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It's seems that in almost every thread people talk about there "high drive" dog. I have a really hard time believing that every GSD on this forum is high drive. That is just statistically not possible especially given the different lines these come from. That makes me think that we don't truly have an understanding of drive. Or what it means to have a "high drive" dog. I truly think people confuse energy (which our breed should have lots of), drive, and a dog that is just neurotic. Maybe have a screw that's not tightened all the way. So I was hoping we could discuss some of this.

1) How can you tell the difference between drive, energy and neurotic?
2) What is "drive"?
I lost my train of thought so hopefully this will get us started.
 

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I truly think people confuse energy (which our breed should have lots of), drive, and a dog that is just neurotic
I agree with that^^.

I also think drive/energy/neurotic can mean different things to people.

In Masi, for me, I see high 'play drive', med to low prey drive, alot of energy, (can go all day and keep on going) but not "neurotic" to the point of obsession..

I'm sure others can put it into words better than I:)
 

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I have seen dogs with high ball drive that will go until they drop.
Is that neurotic or drive?
My dog goes until she's panting(but not heavily) and her tongue is hanging only a little.
I consider that low/medium drive and SMART.
 

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All those things are very subjective...

They depend on the person's experience, amount of dogs seen, and mostly the extremes that they have witnessed.

For a while I thought my dog was high drive...I train at a mostly ASL AKC GSDCA club. So of course my working line boy had more drive than many of the dogs he trained with. I then went to a Schutzhund trial and saw some dogs work...most were very balanced with no over the top drive per my observations. I then realized my boy was probably somewhere in the middle when it came to drive and was probably hindered by the fact that I never properly developed his drive (didn't know what drive was at the time).

I've also seen some over the top drive dogs...one that comes to mind had absolutely ZERO focus though. Absolutely no food drive or praise drive. The owner couldn't get the dog to do anything. Ended up giving her back to the breeder as she just wasn't cut out to deal with a dog like that.

Its funny though, just yesterday I was reading through some puppy threads and had to chuckle when people write "X has absolutely wonderful temperament for being our first dog." It's like...how do you know what good temperament is when this is just your first dog?

It all comes down to subjectivity based on experience.
 

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I suppose I look at drive from a human perspective as the compulsion to do something. So a dog with high ball drive like Delgado will go bonkers and do just about anything for the ball, while a dog with low ball drive may refuse to fetch as it's just not interesting to them. The higher the drive, the higher the compulsion to complete the task.

Energy is self-explanatory, how much exercise and stimulation does the dog need before it runs out and needs to rest.

Neurotic dogs cannot "turn off" because their brains are wired to GO GO GO until they literally drop from exhaustion. They need that off switch taught and management done just like a human with OCD

JMO
 

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A dog who "can't settle down" and whose drive level appears inappropriate for what the current situation calls for, I would call "neurotic".

Drive is not just the ability and the will to do. To me, "drive" is balance. It's a dog who has nerve and will, but is balanced enough to adjust it to what the situation needs. The "on/off" switch that people often talk about. Those are the dogs who don't waste energy unnecessarily.

A jittery dog who is bouncing all over the house even after a day's work (whatever that work may be), who obviously WANT to lay down and rest but for whatever reason just can't seem to... I would call neurotic at the worst, and unbalanced at the very best.
 

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my thoughts:
Drive is a behavior that is 'driven' by a motivator - there can be many types of motivators hence different types of drives. A dog tries to fulfill a drive by doing behaviors until the motivator is no longer motivating; replaced by another motivator or need (need to poo for example); or dog is simply too tired.

Energy is just the magnitude or duration of a dog's physical behavior. So it can be behavior driven by a motivator or it can simply be behavior due to hyperactivity or other causes. For example, a hyperactive child touching everything which is based on a real need for children to explore the world but can be too much for the adults around, or too much for the child to learn which contradicts the initial natural purpose of the behavior.

Neurotic behavior can be behavior without purpose or a real need, or even counterproductive or harmful. For example, dog chasing its tail.

The terms can be related such as a high drive dog having lots of energy to fulfill its drives; or a neurotic dog having lots of energy to be neurotic. Or unrelated such as a dog neurotically chasing its tail can also have a high drive to retrieve a ball, or not.

