Understanding Your Dog: Drives And Instincts

Understanding Instinct And Drive Of Dogs

We regularly discuss how your dog behaves differently due to their “drives and instincts.” Since each dog is unique and has a distinct personality, what drives one dog may not inspire the dog standing next to them. The owner must manage the dog’s drive to control or work with it. An important aspect of a dog’s genetic and physiological makeup is its drive.

Understanding the causes of your dog’s behavior is essential. From birth, dogs have their innate instincts and drives. They can be enhanced by development, whereas their eradication is difficult, if not impossible.

  • Drive Prey
  • Predation instinct
  • Guarding Instinct
  • The defense
  • Drive for food.

Imagine that a bird flies or a rabbit runs away in the wild. The dog, triggered by the movement, activates prey drive and runs after the animal. The dog’s predatory instinct takes control as he pulls off a grab, shakes, bites, and kills. Before eating the dead animal, the dog can guard it and use defense to drive any other dogs away. These are all all-organic.

You can see your dog displaying many of these natural drives and instincts regularly, such as chasing the wheels of a bike or skateboard (prey drive), shaking a plush toy (predatory instinct), guarding a delectable bone, and barking at people approaching the house (defense).

Let’s look at the most common instincts and drives present in dogs nowadays.


The food drive of a dog can be used to gauge how hungry it is. Different breeds of dogs will have differing levels of food drive; even within one species, you can find dogs with different groups. For example, Labradors and Beagles typically have a stronger food movement, although others do not.

A dog with a high drive for food will eat much more than is healthy. Typically, these dogs will do anything for food, and when food is present, they become completely unconcerned with their surroundings. If you find that your dog has a high food drive, it’s important to keep him away from other bowls and only feed him the recommended food (if you are unsure, contact your local vet).

Giving into your dog’s desires could result in them gaining weight quickly or becoming fat. A balanced diet is essential (as well as the power not to overfeed, even when you get puppy-dog-eyes).

A dog with a high food drive may be much easier to train, which benefits owners. Since food-motivated dogs are almost always willing to do anything for a treat, you may use this to your advantage when teaching them to get results quickly.

The drive for prey

It’s important to remember that all dogs exhibit some degree of prey drive and are predators. Many dogs still possess this instinct despite being tamed nowadays, some more so than others. As the dog’s owner, it’s possible that you’ve observed behavioral trends in your dog that indicate a prey-driven mentality. High-prey-drive dogs are more likely to fixate on and become obsessed with anything that moves. Anything moving swiftly will attract their attention, whether a shadow, an ant crawling across the ground, or a leaf blowing by.

Movement awakens a dog’s prey drive while. A predatory sequence is typically the outcome. A dog is starting its hunting drive in this picture. The steps in a predatory series are stalking, chasing, biting, and doing a shake and kill.

Prey drive, instead of being aggressive, is a dog’s natural need to chase moving objects.

Larger prey drives than most are characteristic of breeds employed for hunting, herding, spotting, and guarding, making them effective working dogs. However, high levels of prey drive can be seen in terriers and smaller dogs.

Understanding what triggers prey drive is essential because “drives” can change over time. People who reside in your home can then take the proper safeguards or decide how to proceed. Here is a quick list:

  • Do not promote chasing games (especially with small children). Although you might think this is entertaining, your dog might not.
  • Using a lead will help you teach your dog to control its drive to chase after prey. Dogs need to learn impulse control. Extreme care must be taken because handling the lead incorrectly could have the opposite effect, increasing discomfort and decreasing drive.
  • For guidance on how to teach and manage your dog’s impulse control, speak with a specialist.
  • Engage “fetch” with your dog, which involves chasing after, catching, and recovering objects. This can provide a useful outlet for his instincts.

DRIVE play

“High play drive Dogs love to play and will forego food and other rewards in favor of having fun and playing. Your dog’s eagerness to participate in entertaining activities with you or other dogs is known as their “play drive.”

Dogs with a lot of play drive will usually enjoy playing fetch with you and keep bringing the ball back and dropping it for you to play.

This drive is highly desired in the dog training field because dogs are great for training for many objectives. Play is a common reward for dogs worldwide, such as sniffer and support dogs.

Intentions to Attack:

A dog with a high defense has a distinct personal space. The instinct to protect one’s sense of self When a person or dog is new, they usually engage in undesirable behaviors, such as avoiding the person, barking, growling, baring fangs, and perhaps biting if warnings are not heeded. They commonly invite familiar people and dogs into their personal space.

Defensive dogs want some space, even though they are frequently described as shy or aloof. As their owners, we must protect our dogs. If your child objected to being physically touched by a stranger, would you force them to allow it? The response is “no.” Because of this, telling people to give their dogs their space, so they don’t feel worried is important.

The instinct for Security:

A dog is categorized as a guard dog if its guard drive is high. It’s common for people to mix up the defense and guarding. Due to its guarding instinct, your dog will protect anything it considers precious.

From dog to dog, the objects have varying values. They could include

  • food
  • bones
  • toys
  • people
  • territory
  • areas of comfort.
  • elevational areas (i.e., your lap, the sofa)

This is not an exhaustive list, as some dogs may feel strongly about something and exhibit guarding behavior in response.

Guarding is frequently referred to as “food aggression. Dogs often behave violently when safeguarding food because of their naturally high-guarding drive. Many dog owners, especially dogs exhibiting high guarding, may notice their puppies defending as early as eight weeks old, growling when they have a toy or bone. People will be highly concerned about their dogs’ animosity. This is guarding, an obvious indication that owners did not instill it as a learned behavior but rather as an instinct.

The owners may not have created this behavior, but if ignored, it typically gets worse over time. When owners aren’t good at managing their puppies’ behavior, and their behavior gets increasingly confident, things can quickly get out of hand and lead to bites.