Information

Understanding Predatory Drift in Dogs


Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

What Is Predatory Drift?

Despite being domesticated over 12,000 years ago, being fed food from a bag and sleeping on comfy beds, dogs remain hunters at heart. Several behaviors observed in dogs still stem from their past as hunters living in the wild. Your dog still walks around in circles before laying down, buries his bones, and marks his territory, even though today these behaviors may no longer be needed in a domestic setting. Among some of these ancestral behaviors is also a phenomenon known as "predatory drift."

What exactly is predatory drift? And what seems to trigger it?

In the wild, dogs used to hunt to survive, and in order to be successful, they followed a predatory sequence encompassing the following steps:

  • the search,
  • the eye-stalk,
  • the chase,
  • the grab bite,
  • and the kill bite.

Selective breeding has caused several dogs to inhibit the last few steps of the sequence.

We therefore have herding dogs that will herd sheep by stalking them, chasing them, and even gripping at times, but they will not kill the sheep. We have hunting dogs that have developed "soft" mouths, whereas, in the past, there was no such thing if the dog wanted to survive. Yet some breeds were also selectively bred to complete the whole sequence. For instance, many terriers were used as "ratters" that killed vermin in many factories and farms.

So initially, dogs were naturally inclined to kill prey animals for survival purposes, thereby completing the whole predatory sequence. Then, hunters selectively bred several dogs to not complete the whole sequence for herding purposes or to prevent meat from being spoiled by their sharp teeth.

Now, in modern times, it's not unusual for some dogs to finish the whole sequence by killing a cat or another dog, and when this happens, the dog is inevitably in big trouble, and at times, even at risk for being put down.

Predatory drift is considered basically a comeback to the original and ancient predatory sequence. In behavior terms, it's a hard-wired, modal-action-pattern. Basically, once a trigger starts the behavior, it needs to go to completion. In simple words, it's predatory drive in its purest form, not to be confused with aggression! While, the term “instinctive drift” was first coined in 1961 by Breland and Breland, the term "predatory drift" was coined years later by veterinarian, behaviorist, and dog trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar.

How the Predatory Sequence Starts

The predatory sequence may be initiated through play. Play often follows several sequences of predatory behavior. You have the chasing, the stalking and the biting. Most dogs will engage in many ritualistic behaviors and meta-communication to tell the other dog they are only playing under the form of play bows and inhibited bites. However, at certain times, that predatory instinct prevails and once it starts it must end, at times with dire consequences.

This phenomenon may take place when larger dogs play with smaller dogs. The dogs seem to play very well, when out of the blue, the larger dog suddenly goes in for the kill. There are several anecdotal reports of these happenings and sadly, the smaller dogs often don't survive the bite and accompanying head shakes once grabbed by the neck.

How to Prevent Predatory Drift

Preventing predatory drift can be an arduous task. At times, affected dogs do not have a history of the behavior, actually many have never shown any signs of aggression until then! Preventing it is therefore quite tricky. Acknowledging this tendency is one great step in prevention.

Dog owners can help reduce its chances by having large dogs not play with the little ones, or allowing it with very close supervision. There is a good reason, why many dog parks have started dividing play based on size. Many dog day care facilities are also following this trend.

There are certain "pre-drift" signs you can acknowledge. Predatory drift often seems to be triggered by behaviors that stimulate predatory drive. A small dog fleeing, whining and squealing because frightened may trigger predatory drift as its acting almost like real prey. When dogs gang up together with one small dog that acts like prey, predatory drift may ensue. All it takes is a dog to step on a small dog's foot and the small dog squeals and then predatory drift may take over.

I still remember visiting my parents in law several years ago and being told stories of dog-to -dog interactions gone bad. Their two German Shepherds used to start engaging with smaller dogs at times in what appeared like play and then when my parents-in-law would wake up in the morning they would find a bloody mess.

I still remember those horror stories, and one night when I slept over I did see them both playfully gang up with a smaller fellow. Concerned, I made sure the small fellow was closed in the home that evening.