So a dog with lots of energy to engage in neurotic behaviors is the most undesirable. The level of energy a dog has is good or bad depending on the outcomes or situations or its owner. The level and types of drives a dog has is good or bad again depending on the situation and the owner. So a dog may be perceived as too 'high drive' or have too much energy by one person, and can be perceived as low drive or low energy by another person depending on the person's expectations and experiences.
 

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Which "drive" are we discussing? It seems most mainly consider prey/ball drive and forget to discuss anything else.

I think having a "goal" might differentiate drive v. neurosis. Chasing a tail has no real goal.... Going through a pile of brush to get a ball has an end-goal.

And low, moderate, high...... this is where getting out and training comes in handy. If you only have your dogs, or your clubs dogs to compare then I would venture your ability to accurately judge/label is skewed.

--Ocean, I think we were on the same track there. :)
 

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In the world according to Nancy;

Drive is what will assist you in training a dog. If the dog likes treats use treats. Toys use toys. Etc. High drive is a dog that will do ANYTHING for what modivates it. Will focus on the lure instead of anything else.

Low and Medium drive is measured on the dog's ability to focus on the lure with distractions.

Energy (to me) equals stamina.

Neuotic is a dog that has little to no impulse control.
 

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see I knew someone could say it better than I:) thanks ocean, my thoughts were rather yours, but expressing it with words was much better accomplished by you:)

I don't think I've had my coffee yet to be functional:)
 

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Here are my opinions on each. This is based on my current GSD:

Drive - IMO My dog has high prey drive, why? He will not chase if it does not move, if it moves he must catch and "kill" it. When we play with his flirt pole, he will not stop to drink or do anything until I make him or he kills the toy at the end. If it starts to move again he is back at it. He tries to chase cats, birds, ground hogs, anything that moves. That is drive IMO.

Energy - He cant go for that long, and I do not expect him to. He is still under weight and needs to rest, I have to force the rest. He is low / medium energy (right now, once his weight improves it could be a different ball game) But he is ok just laying around sleeping in my office while I work, he tires quickly (maybe 3-4 rounds with the flirt pole and he is no longer running he is trotting after it, although he really wants it).

Neurotic - I can break his focus with a number of different methods so he is not neurotic, his will to live and eat is higher than anything we have presented him with. Will he go back to the unwanted behavior if we do not redirect of course any dog would. I would think a neurotic dog would be so focused on what they want they will do ANYTHING to get to it. Death never crosses their mind and they cannot be redirected. I do think his dog aggression is border line neurotic. He will not break focus and there is no redirecting 98% of the time depending on how close the other dog is or what their return behavior is. The trainer has a different opinion than mine but his test for this were more drastic than I would personally do. Basically made him decide life or attack the other dog...
 

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What about "puzzle drive", for lack of a better word? I never see that talked about, but I've known several dogs who had it, and it's not prey or play. They are working toward a reward, are highly focused and are goal-oriented in that mode--and it seems to come very naturally to some dogs, regardless of their energy level.

For example, I had one who spent hours investigating how a super-sturdy Tuffy's Toy was constructed to find the one weakness in a seam, patiently work that seam open, and extract the squeaker. She was not playing--she simply wanted what was inside and was determined to get it, however long it took. The same dog would watch people use latches on gates, doors, and even crates, think about what she observed, and then work patiently at the same task until she figured out how to do it too. It was always focused, calculated, and task-oriented when she did it--all business, with no playful body language.

That goal-oriented focus has to be a kind of mental drive. It's not energy though (she was relaxed and calm doing these things). Nor is it neurotic (she would leave it if asked).
 

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Drive is the inner spark , an initiative , that is internally rewarded , which allows a dog to work reliably, independently in situations where there is stress, random need to exert its drive , and to work in a variety of locations without constant input and management or reward from the handler.

This was the essence of what von Stephanitz appreciated when he studied itinerant , large flock , sheep herding "boundary keeping" dogs in use .
Large flock could be anywhere from 500 to 700 sheep , which must be kept peaceful and contained. Often on the forum we have too much of the border collie type behaviour associated with the GSD. The sheep and the shepherd did not return to a home base , a farm , for the evening. These were the Wanderschaferei , the wandering , intinerant shepherds that would rest overnight in sheds or nomadic tent shelters.
 

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Drive is focused on a specific task. It has a purpose.

Not sure how I would define high energy.

Neurotic: A dog that does thing for no reason except just to do something. Tail chasing, spinning, barking, pacing, never settles unless exhausted. What they do has no focused purpose.
 

