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Discussion Starter #1
maxismom's thread has got me wondering about this, but i didn't want to hijack.

i mentioned that the trainer i had come in to help me w/teagan noted that most dogs w/high prey drive want to play with and dominate their prey, whereas teagan wants to kill (something i'd already noted myself).

jean mentioned that is generally seen as prey aggression, rather than prey drive.

i did some googling and didn't find a whole lot on the differences, though i did find this article:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/predatory-aggression/page1.aspx

i think it describes teagan fairly well.

it is pretty negative about the prognosis w/prey aggressive animals. i have to admit, even if i got teagan to the point where she did not react around small animals, i don't think i could ever bring myself to trust her.

i'm just wondering what people's thoughts and/or experiences are on prey drive vs. prey aggression.
 

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I do not understand this train of thought. As I understand it, prey drive is the dogs genetic instinct to chase, catch, kill and then carry prey back to their den. This manifests itself when a dog barks to get it's prey to move so it can chase and once caught shake it to death (if small enough). Nothing is about play or domination in this instinct, and to take it further the drive normally is higher with an empty belly. Yes our dogs are domesticated and do not need to hunt for their dinner, but that does not mean the genetic instinct is not present. Now, it may be true that for dogs that are lower in prey drive and natural aggression once they catch the prey they will not know what to do with it unless the behavior is taught or cultivated but I do not know of any seperation between prey aggression and prey drive. To be a predator is to be aggressive, you need to kill in order to survive.

With dogs that are high in prey drive control is the only way to handle them around small animals. No, there may never be a time that you can just not worry about her chasing without intervention, but you can make her understand that she needs to listen to you regardless of stimuli - including prey.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
she definitely knows now it is not acceptable....though i can feel her ready to go next to me if i dropped the slightest bit of attention. actually, mostly in our new set up, i think she's been out once at the same time as the small animals (one of the cats was hiding, so i put teagan on her leash and she located esme very quickly, then i put teagan away, and put esme in her room). while i do not approve or allow her behaviour, i don't think she's doing anything wrong, it's how she is, but obviously it cannot be allowed.

i have to admit, i always thought it was just prey drive, and some dogs were more driven than others.

so you just see it as the level of drive? i've never thought of separating the two before, it interested me.
 

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I think to try to define things in terms of "prey drive" vs "prey aggression" is overly simplifying things, and also erroneous.

Prey drive (and herding behavior for that matter) is rooted in the natural hunting sequence of canines:
find game (track) - stalk - flush - chase - catch - kill - possess (eat) OR retrieve (return to den)

Through selective breeding, humans have adjusted this natural hunting instinct to suit our purposes. Some breeds and individuals possess certain parts of the sequence, but not others. The most obvious examples of this are in the hunting breeds.

Setters and Pointers for the most part possess the early parts of the sequence: track - stalk - flush. But, because of selective breeding, it stops there. A bird dog who chases the game once flushed is going to get himself shot. Many hounds possess most, if not all, of the sequence. Including chase - catch -kill. The Beagle, for example, is a rabbit hunting dog. It chases the rabbits. If it could catch the rabbits it would, but it can't. The reason it is designed to be a small, stumpy legged dog is to make sure it can't catch the rabbits, or even get close, or else it will also be shot by the hunter. Other breeds have had most, if not all, of this hunting sequence bred out of them entirely.

Working and herding breeds like the GSD have also been bred to retain this hunting sequence, but in a slightly altered form that allows them to channel those behaviors into things like herding, protection, etc... rather than specific hunting behaviors.

Some don't have all of it, and these are the dogs who will chase, but don't try to catch or if they do catch they don't try to kill. Others will try to catch and kill. It doesn't depend on how strong the dog's "prey drive" is.. How vehemently it chases is a result of prey drive, but whether it tries to catch and what it does if it does catch isn't determined by it's level of drive, but rather what parts of the hunting sequence the dog came genetically programmed with.

Since catching and killing prey involves what could be considered an aggression component, whereas chasing alone does not, I suppose one could say that dogs who possess that part of the hunting sequence (and will catch and kill) have "prey aggression" in addition to just "prey drive". But as I said, I think that isn't exactly an accurate way to look at it.
 