Now, as a dog trainer, I think I know exactly what may have gone wrong and still as today I take many precautions when organizing structured play dates with dogs of different sizes. While predatory drift is pretty rare and subject to controversy, I think it's important to be aware of it. My policy still as of today remains the same and is very conservative: to always supervise behavior closely and possibly keep small dogs safely away from the larger ones. The risks at stake are sometimes too high, even if predatory drift isn't likely, small dogs can be easily stepped on and traumatized.

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for a hands-on behavioral assessment, If your dog at any times exhibits aggressive behaviors, please consult with a behavior professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do I make sure my dog (cockapoo) gets enough socializing with other dogs? I am concerned about dog parks now.

Answer: You can organize play dates with other dogs that you know your dog gets along well or you can enroll your dog in daycare where small dogs are kept separate from larger ones and the play is monitored by professionals.

© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli

Sarah Louise Knight on January 20, 2019:

I'm very interested in growing my understanding of dogs' behaviour when in groups.

Joyce Allen on March 24, 2017:

Interaction between small and large dogs should be very well supervised and for short periods.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 08, 2012:

Thanks, this is a phenomena that needs to be known indeed to prevent tragedy especially for owners of small dogs, thanks for stopping by!

Bob Bamberg on December 08, 2012:

Interesting hub and a good read, alexadry. It's helpful to have the bits and pieces that most of us are aware of brought together in a neat little package. It brings the threat into clear focus and helps dog owners avoid a potential tragedy. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on December 08, 2012:

Alexandry, I love this hub and the research that went into it. Predatory drift certainly explains why animals become aggressive all of a sudden too! I am sharing this.


Predatory Drift

Dog play behavior and “predatory drift”
N.H. Sunday News – Dog Tracks Column – 2/24/08
By: Gail T. Fisher

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing some caveats about dogs at play: things to be aware of when dogs play together such as at dog parks, playgroups and daycares. Dog play involves a number of specific behaviors, which dog-loving humans really enjoy watching.

There are six specific behaviors that may be included in dog play: stare, stalk, chase, nip, grab and shake.

Not all dog play involves each of these. Your dog may race around and wrestle with another dog (chase, grab and shake/wrestle). Or grab a toy and shake the heck out of it. And depending on genetics, your dog may stare intensely at a buddy, stealthily approach, then suddenly break into a great game of chase — all normal, harmless, fun behaviors.

Play behaviors are programmed in the dogs’ DNA, but not as play. These are all hunting behaviors related to survival: finding, approaching, catching, and killing dinner.

The domestic dog shares many of the same genes as its relatives, members of the genus Canis (the domestic dog is Canis lupus familiaris). This genus includes wolves, jackals, coyotes and dingoes. Even the sweetest dog in the world shares DNA with his predatory ancestors — hunters and scavengers. Play between wolf cubs looks just like dog play, but the wolf cubs are honing their skills for hunting as adults.

Consider the behavior chain you’ve likely seen in a film of a wolf pack on the hunt. The wolves eye their prey, staring intently. Then they stalk stealthily closer, sneaking as close as possible before being noticed. Sensing danger, the animal takes off, and the chase begins. When the wolf catches up, it bites, grabs, shakes and kills.

With the exception of “kill,” each element of the hunt is what we see in normal, non-violent play between dogs: stare, stalk, chase, nip, grab, and wrestle. Put another way: Dogs play behaviors are the vestiges of predatory behavior. Which brings me to the topic for this week’s column: “predatory drift.”

Predatory drift happens when normal play suddenly “drifts” over the line and the dog’s predatory instincts kick in and take over. At that moment, if something doesn’t happen to stop the behavior, it can turn ugly. Predatory drift is what happened in the cases I wrote about in my last two columns, in which dogs were either badly mauled or killed by otherwise perfectly nice, normal dogs.

Predatory drift can happen suddenly and unpredictably. It can even occur between two dogs who have played together for years – or live together and have always gotten along. Suddenly something triggers a fight.

