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sjackson310 01-02-2013 04:42 PM

Can you "create" drive in a puppy?
Let's say you find a breeder and the sire & dam have good, solid temperaments, but are pretty laid back and relaxed. They have not been used for Sch. but do well in obedience. Now, let's say you took the puppy with the most drive, but it does not have as much drive as a working line pup. Could you, theoretically, make that puppy have more energy/drive if you work with it at 8 weeks and on? I am not sure I'm even using the correct terminology here, but I think the gist of what I am saying is being portrayed lol. If so, how would this be done? Through tug playing?

If not, what could this dog be used for besides Sch, OB, etc? Would a "calmer" dog be good for tracking?

Thanks for any replies, I have just been reading a bunch on genetics and temperaments, and this question just kind of popped up, figured yall would be the best to ask ;)

onyx'girl 01-02-2013 05:26 PM

I don't think you can put drive into a dog, you can build off what they genetically have....and sometimes a puppy that shows little when young will wake up around 10 months and you'll see more. The term sleeper is used for pups like this!
Tug is great for building drive, tease the pup up for a toy and play, ask for commands before rewarding. But some pups aren't into tugging either, too inhibited.

As far as tracking, most pups need food/hunt drive to be successful, if they don't have it, they may not ever be enthusiastic about tracking. A calm demeanor doesn't really play into it as much as the willingness to search with the nose. Though slower, methodical tracking is better than dragging the handler down in a hectic manner.

N Smith 01-02-2013 06:11 PM

You can help a pup reach their "potential" drive through tug work, drive building exercises using food and toy, and endurance training - but if it isn't already there genetically, you can't make it appear.

Kind of like those athletes who were just born to do their sport. Anyone can practice, train, work hard, be committed, but they may never reach the same level as someone who was just born with all the right qualities to do it.

As for the tracking, I want to see a dog with a lot of drive and a CLEAR head on the track, not a "calm" dog just moseying along. But a mid-level drive dog, is perfectly capable of tracking, and some lower prey drive dogs would be good too as long as the food drive is there.

Now, if you want a companion and someone to explore ScH with, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a calmer dog, who is a companion first. Especially if this is your first Shepherd. If you catch the "bug" and need to do sport at a competitive level, you can look for that dog then.

If you know that NOW you need a dog to compete with, I would not go with one from untitled parents. Not saying that a dog from untitled parents couldn't have the drive, but just saying that someone who has gone through the process of training and titling dogs will have a better knowledge of what could qualify as a working puppy, so may be better able to place the correct pup with you.

Also, if the pups haven't been "tested" for drives, then seeing them "off" could be deceiving. When I got my male, I had asked for a competition dog, possible breeding male. When I first saw him, he seemed so "tame" compared to my female when she was his age. I was a little taken aback, as this was a pup the breeder had held back for themselves. So I walked him a bit, did a little bit of VERY basic OB. I asked her if she thought he was TOO CALM for competition, she looked at me like I was crazy (My female, from DDR lines, was incessant as a puppy, needing 4-5 hours a day of exercise and OB, and even then rarely slept). She layed him a food track, and I watched this amazing 4month old pup pulling, digging in and pushing his nose into the ground for that track. Then she grabbed a tug and set up a helper, this dog went from zero to 60 in 1.2 seconds.

So I learned that there are Shepherds with an "off switch" LOL

Either way, he is an AMAZING boy, with a hard, fast grip, EXTREME Object and prey drive, good defense drive, good hunt drive and great endurance....then you tell him to lay down and he will shut off and do his best to impersonate a rug....LOL

Good luck with your new pup!

wildo 01-02-2013 06:18 PM

I think there was a long thread on this in the recent past. I thought it was started by "huntersdad" but I can't seem to locate it. I think he even created a graphic to help show the difference between drive and threshold. That thread had lots of opinions between "creating" drive and "exposing" drive that is already there.

Sorry I can't help more- not sure why the search isn't working right now. I'm usually pretty able to find old threads.

Well, I think there IS another thread that covers this from Hunter, but actually this is the quote I was thinking over anyway:

"This is what many people don't understand (you are not the only one). Good working dogs are motivated by the work. It is genetic."

