The difference between prey drive & hunting instinct

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Barked: Mon Oct 1, '12 7:12am PST 
I think prey drive is more to describe the juvenile-like way of just chasing things. No method to it, just chase.

Whereas hunting instinct is used more to describe a more methodical approach. I think someone said something similar above? Same general thing though.

Here it'd be described as prey drive given just the total carelessness about the chase.

And this is more methodical, hunting instinct. An actual attempt to catch. He actually tries. Although gets confused by the initial lack in movement. Pheasants aren't that smart. laugh out loud

I don't think that stalking always means hunting instinct nor that hunting instinct is just stalking. It's just when the dog seems to really have it thought out what he wants. He has a goal. Whereas prey drive is more just for funzies. That's my take on it anyway.
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Wed Oct 3, '12 12:34pm PST 
In her blog, Suzanne Clothier, a marvelous writer and trainer, has an entry entitled "Drive and Brakes and Steering." I'd like to quote from it some.

"For those who find the whole notion of biting and gripping worrisome, perhaps it is easiest to think about it this way: substitute "bite" or "grip" with retrieve, herd, chase. All of these behaviors are aspects of the predatory sequence. In his books DOGS, Ray Coppinger does a wonderful job of explaining the predatory behavior chain - I often recommend his book solely for that chapter.

In our dogs, the behaviors we see are the same ones that would be seen in a wolf's predatory sequence . These behaviors are instinctive, a natural part of the canine behavioral repertoire. Perhaps most importantly, when expressed by our domestic dogs, these behaviors can show considerable deviation from the natural behavior.

Specialized breeds reflect the results of selective breeding for specific behaviors or exaggerations of some behaviors or inhibition of other behaviors.Thus herding dogs exhibit strong chase behaviors but with inhibited bite/grip and highly inhibited killing behaviors, The Border Collie's famous "eye" is a result of generations of breeding for an exaggeration of a natural behavior. Bird dogs have the bite/grip intensely inhibited, thus the desired "soft mouth." In the case of pointing breeds, the naturally occurring stalk behavior is exaggerated to become a frozen "point".

The bite/grip/grab behavior is strong in many working lines, and there is a genetic component to how the dogs grip, where they grip, what will trigger a bite or grip. For example, some dogs bite low while others come up higher -- this becomes very clear when you see dogs worked on sheep or cattle. Are they moving the animals by nipping towards their heels (thus the term "heelers")? or grabbing a hindquarter or going higher for the shoulder/neck or higher still for nose ("headers")?

For many working lines (police K9, Schutzhund, ring sport, etc), there is a tendency to bite hard and to grip with a full mouth bite that goes right to the molars. This is prized, and for good reason: in an attack situation, you want the dog bringing his entire jaw power to bear, not merely the incisors and canines (sometimes called a "bitchy" bite, a grip that is more easily dislodged). These full, hard bites are evident from an early age in puppies from these lines, just as birdy pups demonstrate a keen interest in things with feathers, and field bred retriever puppies carry things, and herding puppies respond to moving things with delight.

Selective breeding is a way of engineering a bigger engine for that behavior (or set of behaviors), so that we can easily shape those behaviors into what we want, whether that's a retrieve of a duck or sheep neatly penned. But balance is the key in any working performance. If you think of instinctive behavior as the engine that drives the dog, then the balance comes in the form of the brakes and steering and multiple gears that allow that engine to be effectively utilized to good purpose. Just as it would not be okay to let a herding dog chase sheep willy-nilly or treat a toddler like an errant ewe, it's also necessary to teach a strong biting dog what is and is not appropriate for those jaws."

I think Clothier explains this question the best. thinking

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Wed Oct 3, '12 3:16pm PST 
I think "prey drive" is something more instinctive and basic and "hunting instinct" is a modified (selectively developed) part of that drive. To me prey drive is a desire to kill things, very basic and critically important for survival. This strong instinct has been preserved in many types of dogs, both intentionally as in terriers, and not bred away from in Nordic breeds. The idea of hunting instinct is generally reserved for sporting breeds and refers to specific traits, like pointing or retrieving. These are unique traits (or parts of the prey capture sequence) that were isolated and enhanced through selective breeding.

My God-dog is a Sammy mix Brady and he has a huge prey drive. I was walking him once with my two pups and my guys who were off leash found an opossum, my Selli just wanted to sniff it and my Duff, a Sheltie Mix, barked at it. I went over with Brady on a leash (because I know how he is), to stop Duffy from barking, and I got one step too close and that was the end of the opossum. I have a friend who has a Brittany Cooper who one day brought her an opossum and dropped it in front of her. She thought the opossum was dead but she saw it run off a few minutes later. Brady had the desire to kill the opossum while Cooper just had the desire to bring it to her.

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