The trigger for predatory drift can be pain, over-arousal (play that gets out of hand), or a yelp or scream. It can happen when a dog is hurt or frightened by another dog in play and squeals. The squeal triggers a predatory reaction, which can ripple through the entire pack in an instant. Unless people are right there to stop it, the result is what happened to Jasper the Old English Sheepdog I wrote about, who yelped and was attacked by 13 dogs.

The attacking dogs are not bad dogs. They are simply dogs. It isn’t a conscious reaction it’s visceral and instinctive.

It isn’t just dogs that behave this way. Consider what happens to a mob of fans at a soccer game, or a group of normally-civilized people standing on the sidewalk yelling “Jump!” to the poor, troubled person out on the ledge. Or consider how differently teenagers may behave in a group, or gang members when they’re together in a “pack.”

The issue of predatory drift in a doggie daycare, playgroup or dog park situation is something that anyone in attendance must be aware of, whether they’re employees supervising the group, or owners watching their own dogs.

Well-run dog parks have separate areas or times for small dogs, to protect them from the dangers of play with a larger dog. Well-run doggie daycares do the same, protecting small dogs from even the possibility of tragedy.

It isn’t that two differently-sized dogs might not play very well together, but if predatory drift occurs between dogs of disparate sizes, the “shake” can kill the small dog quickly, before anyone can even begin to intervene.

My purpose in writing about these topics is not to alarm or upset readers, it is to educate so you’ll be your dog’s best advocate and protector. Dogs greatly enjoy and benefit from playing with other dogs in a multi-dog setting such as a playgroup, dog park or daycare. It would be sad to deprive them of this terrific outlet and enjoyment.

The caveat for owners is to be aware of the possibilities and take all due care. Don’t put your dog in an unsupervised or poorly supervised play environment, and at a dog park, don’t put your small dog in a group with larger dogs, and stop overly exuberant play before it might go over the top.

Stopping play is a simple as stepping between two dogs, and redirecting their play, or holding them quietly on leash for a minute or so to give them a chance to settle down. If the highly aroused level of play continues, the dogs are likely overly stimulated, and it’s time to go home.

Well-trained doggie daycare staff as well must be on hand, prepared and of sufficient numbers to separate dogs and give them a chance to rest and settle down. Make sure anyone caring for your dog in an interactive environment is trained, and of sufficient numbers to do the same. It may save your dog’s life.


Dog Daycare & Dog Play Styles

When it comes to dog play, the most important factor is the size of the dog, right? Not so fast. While many believe that small dogs and large dogs shouldn’t mix, we’ve found that there’s nothing wrong with mixing sizes in play groups. There is a caveat, of course!

The play style of individual dogs is the more important factor when determining which dogs should play together. Just as important is the NUMBER of dogs that will be together at one time. For instance, it is commonly the case that a dog in a small group will adapt his natural play style to the other dogs around him – including small dogs. Put that same dog in a larger group that includes more “rough and tumble” players and he simply won’t be able to resist the urge to get his romp on!

There are important lessons to be gleaned from this experience observing dog behavior and dog play styles. And there’s also quite a bit of nuance – things that are lost on those who are not dog trainers or dog behavior consultants. Many dogs will play in different ways in different situations, depending on where they are, how many dogs are around, the size of the other dogs, the play style of the other dogs, their comfort level, and other factors. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the common play styles of dogs.

Common Dog Play Styles

Cheerleader

If you’ve been around dogs a lot, you’ve probably seen this type of play. The “cheerleader” will always be positioned on the periphery of the actual play, barking (sometimes incessantly), running around with the group but never actually in the middle of the action, and occasionally nipping. This type of play also occasionally involves “policing” dog play – the cheerleader will sometimes jump into the middle of dog play and break things up. While this appears to be “rude” or bad manners, it’s really just another style of play.

Body Slammer

Body slammers will run and slam themselves into others, rotate their bodies in circles so that they’re contacting other dogs with their rumps. It’s pretty self-explanatory and when you see two body slammers going at it in a play session, it’s something of a wonder!