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I was one of the people separating what I see as normal prey drive and aggressive behavior towards a particular small animal. The post that started this conversation involved a gsd puppy who goes absolutely nuts when he sees cats. I believe the OP said that he hackles, growls and tries to grab them and kill them (by shaking them). He does not act that way towards small dogs who are running or anything else running. I said that I thought this behavior did not sound like normal prey drive but instead sounded like aggression towards cats.

I have a dog (Chama) who has exceptionally high prey drive. She has been an avid hunter over the course of her life. She will literally stay under a tree for hours trying to get a chipmunk. However, if she sees a small animal in a home (such as a cat or a bunny or a gerbil) she will completely leave it alone because that's the way I have trained her. She understands the difference between prey and domesticated animals outside as well and will not chase cats unless told to do so (and don't worry, I don't tell her to chase cats for fun!). Furthermore, when she sees prey (wild animals) outside she will bark, chase (and kill, if given the opportunity) but she does not hackle, growl, etc. She is aggressive if she catches the animal in that she tries to kill it but she is not aggressive in her posture, behavior, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm confusing the issue much more than necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
chris, that's a great explanation - wow!!! - thank you. that makes a lot of sense w/what you're saying about genetics and the components of the hunting sequence.


ruth - i know what you mean. i will never trust teagan around the small animals, no matter how much work i do with her, and part of me feels like it's not fair to have the small animals out as things to use when working w/her. i wonder if she'd been around them from young if she'd be better with them.

like max, she's focused on the kill, but unlike him, she does not hackle, and she only vocalizes when she has been stopped from attacking (and therefore killing) and there is no chance for her. she's non-vocal in all forms of aggression though, and as well, she reacts in a prey way to all small animals, including sometimes small dogs (i've seen her start to stalk them, though recently she seems to be reacting to them territorially rather than on a prey basis).
 

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Originally Posted By: BowWowMeowI was one of the people separating what I see as normal prey drive and aggressive behavior towards a particular small animal. The post that started this conversation involved a gsd puppy who goes absolutely nuts when he sees cats. I believe the OP said that he hackles, growls and tries to grab them and kill them (by shaking them). He does not act that way towards small dogs who are running or anything else running. I said that I thought this behavior did not sound like normal prey drive but instead sounded like aggression towards cats.
You are 100% correct. That behavior has nothign to do with prey drive. A dog does not hackle in prey drive (other than the select few that may hackle out of sheer excitement and even then it's not the traditional hackle). A dog hackles during defense/aggression in order to look larger because it feels threatened and is acting out of survival instinct. Prey drive is linked to hunting and in turn eating. A dog that feels threatened will not hunt or eat.
 

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Originally Posted By: BowWowMeow he hackles, growls and tries to grab them and kill them (by shaking them). He does not act that way towards small dogs who are running or anything else running. I said that I thought this behavior did not sound like normal prey drive but instead sounded like aggression towards cats.
Agree.. growling, hackling, grabbing is not prey drive or "prey aggression". The growling and hackling would indicate some sort of fear/defense based aggression.

Very different from chasing, catching, shaking.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
it actually wasn't ruth's comments that raised this for me, it was when i mentioned what the trainer had said to me regarding teagan that the possible division between prey drive and prey aggression came up.

having stronger parts of the hunting sequence makes so much sense though.
 

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3 levels of Prey instinct or drive, aggression is not a instinct its a behavior.

1: Low Prey drive: the desire to chase after something (then turn off)

2: Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & grab it.
with this type you will get a Prey grip (the dog will fall or pull off the sleeve)

3: High Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & possess it prey (lock on, full grip)
 

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Originally Posted By: jarnit actually wasn't ruth's comments that raised this for me, it was when i mentioned what the trainer had said to me regarding teagan that the possible division between prey drive and prey aggression came up.
I think many people, trainers included, make the mistake of assuming than when any aggressive behavior is shown to small, furry things that it is prey drive. And most often it is, but not always. The dog's overall behavior and body language provides the answer to what is really going on, not the simple fact that it's directed toward what might generally be considered a "prey animal".
 

