So You Think You Want a High Drive Dog??
The newest, latest and greatest rage in the dog world is having a “high drive dog”.
After all we see these super dogs on cops, Alpha Dogs (Von Liche Kennels on Nat Geo Wild), or Police Dog Academy.
They are everywhere!
And, these dogs are seriously impressive! They take most people's breath away with their extreme obedience, fastness and willingness to bite and defend.
Everyone wants one of these super stars but they don’t realize what it takes to live with a dog like this!
Leerburg has a great video on You Tube “So You Think You Want a High Drive Puppy” Where they show a super “drivey” Malinois puppy in an exercise pen and tormenting a Jack Russell.
Although it shows some great instances of what it is like to have a high drive puppy, it doesn’t even begin to show the “dark side” of it.
After watching that video you may think… “well, he’ll grow out of that”… the truth is that is not always the case.
I Know All About It
I know all about it, I have 3 of these dogs! I have 2 Belgian Malinois and one Dutch Shepherds and all of them are from very high drive working dogs.
That is okay, because I am used to that kind of dog, I have been training and working with them for almost 20 years. I knew what I was getting into.
AND, I train daily and exercise them rigorously! Just read A Day in the Life of My Crazy Dogs this is just a portion of what my dogs learn.
This kind of stimulation keeps them happy and under control. But how many people have this kind of time? Most people aren’t doggy professionals and don’t want to deal with biting dogs.
Biting is a big part of having a high drive dog.
What you don’t see in the puppy video is how these puppies interact with a human in their environment.
Go to you tube and search Malinois puppies biting and you’ll see what I mean http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gec-nqc1HUA all it shows is two legs with a litter of growling, biting, barking puppies attached. They are biting and riding and shaking his legs and shoes.
It looks like the man has been fed to a pack of wild dogs, till you realize they are only 8 weeks old.
Imagine bringing one of these adorable babies home… now you walk past him while he is playing (he isn’t in one of those exercise pens) and he flies across the room and latches onto your thigh. Not as cute anymore! Most of these puppies can be picked up and flipped over and they still won’t release their grip on your flesh.
Now imagine having this kind of dog with children…
Most people don’t want a dog like this, or they think they do until they spend a day with a puppy or dog of this aptitude.
So a puppy doesn’t seem so bad, right? You can handle that...
What about when that puppy becomes an adult?
By then the behavior has changed, right?
These dogs are high drive even in adulthood. This is what makes them good at their jobs, but it also makes life a little risky.
I am ALWAYS careful when even my adult dogs are in drive that I don't move fast or get bitten.
They must back up and lay down when I throw their ball so they don't inadvertently launch into me and bite me... since I have to move (prey... movement excites them) to throw their toy.
A Month or So Ago I Got Bit Pretty Bad…
It’s true, a month or so ago I go bit pretty badly, but it was no one’s fault.
My puppy is very high drive, I know that, I like that and I train for sport. I was teaching him to swim for his toy, but when he got out of the pool he didn’t want to spit out one toy for the other… This can be pretty normal. A good high drive worker clamps onto a toy or possession.
So I dangled another toy high over my head, hoping he would spit his out and seek mine. And HE DID; the problem is that he jumped over 6 feet over my head and latched onto the toy AND MY FINGER and it happened so fast I didn’t even see it coming.
He didn’t even realize he had my finger, and even when I squeaked he didn’t want to spit it out; plus it was way back in the back of his mouth and deep into his grip. I had to wiggle it out and he had bitten it to the bone.
He didn’t mean to. He wasn’t “gunning for my finger” or biting me in retaliation. He didn’t even know he had gotten my finger.
Because his prey drive is so high his desire for the toy was over the top and he did whatever he needed to get what he wanted.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
I sculpt my dogs’ drive and I use it to my advantage, eventually.
But my dogs have the power of a Bugatti Veyron (yes I am a car girl) and most dogs have the power of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV or somewhere closer to here (yes you may have to google that).
And, I have scars from each of them, when I have not been fast enough to get out of their way (although Pharaoh has gotten me the best).
So when I talk about sculpting your dog’s drive, we are in different ball parks. For more on building drive click here
And, I would never recommend a dog like mine to anyone but a professional.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.