Wrestlers like to make full contact, like body slammers, but spend more time actually engaged with one another than running into one another. One dog will commonly get on top of another and “pin” that dog, and then the dogs will just as commonly change places, so that the “pinner” becomes the “pinned.” Dogs that play nicely as wrestlers will both change places with their playmate(s) and self-handicap as necessary.

Neck biting is another common element of wrestler play, and bared teeth are almost the norm – while it can look quite frightening if you don’t know what you’re witnessing, it’s generally harmless. Gentle neck biting play frequently occurs while both dogs are lying down.

Note that there are cues to be aware of and to look for with wrestling dogs. One in particular is a dog pinning another dog and not letting the pinned dog move when he wants to get up. Another is a long pause (what we call a “freeze”) by the pinning dog, sometimes in combination with a snarl.

Tuggers love to grab something – anything – and goad another dog into grabbing the other end. The dogs then proceed to play tug-of-war with one another. Anything seems to work – perfectly good “tug toys” often sit idle in favor of a stick!

Dogs with lots of energy, and certain breeds, like to chase one another and consider a good play session one where lots of ground is covered quickly. These dogs will often play tag with one another until the have to collapse on the ground panting…then they do it all over again.

Soft Toucher

Soft touching seems to be more common in shy dogs and older dogs. These dogs don’t want to engage in an all-out wrestling match, and would be aghast if one of their canine buddies started body slamming them. Instead, they feel comfortable with soft touches of the noses, nuzzling of the neck, and what appears to be “kissing” at times.

We’ve seen some dogs that just LOVE to play. To accommodate their innate desire to be in the middle of the action, they appear to adjust their play style to match their playmates at the time. It’s rare that any one dog will exhibit EVERY type of play style, but we’ve seen body slammers becomes chasers, wrestlers play tug, and so forth. We once witnessed a 75-pound lab/golden retriever mix use just it’s head to play with a 7-pound chihuahua, then chase after a ball, then wrestle with a larger dog (these were our own dogs, not those of clients). The bottom line here is that it’s a good idea never to make assumptions about what style of play your dog may engage in, and the size of your dog is not the only factor when determining play groups.

A Final Word on Dog Play Styles

We’re going to be exploring dog play styles in much more depth in the future, including how breed plays a large part in play style, how to create good dog play groups for dog daycare, and much more. This brief article just scratches the service of dog play styles and behavior, but we’ll be doing a “deep dive” on the topic going forward.

But what about small dogs and big dogs?

Glad you asked. We’ve observed many, many dogs playing with one another at our dog daycare, and we tend to know the dogs that attend our daycare very well. We know which dogs are best buds, which aren’t as fond of one another, which big dogs can play with small dogs, and which should be kept separate.

It is often the case that bigger dogs can play well with small dogs, and it happens frequently at our facility. HOWEVER, having a small dog around multiple larger dogs is where things can go awry. The rambunctious play of larger dogs – especially body slammers and wrestlers – could potentially hurt a small dog. This would be entirely unintentional, but poses a risk nonetheless.

Something we must also always be aware of is “predatory drift.” The terminology itself is quite descriptive, so you can probably guess what this means. In short, predatory drift is related to the prey drive that is inherent in dogs, where “prey drive” simply refers to a dog’s natural drive to pursue (typically small) prey. To observe this, watch your dog’s reaction to a squirrel running outside the window – your dog’s interest in the squirrel is related to his prey drive.

Now, some dogs may not care a bit about a squirrel running outside while they’re inside – place the dog in closer proximity, and that is likely to change. Where this tendency is worth noting (and watching) in a daycare or play setting is when dogs of different sizes are playing together. Since smaller dogs may resemble prey to larger dogs, it is possible for some almost imperceptible change to occur in the nature of play whereby the larger dog will become excited and tend to “drift” away from play and toward viewing the small dog as prey.

We deal with this by keeping small dogs and large dogs separated during the day, but then creating controlled “play groups” in a third area – either another room or outside in our fence-in area – so that the little guys and gals who love some of our larger dogs (and vice versa) get a chance to play together.

