Motivating Your Dog

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How Behavior Drives Can Help Motivate Your Dog

Dog Motivation
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In dog training, behavior drives can be defined as the instincts that contribute to making a dog act and react the way he does. Almost everything a dog does (e.g. digging or chasing) can be attributed to a specific behavior drive.

Drives are usually genetic and consistent within a dog breed. Most purebred dogs are bred to enhance certain drives that make them more compliant during animal training or better at their jobs. Educated dog owners who are aware of (or can identify) specific behavior drives can potentially use them to make training sessions more effective and rewarding.

RELATED: How to Train When Your Dog is Not Treat Motivated

Understanding Behavior Drives

One example of a behavior drive is prey drive. Examples of prey drive can be a dog’s willingness to chase and catch an object or play tug-of-war.

A dog who enjoys chasing a ball or toy will be excited if presented with one of these objects as a reward for a job well done during training. If you have a dog with a high prey drive, reward him by throwing his tennis ball during training sessions like after he has done a great “sit-stay.” Throwing a ball instead of giving him a treat is more valuable to him and helps reinforce the desired behavior. Be aware that some dogs have a higher prey drive than others.

When attempting to use a dog’s prey drive for training, it may be necessary to limit exposure to his favorite ball or toy to obedience training sessions only. Remember, a dog with little or no prey drive (i.e. he doesn’t like to play fetch or tug-of-war) will not consider this a reward. Without prey drive, using a toy as a reward may be an exercise in futility.

Why You Should Learn Your Dog’s Behavior Drive

A good reason to understand your dog’s breed’s tendencies is to prevent behavioral problems. For instance, knowing your dog’s breed has a high pack drive and the problems that may typically occur from this type of behavior drive can help better prepare you in preventing possible separation anxiety issues.

In general, doing a little research on your dog’s breed is always a good idea. While other factors like environment and past history will also influence your dog’s behavior, the more you understand your dog, the better off you’ll be as a dog owner in providing for his needs.

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