So there has been a lot of discussion on here about dogs with an abundance of prey drive or "prey monkeys".
This brings to mind a question? If the prey drive is coupled with a strong nerve base is this really such a bad thing?
What brings this to mind is discussion elsewhere in which Mike Suttle showed some video of dogs he was testing. In most cases the dogs showed no defence/civil aggression despite taking enormous amounts of pressure while on the bite. Infact they clearly remain in an elevated state of drive.
He also mentioned that he noticed the dogs that tended to be higher on the defensive/civil end of the spectrum tended to ultimately fall apart when truly pressured.
He characterized these dogs as social, possessive, high object drive and strong nerves.
If you watch the vids the dogs are what many would call prey monkeys, high pitched barking/screaming, lightning fast entries followed by intense biting behaviors. No growling, shifting on the bite, just a dog biting in prey and fighting well on the bite.
I have 3 such dogs at my local club all males. 2 are littermates very strong nerves great biting behavior the 3rd is a 4 yr old male sch3 also strong nerves and biting behavior.
I have seen all these dogs take pressure that most would cringe at and nothing fazes them or removes their desire to bite. The challenge faced by their IPO handlers is that nothing fazes the dogs at all, thus creating the strong deep barking and the "serious" appearance in protection is difficult.
Yet the dogs will bite you no doubt about that.
The 4 yr old male loses points for his high pitched barking keeping him in the 280s. There have been offers made for the younger males by local PDs so they may be headed towards a real work situation if the handlers decide to sell.
So perhaps the perception on here that "preymonkeys" or whatever you want to call them are useless for work needs to be revisited.
Prey drive dogs are really where it's at IMO. I prefer them to bite with a "no way I'm coming off this edge." I don't think dogs should be worked in defense unless they're lacking that edge and need it to send them over the top towards becoming truly great. Otherwise you're somewhat running a risk of creating a potential time bomb dog that decides to snap to relieve perceived pressure. Being able to easily push a dog into defense is IMO a fault on the part of the dog. Should qualify I'm talking about sport dogs btw.
For sport dogs, a prey monster will exhibit the awesome behaviors for sport. You can train them to show more aggression through prey behavior even. But in terms of what I personally want, I would rather have the dog bark at the man than at the sleeve. When the helper throws the sleeve to the ground and steps away from it, I want my dog to follow the man and not just stare at the dead sleeve on the ground and bark. Especially in IPO, I would much rather have my dog show active aggression in the blind while barking than a squeaky high pitched prey bark. It's just my own personal preference. Maybe because my female is small and a prey monster herself, but is pretty balanced with some good aggression too. And I'd rather see her be able to work confidently in her aggression where she should than revert to prey.
I think a lot of people would be surprised at what their dog would do when the helper teases them in prey, then tosses the sleeve across the field. Watch how many of those dogs will turn their back to the helper and continue to bark at that sleeve. Yes, there are some dogs that will stay barking at the helper and bite whatever is presented, but I think more often than not, the handler will be surprised by the dogs reaction.
Sleeve chasing has more to do with training than what drive the dog bites in. You can have dogs give live bites out of prey easily. You can have them manhunt out of prey easily. Some wont necessarily have the drive edge or experience to stick it out in a real brawl but the good ones do.
Nailed it! I'm seeing very little active aggression in the IPO dogs. You're example with throwing the sleeve is a good one. We did this recently to a dog. The dog kept barking at the sleeve while the helper walked clear around and started tapping the handler on the shoulder. Where was the dog? Fixated on the sleeve.
The high pitched prey bark, can also be a training issue. Puppies get started at 8 weeks with rag work/ flirt pole then worked all the way through. They never get a chance to mature and develop any other drives. People tend to not wait until dogs are older anymore before bringing puppies out. So all they learn is this prey bark. The trend also seems to be only working puppies/young dogs in prey. I prefer a balanced approach. A good dog can be brought up developing more than just prey drive.
mycobraracr~ you seem to have a good head on your shoulder when it comes to working dogs..
Just wanted to say this.. The fixated on the sleeve can also be a training issue.. especially when the dogs are taught that at a young age!
It's very often a training issue and it's not that I care a whole lot. The standard has ranges, physical and mental. A strong prey dog with good thresholds and nerves can be every bit as important to the breed as one that isn't. But as they say, "prey bites don't hurt" :) you hear the bad guys say that all the time. LOL
People can talk about "the old days" when dogs weren't worked young and there was more pressure and the picture on trial day was a lot different in terms of how the dog looked, as it should have been.