In this manner, the dogs in our care are kept safe at all times, but also have the opportunity to play with dogs of a variety of sizes (as we see fit) that they enjoy spending time with. And, yes, dogs do develop friendships of a sort that is kind of tough to fully describe, but very obvious once you actually witness it!


Understanding Instinct and Drive of Dogs

INSTINCT and DRIVE
The Controlling Influences on Domestic Dogs .
Very few dog owners or breeders understand the difference between intelligence, instinct and drive

Instinct and Drive:
Obedience work and basic training do not always give us the dogs we really wish for.

Most training methods depend almost entirely on correction and reward. Or in a worse case scenario reward only.

In reality, it is Dog’s natural instincts, that plays the vital role in the resultant behaviour we see in modern day dogs.

It is how we shape those drives and instincts, that will give us the results that we really want to see in our pets.

This article explains why and how you can harness these instincts and drive to help control your dog.

It is only in recent years that science has come to understand the complexities of the domestic dog and how they enhance and enrich our lives.

Origin of Domestic Dogs:
We first started sharing our lives with dogs many thousands of years ago.

I do not believe we domesticated dogs from local wolf packs. Many, including myself, are of the opinion that dogs effectively domesticated themselves.

The trigger was probably the appearance of either Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon people. or both. This may have happened, according to recent scientific studies, some 36,000 years ago. Evidence shows that both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon species were both prevalent at that time.

The move from early Stone Age nomadic hunter/gatherers, to when we started inhabiting permanent settlement. Becoming hunter/farmers could have possibly been the biggest catalyst that stimulated the rapid mutation of these dogs into accepting human contact, and therefore domestication began.

I believe it was then that dogs really became an integral part of our lives. They probably initially predated on the detritus of villages and settlements, and in doing so lost their innate fear of man. These feral dogs were seen to have many superior senses, drives and instincts, which were certainly of great benefit to those ancient tribesmen.

Part of the dog’s natural instincts was to hunt, guard, and give an alarm when danger threatened. Excellent instincts for an indigenous group of people that came to rely upon and use these traits to benefit their settlements

They were also accepted for their abilities to help garner food through hunting, and to aid the safety of the villages by alarm signals and overt aggression, thus aiding security and the overall well-being of the tribe. Their flesh was also an added bonus when times got particularly hard. Read my article. (1) The Origin of the Domestic Dog

Natural Instinct or intelligence?:
Man has used and worked with dogs for many thousands of years.

It is therefore somewhat surprising that dog owners and some trainers and behaviourists do not understand the difference between intelligence and instinct.

Intelligence is often confused with instinctual behaviour and drive. Instinct is genetic, it is not learned.

These instincts can be honed but that cannot be created or taught by humans.

No one teaches the mother to stimulate the pups to defecate and urinate by licking around their backsides.

Neither did intelligence play a part in her eating the resulting faeces and urine.

This happens for the first few weeks whilst the pups are helpless, blind, deaf and unable to move around and escape potential harm.

These actions keep the young pups safe from predators, that could easily scent the tiny helpless pups. It also keeps the den clean, dry, and free of harmful bacteria and toxins.

Intelligence also plays no part in the pups squirming to reach a teat That is purely a natural survival instinct.

Instincts are in the main pleasurable, therefore, usage strengthens and hones these actions.

There is, of course, species and breed specifics where certain instincts are far stronger.

Take for example the guarding instincts of the German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans. The herding instinct of the Collies, the hunting instincts of the Gundogs, such as Labradors, Spaniels and Hounds, not forgetting the digging and hunting instincts of the Terriers.

Sometimes we strengthen these instincts and drives inadvertently. Especially when it comes to Self Preservation. It is this instinct where fear and uncertainty is created. Which in turn can be a trigger for aggression and attacks on humans or other dogs?