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Originally Posted By: Deejays_Owner3 levels of Prey instinct or drive, aggression is not a instinct its a behavior.

1: Low Prey drive: the desire to chase after something (then turn off)

2: Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & grab it.
with this type you will get a Prey grip (the dog will fall or pull off the sleeve)

3: High Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & possess it prey (lock on, full grip)
I don't know about that either. There are plenty of "lower prey drive" dogs that lock on and have a full grip. It just takes more work to elicit the response.
 

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Originally Posted By: Deejays_Owner3 levels of Prey instinct or drive, aggression is not a instinct its a behavior.

1: Low Prey drive: the desire to chase after something (then turn off)

2: Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & grab it.
with this type you will get a Prey grip (the dog will fall or pull off the sleeve)

3: High Prey drive: the desire to chase after something & possess it prey (lock on, full grip)
I disagree.. I do not see the difference beween grabbing and possessing as a factor of the strength of the dog's prey drive.

How easily the dog is enticed to chase, how much intensity and single minded purpose the dog shows in his chase, and how long he will sustain the chase, is a function of the strength of his prey drive. But what he does if he catches it is not necessarily related to the strength of his prey drive. Yes, most "high drive" dogs will grab and shake, but that's because they have something inside them more than just "high drive".

I have known dogs who will chase like their life depends on it, but when they reach the object they really don't care about grabbing it. And other dogs who just sort of lumber after it without a whole lot of gusto, but if they catch it they will grab and shake.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris Wild
Originally Posted By: jarnit actually wasn't ruth's comments that raised this for me, it was when i mentioned what the trainer had said to me regarding teagan that the possible division between prey drive and prey aggression came up.
I think many people, trainers included, make the mistake of assuming than when any aggressive behavior is shown to small, furry things that it is prey drive. And most often it is, but not always. The dog's overall behavior and body language provides the answer to what is really going on, not the simple fact that it's directed toward what might generally be considered a "prey animal".
and with teagan, it's pretty clear....she stalks, is silent, basically is as unobtrusive as possible until she thinks she's close enough and then she'll go, and she is obviously trying to kill. or she would do that, except she doesn't get the opportunity anymore.

it did come up though that some people make a distinction b/tw playing prey drive and killing prey drive. our trainer just said she had high prey drive and that it was focused on the kill, not on playing/dominating her prey. she caught him by surprise at how suddenly and silently she went, luckily i was paying attention though my alpha bunny did lose a bit of fur - i felt terrible, though he was completely unbothered by it (he's a pretty aggressive animal though, rabbit or no....only pet i've ever have that's scarred me, though he's a mushball with me now....once he bit my mom so bad when she was pet sitting she needed anti-inflammatory - i'd provided protective gloves, and after that a protective jacket too), and that's one reason why i don't really use the small animals to desensitize teagan.
 

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Quote:How easily the dog is enticed to chase, how much intensity and single minded purpose the dog shows in his chase, and how long he will sustain the chase, is a function of the strength of his prey drive.
That would be Keefer, intense and single minded. He also has a high-pitched yippy bark that I think I read in a link that you provided, Chris, is the prey flushing bark?

The difference between him and Dena is that she's totally focused and very intense about chasing tennis balls, and she is interested in chasing the cats, but not as intense in general about other stuff. For her, it's very specific - not much interest in tug toys, doesn't care about big balls like Jolly Balls, football or soccer balls, which Keefer is totally obsessed with, and she can be much more easily called off a chase. For him, his head whips around immediately at fast movement, any fast movement. And then he's after it, unless it's cats or squirrels in the back yard, and then he just goes off jumping up and down barking that silly bark. And if I wave a toy around he's instantly leaping in the air trying to get at it. But I don't see his demeanor as 'aggressive' around potential prey, I think he just wants to play. And play. And play.

