breeds of dog, prey drive is so high that the chance to satisfy the drive is its own reward; external reinforces are not required for dog to perform the behaviour in these cases.

High prey drive can be a disadvantage in some dogs. In working gun dogs, for example, the dog is used to hunt and push the prey then bring it back to the human hunter once killed, not bite or damage it.

Herding dogs must exhibit the stalking and chasing aspects of prey drive, but should have strongly inhibited grab bite and kill bite stages to prevent them wounding stock. Terriers such as the Staffordshire has an amplified grab-bite as they were originally bred for Bull Baiting, but never needed to find or stalk the prey.

Prey drive has been a requirement in working breeds which has allowed the breed to survive but it is undesirable in other breeds such as toy breeds.

All dogs have a predatory nature but it is only by selective breeding that has given certain breeds very low prey drive, which has allowed these dogs to become good companion dogs.

Dogs are happiest and most balanced in overall behaviour when their prey drive is properly stimulated and satisfied through play or work.

© Canine Coaching