Is your dog pulling on the Lead, Unruly, Bad Recall, Aggressive on Lead, Jumping Up?
See my article and Video Clips on how to stop this.
The Jingler

Instinct is not something you can teach. If I were the greatest dog trainer and behaviourists in the World (which I probably am). I could not teach a Pointer to point, or a Collie to clap. As a matter of interest, collie eye is called clapping. It is where the term “to clap eyes on” comes from. I often get calls from clients who think their young Collie has behavioural problems. It suddenly started staring at things like walls or shadows.

What it's doing is clapping. Daring the wall or the light to move, so it can herd it. If it could own its own tins of food it would probably make sure all the labels faced outwards. This may also be the first sign that the dog may be under stimulated. The reason why so many Collies get OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders) is that if they are stimulated and not discouraged from chasing/herding shadows, tails, or light sources.

That stimulates the behaviour to blossom and it then turns into an all-pervading obsession. If it is channelled or directed, and alternative stimulation presented, then it can be controlled. Lack of stimulation can also be the trigger for numerous canine behavioural problems.

Can Instinct Be Removed?:
Instinct can be strengthened, it can also be slightly diluted, channelled or redirected, but it cannot be removed.

I often say to my clients, that they should think of their dog’s behaviour as you would an alcoholic's addiction.

An alcoholic is always an alcoholic, whether he/she is in remission or not.

The all-consuming requirement for a drink is always hovering in the background. The same goes for certain behavioural traits in dogs.

We can put them in remission but we cannot always cure the problem entirely. The behaviour lies dormant but it is not cured. It can appear at some point in the future unless you are constantly vigilant and consistent.

Aggression:
People that train their dogs to be aggressive, often believe they can control their dog's aggression in all instances. They believe that their families are safe from the dog. But that is not true. The majority of fatal dog attacks and dog bites are in the home. Normally these attacks happen to family, friends, children and people the dog knows.

Stimulate a natural instinct like guarding, and you may be less than happy with the end result. Once developed it is very difficult to control or weaken. What you can do is to influence and reduce certain natural instincts as they arise. A perfect example of this is predatory chase aggression. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to treat dogs for chasing cars, bikes, joggers and livestock. Collies are often one of the leading specialists in this area, as are sight hounds and some gundog breeds.

It may surprise people to know that car chasing is not normally predatory chase aggression. It is a fear of traffic. They are chasing or lunging at the cars, bikes, buses and lorries to make them go away, therefore, treatment must be based on fear, not aggression. Writing this has made me realise I must write an article on this subject.

If correction is given when the young dog first shows signs of this trait, then the trait can be weakened and controlled. If the problem continues to grow and you do not get professional help, then it can be very difficult if not impossible to eradicate. The biggest mistake most dog owners make is they think the dog will grow out of it when in fact the opposite is true. Once those instincts are stimulated and not checked, they grow with maturity and age. They do not diminish without professional intervention.

The problem I come up against is who is professional? I find that the best way of working this out is how much information they have produced? If they have not produced one good article that makes sense, then do not touch them. They may have shiny degrees and doctorates however if that is just book learned then it is almost worthless without years of experience hands-on with dogs.

Self-Preservation:
Instinct covers many areas which include survival, guarding, hunting, maternal, pack, and last but not least self-preservation.

This last instinct is related to fear, aggression and anxiety. It may be surprising to some to learn that the majority of dog bites and attacks are based on self-preservation and therefore are fear based.

One of my areas of expertise is in aggression. I am an expert witness under the dangerous dog's act of 1991.

I represent and assess dogs in court that have fallen foul of the law. I also assess banned breeds for type and behaviour and I am assessing for many of the fostering agencies.

Nearly 95% of all the aggression cases I treat are fear related. The majority of them are caused by a number of factors The most prevalent are breeder and owner incompetence.

This includes lack of research, basic knowledge, common sense and trainer inexperience. This is mainly because of a lack of understanding of how dogs learn to think and analyse the world around them.

Breeders:
Probably the biggest impact on the end result of our dogs. Everyone seems to blame the owner, in reality, they are just one part of the equation. Even before the pups are born the breeder impacts the end results, in numerous ways.