He's virtually tireless, she'll stop and take a break, laying down with her ball for a rest. He's still jumping around waiting for more, no matter how much he's been running around or swimming. Thank goodness he has an off switch, I don't think I could stand it if he was like that 24/7. Fortunately he's fine around the house.
 

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Chris

I was told this from a Herding Judge

#1 the ones that just run along
#2 faster & go in for a floss
#3 much faster & get the full grip and will not let go

Deejay is a #3, and I think we can agree that aggression has no part of the Prey instinct.
 

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Quite possibly accurate in the narrow context of herding and the affects of drive specifically on herding behavior. But definitely not what I would consider even close to an comprehensive or fully accurate description of prey drive in general.

And I can think of several other personality traits a dog could have (or environmental experiences) that would affect which of those 3 sets of behaviors listed he would display, which would have nothing to do with drive level too. Where a true "level 3" dog might appear a "level 1" if only evaluated from a what-it-does-with-sheep standpoint, and vice versa.
 

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Chris, I think I know what you are talking about, I'm in way saying that Deejay is a "level 3" dog.
He runs down a rabbit and grabs and hold on but does not shake, thank god.
And will out on command, man can a rabbit ever cry loud. So far he has not killed one,
most times they are just in shock. Anyway the point is there is no aggression in the act
just the chase and the possession.
 

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Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
You are 100% correct. That behavior has nothign to do with prey drive. A dog does not hackle in prey drive (other than the select few that may hackle out of sheer excitement and even then it's not the traditional hackle). A dog hackles during defense/aggression in order to look larger because it feels threatened and is acting out of survival instinct. Prey drive is linked to hunting and in turn eating. A dog that feels threatened will not hunt or eat.
This is very interesting because the first time we took Max to class the trainer, who owns Max's half brother, was playing catch with Cisco (Max's brother) in a field. We were the first people there so stood waiting for a couple minutes. She came in with Cisco and as soon as she headed in Max started barking like crazy. Trainer stopped and asked me to observe my dogs stance and his body language and to note her dog's as well. Max was all hyperventilating and was hackling. When I looked at her dog, he was not hyperventilating but WAS hackling as well.

At the time Max was 15 weeks and weighed far less then he does now...Cisco is 4 or 5 and weighs in at 130. She said that because Max had started barking and thinking he was "all that" immediately Cisco hackled to pump himself up and look larger. Max did the same. She told me that her dog only hackles when he comes across "know it all pups" and very aggressive adult dogs. She had emphasized to me at the time that getting the dog to remain silent and checking in with me whenever he sees a dog is a must or Max is going to get his butt kicked. LOL.

So, I have begun to take notice when I see Max hackle. He does it when we are walking and he comes across a scent that disturbs him. We have a lot of wildlife around here so who knows what the scent is he is picking up. Could be a chipmunk or a bear. I just know he doesn't do it with all scents just some.

The other day DH was standing at the bus stop with DD with Max. A deer crossed the road and it scared Max. He did bark a bit but basically hid behind my husband. No hackling...so it does not seem that he reacts the same way with different fears.

I can not understand why he would hackle with the cats. If hackling is a way of puffing themselves up, does this mean he is actually frightened of the cats and is all obnoxious and acting the fool because of fear? I think I am really confused now.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris Wild
Originally Posted By: BowWowMeow he hackles, growls and tries to grab them and kill them (by shaking them). He does not act that way towards small dogs who are running or anything else running. I said that I thought this behavior did not sound like normal prey drive but instead sounded like aggression towards cats.
Agree.. growling, hackling, grabbing is not prey drive or "prey aggression". The growling and hackling would indicate some sort of fear/defense based aggression.

Very different from chasing, catching, shaking.
I agree.
Reich has a pretty high prey drive. She cannot be trusted with small animals. Found that out when I tried to introduce her to the kittens my cat had. And it's been confirmed with the multiple attempts on birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc.

There is no barking, hackling, etc. It's quiet and it's fast.
She is, however, fearful of other dogs. That is where the barking, hackling, and growling come into play.

Any cats give her a hard time as a pup? I know they can be pretty ruthless with an overly interested pup they have no urge to meet.
 
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