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Training in DRIVE!

I’m really only going to touch on the basics of this style of training, it can be very simple but also very in depth so this article is a very basic premise of what training in drive is.

If you would like to find out if your dog would be a good candidate for this style of training, email us. We train this style of training primarily so if you would like to find out more, shoot us an email.

Training in drive has only one limitation, the dogs level if drive. Whilst this can be elevated, dogs with very low drives will not benefit from this type of training.

If your reading this and are uncertain of what drives are, take a look at my article on drives (here)

Whether training an obedience champion, dog to be titled in Schutzhund, personal protection dog, retriever, law enforcement dog or family pet, training a dog in drive can be extremely effective because unlike traditional training which occurs on a conscious level, training in drive utilises the dogs instincts and sub conscious area of the brain. It also helps the dog achieve balance, learn how to relax in many circumstances rather than trying to make everything a more hyperactive state of reality.

When I speak of training in drive, I am not only talking about prey drive and the use of toys, but we can also utilise a dog’s food drive or pack drive to achieve the same results in many cases.

Training in drive isn’t about convincing the dog to love the work, it is utilising its genetic instincts, so we use what the dog has rather than push the dog to like something it may not.

Developing the dogs genetic package into a motivated work ethic makes for a highly reliable motivated dog…

Over many years, dogs presented to some trainers have been labelled too hyperactive and turned away from some styles of training, this is because when the dog has gone into high drive, the training they have completed to date usually goes out the window. I find this to be the case often with trainers who always carry a food pouch and feel that every dog should work for food.

One of the first actions you will see is them holding a piece of food over a dog’s nose trying to get the dog to slow down and focus. The first action in my training in drive program is to speed the dog up! We then deploy that hyped or driven dog into the work.

Other training methods have in the past been able to get compliance of known commands with driven dogs, but this is often through heavy leash corrections that are designed to lower, extinguish or knock the drive out of the dog. Whilst compliance can be gained, the dogs look submissive and the very thing you may have bought your dog for, high drive is only there when the dog is out of control?

So you end up with a dog that carries the signs of correction when working, the lowering of the head, the actions are taking place in slow motion, ears are back and tail tucked. Yes the dog is doing what it has been told, but the picture is far from pleasing.

The other problem you may come across is that when your dog is off leash, he does not want to do anything you tell him, you don’t have the punishment leash on so why should he do what you want him to?

Training in drive is teaching the dog how to “satisfy its drive” by completing a known command.

It is about teaching your dog how to use its energy toward good rather than evil!

It’s about how to teach your dog that a command is an opportunity to earn a reward.

Sounds difficult but in fact you may have already done it to some extent.

Having said that, some people use a drive reward, this is very different to my methods of training.

Ever seen a dog come up and stick a ball in your lap? You throw the ball and the dog retrieves it and places ball in your lap? This is a dog completing quite a complicated move, a retrieve and accurate placing of an object under full drive. This dog has learned how to achieve drive satisfaction through this task.

When dogs begin training, any method, they are re active, meaning, you issue a command and in reaction, the dog complies (hopefully). Training in drive starts off the same but when the dog is accomplished at achieving drive satisfaction, the dog will become active, that means, offering the behaviour. This at some stage will be the beginning of not having to carry a prey item to put the dog into drive.

Here is a very basic exercise, leash your dog that knows a basic sit command. Get out his favourite ball or toy and put some fast movement into it, but don’t let your dog capture (the prey) the toy for a few seconds.

Next whilst playing and the dog is trying to capture the toy, you need to do a couple of things at once, try hard, you’ll manage.

Raise the toy up high and above the dogs head moving it backwards, command sit and pop the leash backwards like your training the sit.

The dog will be crouching looking at the toy, so the sit is easy. The second the dogs butt hits the ground you throw the toy into the ground and let the dog chase and capture it.

Repeat this a few times, don’t overdo it.

Watch how quick your dog sits on command; look at the enthusiasm on your dogs face.

Why can’t your dog be this way all of the time? IT CAN!

Other parts of building reliability into this work are elevating the dogs drive through frustration, teaching more complex commands so that the dog becomes a master of “satisfying his own drive“.

We can teach a number of complicated tasks this way, you don’t get a better heel than one taught through drive. If you have ever watched the world’s top competitors in any dog sport, drive is the key element.

Something else that’s quite valuable is the attention your dog will give you. Ask yourself when you have the least control over your dog;

The answer might be “when a cat runs out in front of him“. This is because the dog has gone into full drive and will not obey commands. A dog trained in drive perceives you as the greatest source of reward, this dog doesn’t have time to chase cats, you have a prey item right there.

Mastering this work captures your dog’s attention when he is in full drive, full excitement, and utilises that energy to complete given commands. The dog works to try and figure out how to get that prey item, and we know that will give compliance of a command.

When this is applied to protection, sport and competition work, the results are nothing less than amazing. If you have a dog that is hyper active, over energetic or troublesome, consider that it could be deficient ion drive satisfaction, it is unlikely that exercise alone will cure your problem.

If you own a dog with prey drive, or a breed known for prey drive, I suggest you seriously consider training in drive.

Email us and ask how we can apply this training to your Pet, Sport, Competition, Personal Protection or Law Enforcement dog.

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5 comments

  1. Which breeds are particularly known for prey drive? I think my dog has a food drive, she gets VERY excited whenever there’s food around, she’s a labrador x rottweiler.

    • All dogs have a degree of prey drive, it is part of their genetic code required to hunt. Some breeds have been genetically modified through selective breeding to increase prey drive. Belgian Malinois are a good example, but I have found prey drive in almost all breeds.

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