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It's seems that in almost every thread people talk about there "high drive" dog. I have a really hard time believing that every GSD on this forum is high drive. That is just statistically not possible especially given the different lines these come from. That makes me think that we don't truly have an understanding of drive. Or what it means to have a "high drive" dog.
I also think drive/energy/neurotic can mean different things to people.
The level of energy a dog has is good or bad depending on the outcomes or situations or its owner. The level and types of drives a dog has is good or bad again depending on the situation and the owner. So a dog may be perceived as too 'high drive' or have too much energy by one person, and can be perceived as low drive or low energy by another person depending on the person's expectations and experiences.
If you only have your dogs, or your clubs dogs to compare then I would venture your ability to accurately judge/label is skewed.
Sorry to pick apart people's posts, but I thought these were all great comments, and each was very relevant to the others. Halo is my first working line dog, and while I can see that she is definitely higher drive than my previous GSDs, I really couldn't say if she's actually HIGH drive or just medium, as I have limited comparative experience to judge her against. She has a really good off switch so she's definitely not bouncing off the walls high energy, and she's not neurotic. She is, however, very determined and very focused on what she wants and will keep at it until she gets it. She's easily motivated by food and toys, but also clearly enjoys working with me in general, just for the joy of the "work", which makes her highly biddable. (No real work, we race in flyball and dabble in dock diving.) She has been an education for me, even after over 20 years of prior GSD ownership, but she's also been so much fun because she throws everything she has into everything she does. But is she high drive? I have no idea!
 

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I kinda think of drive as the "intensity" behind the force driving the dog (ie. going for a ball; finding a person/hunt; how they chase the sheep; etc.).

For energy, I look at the stamina of the dog while in drive. How long can they maintain that intensity on one task; etc.?

Zefra would be considered high drive, high energy.

I know some people who are not use to the breed, or working dogs in general consider her neurotic because she goes from 0 to 100 mph in a split second if asked or activated. But she is able to settle, is an excellent apartment dog, is able to just relax and enjoy life as a dog should with no outward bad behaviours (spinning, tail chasing, etc.).
 

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Neurotic = movement without thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for replying everyone. I agree that people views of what is high drive or not is based off there experience level but that doesn't make it accurate. We should make a chart 1-10 of gsd's doing different activities like the pain chart at a doctors office haha. Then people could say I have a level 7 drive dog and.....

All the talk about different drives brings up another question. What is a drive? That's another one that keeps getting thrown around. "My dog blinks all the time so it has high blink drive." What! blink drive? And so on.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

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I think it is useful to think of a drive as a form of behavior that is motivated by a reward at the end of the behavior or by repeating the behavior. The behavior can also be rewarding by itself.
Here is where the kids need to change channels.
Sex drive - it's a behavior done because it feels good. Nature made it feel good because it is necessary to continue the species. Scientists have found all sorts of chemicals involved in the brain during the act.

My SchH dog loves to track. Even when he was young it wasn't about the food on the track or the reward. The behavior itself was rewarding for him to do. It must have felt good. It's logical that Nature made the tracking behavior feel good because it increases the survival chances of a canine. A bit like sex. So the training was just channeling the drive to the specifics of a desired pattern.

Car chasing is a behavior I've had to deal with. Obviously, chase is part of the hunt sequence - find, chase, kill, eat or bring back to den. The dog is not motivated by the whole hunt sequence, even it knows it can't kill and eat a car, but the chase part by itself feels good. So what would be the proper terminology to call a strong drive to chase cars?

Herding is really interesting because it's a fairly complex behavioral tool kit that contains many drives, some conflicting. Hence, why the GSD (and other herding breeds) are so intelligent and trainable (and energetic or drivey).
 

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I tend to think of drive as: desire directed toward an objective and the intensity at which the desire is expressed.

As for neurotic in this context, I tend to think of it as the inability to contain and/or direct all that the dog has flowing through it.

I think people's perception of their dog being "high drive" is relative to the experience they have with other dogs. One person's "high drive" dog might be another person's couch potato. I used to think my female was pretty high drive . . . until I got my male. Not saying the female does not have good drive; the male just brings a whole 'nuther level of intensity.

Putting drive on a scale based upon activities could be difficult. In some instances, activities may be more a function of the inability of a dog to control and direct its drive than the "amount" of drive itself.
 
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