I hear people mention how often competitors want very high drive dogs. The dogs are easy to get to do the numbers of repetitions for learning. They are always are willing to go and do also.
When is this a problem? I have heard cautions not to get the dog "too high" in obedience or protection.
But, then again, I have heard that with good nerve strength very high drive is not a problem. The terms of clear mindedness and clarity come into these conversations, and we aren't talking Zen. Problems with drive "leakage" and vocalizing also come up in this topic.
What is going on when people say a dog is overloaded? How do you approach working with a dog that tends to amp up easily in obedience? Does maturity affect a dog's ability to "handle" its drive?
I am looking forward to reading the responses to this topic. It really hits home for me. I have been reading, learning, and living this for almost a year now. I can share with you what I have learned so far.
Bison has high prey drive with low thresholds. In other words, it is REALLY easy to get him into drive. (Even just giving him a "look") Most of this is my fault because I didn't know how to train him, but I have read that part could be genetic as well. He is 4 years old and hasn't out grown it. He is improving since we started training for SchH.
As for Training approaches, here are some things that I have had success with...
1. Focus on capping behaviors at home-
Zero reward for anything while leaking drive. Example: I don't open the door for potty if he is whining, barking or jumping around.
2. Desensitize training toys-
I noticed that just the second he saw his training tug, he would be overloaded. I bought an identical tug that I let him carry around the house. Now the tug isn't TOO rewarding.
3. Allow him to hold the tug to channel his energy-
and have the reward be the interaction. This was really the turning point to several months of frustration. I'm am already able to start phasing this out.
4. Finally, and most important, we enrolled in an indoor obedience class with lots of distractions and off leash work
. The "class" is really an opportunity for advanced OB practice. Doing this week after week after week has helped him focus so much better and keep his drive in check.
We still have a long way to go, and I am sure because I didn't give him a good foundation that some of it will never be corrected, but I am happy with improvement and he is still a super fantastic dog. (Not bias at all.