Throughout my life and professionally for the last ten years I have had the privilege to study domestic dogs and the study of modifying their behaviors. At my facility I see, on average, 30 to 50 dogs per day which I work with in packs to naturally and successfully modify their behavior to better fit into the family pack. Personally, I started my study of dogs through my own ownership and breeding of a pack and bloodline which I have been following through the lifespan. I now have 12 personal dogs (nine from one litter and three outside dogs each from different bloodlines). When I began my personal studies it was out of my desire to discover how domestically bred dogs naturally pack up without any human intervention. I quickly built a clientele that were highly satisfied with the behavior modification that I was able to achieve when using the laws of dog that I had observed and documented in my research. After my 2nd year of professional training (mainly modifying dogs showing dog-on-dog aggression, dog-to-human aggression or both) it really occurred to me that the dog was never the issue, it was the pack or more specifically, the owner-dog relationship that was the issue. My natural approach to behavior modification mimics what a dominant dog does to a sub-dominant in a pack in order to initiate and manage pack harmony.
Dogs are instinctual predators and exist in a hierarchical pack structure for survival. Dogs in the human home are there for survival. The domestic dog in the human home recognizes and interacts with the human counterparts as other dogs. As instinctual predators, all dogs have a prey drive. Prey drive is an instinct and is the source all dog behavior. Predatory or prey drive behavior action is the manifestation of a dog’s prey drive being triggered. That action is what we humans call “aggression”. It is not really “aggression” that you are seeing but really prey drive action sourced from its prey drive instinct that was selectively bred into your dog whether you know it or not. The prey drive behavior actions can be acted out with different frequencies, intensities, and tactical interaction through selective breeding.
The prey or stimulus can be a human, dog, cat, bird, mouse, stick, ball or anything that by sight, sound, smell or taste activates the prey drive action specific to that dog’s selective breeding. The prey or stimulus activates a dog’s prey drive action by demonstrating or showing dominant and or unstable communication. Mating is also prey drive action that is triggered by smell and taste. Deadly prey drive action can also be triggered by the taste of blood. When prey drive action is selectively bred by humans, dogs will perform prey drive actions appropriate for the work it performs. The work can range from, therapy, retrieval, herding, to attacking and killing.
Prey drive is the main reason a dog wakes up every day. Thinking of the dog as a car, its prey drive would be the engine. Just like some cars have big engines and others have small ones, some dogs have high prey drives and some have low prey drives and everything in between. This variance in prey drive levels is achieved through selective breeding. Dogs were traditionally bred and used for work and not for the domestic settings we expose them to today. The work in the dog comes from the dog’s prey drive. The definition of a work dog is a dog with a high prey drive.
When a dog with any level of prey drive is confronted with multiple prey drive triggers at one time, it will select the trigger or stimulus that arouses its prey drive to the highest intensity. Dogs will rank the trigger or stimulus by intensity arousal recall during future pack walks. This is often seen when an owner is on a pack walk with their dog in the woods and the dog sees a deer. This will typically arouse a high intensity prey drive response and will be recalled when the dog is in that part of the woods in the future, but the deer is not. Many dog owners can relate to having witnessed that with their own dogs. Some other attributes that contribute to increasing prey drive frequency and intensity are time of exposure to the trigger or stimulus and proximity of the stimulus to the pack or pack territory.
Dogs typically pack up best with other dogs of like size and prey drive. Unfortunately the main problem for my clients is that they did not understand their dog’s prey drive. So there is often a mismatch form the dog’s perspective and unfortunately soon that mismatch will become apparent to its human owner. This is what sends them out to seek training for their dog. Unless the human owner can match the dog’s frequency and intensity which are attributes of its prey drive when it is triggered, he or she will never have command & control of their dog when exposed to random stimulus both indoors and outdoors.