These will include the choice of the sire and dam, their health, behaviour and temperament. These all have an impact on the outcome and final result of the puppies. I see many genetic problems in dogs that have been caused by the breeder. They include behavioural, health issues, anxiety, aggression and genetic abnormalities.

If the breeders have used the best and healthiest dogs, with the best temperament and health scores. Then, at least, that is a very good start, but only the beginning. They will still have a massive impact on the outcome of those puppies by their involvement until the puppies go to their new homes.

Socialisation, early training and experience of different people, sounds, smells and lots of handling, right from day one is absolutely imperative. This is vital to the end result. Unfortunately, these are not always understood or put in place

Read my article (2) Breeders Their Impact for further information

Owners:
These are normally the ones that get the blame for the end behaviour of their dogs. People do not understand that there are other people and reasons for the dog's behaviour.

That belief was started by "Old Tartan Knickers" Barbara Woodhouse when she coined the phrase " No Bad Dogs Only Bad Owners" Like many other things she did and said this was totally wrong.

However, where breeders and owners are really instrumental in the dog's behaviour, is the level of work they need to put into before the puppy reaches 16 weeks.

Puppy classes, socialisation, handling, training. are critical at this time. 12 weeks is also a really important watershed. It is by this time, at least, a hundred people should have handled the puppy.

This should also include lots of children. You should let your dog meet lots of other dogs but especially puppies in this period. Without that the Self-Preservation will be at the forefront and you will probably end up with a fearful and possibly aggressive dog.

Your puppy can meet lots of other vaccinated dogs before they have their second vaccination. It is just outside, where they can come into contact with faeces and other material that could be contaminated and cause disease. Therefore houses, gardens and pubs and places like that are normally OK for your new puppy.

Trainers and Behaviourists:
Like everything else, there are good and bad in everything. However, the latest fad, theory, bandwagon and buzz word is positive only trainers. They have even changed their name to "force free trainers" when it was pointed out that it is an impossible objective to be "Positive Only Trainer."

The very act of putting a lead on a dog is negative it is depriving the dog of the freedom it craves. Puppy trainers that do not allow the puppies to mingle with the other pups or other people to handle your pup in the classes are often worthless. I believe they do more harm than good. Read my article. (3) Killing with Kindness.

I see lots of so-called trainers that never allow the pups to even play off the lead with the other puppies. Do they not understand the basic premise of a puppy SOCIALISATION class. What do they think the word socialisation means? These people purporting to be trainers and behaviourists have in reality no idea of what is required for these types of classes.

In Conclusion:
Buy a dog that has instincts and drives that suit your family, house, environment and lifestyle.

Do not follow the fad of Designer dogs, where in many cases they have been bred from dogs with differing instincts, drives and requirements, without considering what impact that will have on these dogs.

Most of these dogs will not have health screening that many pedigree dogs have. (4) Designer Dogs Disaster or Success

Owning the right dog for you, should not be all about what they look like. It is about both your requirements and the dog's needs for a healthy and happy and fulfilled life.

Understanding your dog's drives and instincts are vital to understanding how to get the very best out of your relationships with these fascinating companions.

Choose the Breeder and the trainer carefully. Make sure the whole family agrees. Do lots of research. For some dog owning a dog will be a life-changing decision that will bring joy and happiness, to others, it could be an unmitigated disaster, in some instances leading to a tragic ending. Choose the right breed for your circumstances, and train and work with your pet's instincts and drive and you will end up with a successful partnership. I do not own my dogs, in reality, I see my relationship with my dogs as a mutual partnership, for the good of all of us.

Many years ago I decided to read up and study killer whales and how they were trained. A lot of Orca trainers were getting either injured or killed by the animals they were training. That research changed my mind entirely on how I believed dogs viewed their owners and how we should train our dogs and from that day on I changed my methods entirely but working on the fact that dogs view us as a resource, not another dog. Whether they see us as resource controllers will depend on how we work with and how we bond with our dogs. (5) The Alpha Myth

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© Stan Rawlinson
February 2015

Regularly updated last updated March 2019

(3) Killing with Kindness


Watch the video: Play Behavior in Dogs (July 2021).