Kdrees 01-02-2013 06:23 PM

My guy has absolutely no bite drive what so ever, doesn't even like to play tug but he has ton of ball drive. We cant even to get him to bark on command - he just never barks. I have been working on that for over a year.... I worked with him to try to increase the bite drive for a while but it never got any better. Now he is a rescue so we don't know what his lines are but from his body type he appears to be from a working line.

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Freestep 01-02-2013 07:06 PM


Originally Posted by sjackson310 (Post 2669795)
Could you, theoretically, make that puppy have more energy/drive if you work with it at 8 weeks and on?

Sort of.

Drive cannot be "made", but it can be built upon. You take what little the pup has and work with it, develop it through play and training. The flirt pole and the tug are great for building prey drive. I'm not a tracking guru so I am not sure how you would go about building hunt drive, but food drive is sharpened through hunger. Some trainers will have their dogs skip a meal before tracking, or their meal IS the track.

Some lower drive dogs have to be "managed"--it is important not to tire the pup the pup out or push him to the point where he gives up. Less is more when building drive. He should always win... but you should always leave him wanting more.

Some folks with lower drive dogs have to crate them before training to build drive, desire, and frustration. Then hopefully to explode onto the field with a lot of motivation.

lhczth 01-02-2013 09:19 PM

Can drive be created, no, but it can be developed within the dog's genetic capacity. Also, tracking requires drive, a desire to hunt, fight to work through long hard tracks and hardness to work through difficult conditions.

Having said that, laid back and calm does not mean a dog lacks the drive to work any more than a dog that paces and is never calm would indicate a dog that has the right drives to work. Elena is not a crazy drive dog at least not in the way most people think of high drive. She is food crazy, wants to please and has a lot of social aggression so LOVES bitework. She is just now starting to play ball a bit. Hanging with her in the house or just meeting her on the streets you would see her as a low drive, calm pet and not a working dog.

Kdrees, many dogs will not bark for their owners. My best dogs won't. Do you work with a club and a helper? Not all dogs are prey crazy and want to just play a rag/play game with someone. Some dogs still look at bitework as a fight.

martemchik 01-02-2013 10:53 PM

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The thing is also that every one has a different idea what is doing well in obedience. Do you mean they are older dogs that will listen to their owners, or do they do AKC obedience and do trial? For someone new to the working dog game, you really have nothing to compare drive level to. I expect any 3 year old GSD to sit, down, and come when the owner tells it to, especially in it's home. It's where the dog is most comfortable and where it is most likely to be calm because there are no distractions...or possible fear situations.

It is for sure possible to get a dog that has higher drive, or possibly has drive out of the kind of situation you speak of. Have you seen any of the parents go after a tennis ball? Or possibly seen them play together? I they always relaxed, if you get their favorite toy out, how do they react?

But...dogs are very very genetically driven. Many of their skills and abilities are genetically ingrained. Its why a shepherd can herd without being taught, and a pointer will point without any lessons. When it comes to drive...go and see a few'll understand what the difference in inherent drive is. Can puppies with less drive be taught to increase their drive a bit? Sure...but it will never be as high as those puppies that are naturally born with it.

sjackson310 01-03-2013 12:15 AM

Thank you for all the wonderful answers!

So, from what I am reading, a GSD who is "calm" may actually have drive(s) but just be calm in the household? I always considered a drivey dog to be like that one in the video "so you think you want a high drive puppy."

Personally, I wouldn't think I was ready to do Sch. as I've only owned one shepherd. But, I was considering getting a second one with a calm demeanor, who could maybe do SOMETHING outside of just being a pet. I owned an Aussie/GSD mix and he would have been great at agility, but there weren't any agility training areas anywhere near by.

So, if I were to get a puppy, the best way to bring out any potential drive would be tugs, flirt poles, and food (if I tried tracking)?

lhczth 01-03-2013 09:58 AM

Just remember we are giving opinions, but can't really tell you if a pup from the litter you are talking about will have any drive to work without actually seeing the parents. (or a pedigree MIGHT help).

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