Today?? there is a lot more precision, and people can say what they want about the dogs back then, i they looked so strong and "hard" and on "edge" because that's the way people trained and you could get away with it. I don't however think the best back then were much different than the best today other than the way they were trained.
My dog needs to be active in the blind. I'd prefer good aggressive barking. Now give me a helper within 5 hours drive I can work with to maintain that over 4-6 years of trialing :) I find out about dogs in training. When it's learned to have control and aggression in a blind and I can walk it around and into a corner and then come down on it hard, how does it respond? Now I know about my dog.
How does my dog look after its 5th SchH III trial and years of training and a few thousand hold and barks in a blind?? well if he's any good, he probably knows what's going on by now and his bark wont' be as serious at 7 as it was at 3. Is he less of a dog? or did I just run out of ways to keep his "edge" after 4 years of trialing?
and you can get focus on a man and good barking thru prey with really good dogs. To keep and maintain aggression is a fine line and takes a good dog along with a good helper. For some if they know what their dog is already and they don't have the helper to maintain it, they just use what works. IS the dog less because of it and how it looks on trial day?
Trials are what they are, you can prove your training thru them. I believe I've said it before, you learn about the dogs in training.
ask "If the prey drive is coupled with a strong nerve base is this really such a bad thing?"
answer -- no problem , a dog with a strong nerve base can switch into the other drives without loosing his confidence and may increase in power .
the dog without the strong nerve base who is able to over ride , temporarily , through prey excitement will loose that confidence , back down , run off , or go into that zone out of panic where he appears strong (but isn't) and can not be directed or controlled. In essence the prey monkey goes ape .
further --- the difficulty is to discover whether the high prey is due to high drives , found naturally , and balanced by equally high drive resources in active aggression / fight , and controllability, OR whether the prey drive that you see is a learned behaviour.
question/point " high pitched barking/screaming, lightning fast entries followed by intense biting behaviors"
answer --- that describes the Thuringian , although in extreme --- bet you anything that if you took the pedigree and looked at it this portion of the ancestry of the breed would be abundant -- too much
That screaming can be before there is "action" and noise along the entire exercise -- this is stress , the dog can't cap , is over the top , on the edge of control
question/point "great biting behavior" and "The 4 yr old male loses points for his high pitched barking keeping him in the 280s"
answer ---- there is so much more to a dog than the biting behaviour . I would like judges to access social behaviour more --
and the 4 year old did not just loose 20 points more or less for high pitch barking , the judge (s) saw other behaviour that was concomitant , nerve , loss of focus , something not desirable.
don't know any PDs looking for dogs at the local sports field --- they don't want sleeve training, most prefer no bite work which they will have to undo. Interesting .
I want nothing to do with an all prey dog. That being said, I want very high prey drive, balanced with very high aggression. The nerve strength is needed to keep the aggression under self-control and only used appropriately.
The problem with a dog that works in all prey in real life, is that prey is a blinding, lustful, indulgent state of mind for the dog. They can appear courageous or hard simply because the state of prey blinds them to what is going on. When something negative happens in the real world that is able to pierce that wall of prey drive, the dog suddenly comes out of prey and is forced to work in defensive drives. If the prey monster is never trained in anything but prey, you cannot say much about what its defensive side will look like.
For example, I can train a prey monster to bite someone for real, and get them to do it when its "for real", but if the aggressor were to say... stab the dog in the side with a knife, the immense pain stimuli will knock that prey drive down... if the dog had little defensive/aggression that will likely be a disengagement. The dog with strong aggression will work through the pain stimuli. A dog with ideal aggression will fight *even harder*. You can see the same sort of thing in training when a dog gets jammed, a paw stepped on, a really hard tongue/lip bite and they disengage and are hesitant to re-engage. An ideal PP dog in that scenario will keep engaging
Just my two cents :-)
Since I was part of that discussion on the WDF, I'll add my two cents worth. Regarding the dogs seeing the sleeve instead of the man as prey, part of the original discussion was that this type of dogs was described as having non-classical prey drive, in which, genetically, they tend to see the man as prey and not the equipment. This trait is not related to training or civil aggression. Also, the concept of gameness was discussed, with these dogs showing behavior toward man, similar to what a game bred dog might show toward a dog or another animal. The quality of anger or defensive aggression is not there and the man is the object of the prey drive. Also, the dogs discussed are KNPV Mals and DS's, which could have some bull and terrier blood in them somewhere along the line. The discussion mentioned this type of dog is rare, and IMO, rarer in the GSD. Re: the Thuringian lines, that is an interesting question, as the breeds of Mal, DS, and GSD might have had closer roots 100 years ago.
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