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Bite Work

Understanding the Different Drives

By Dondi Hydrick

Bite work training, when done properly, is one of the most challenging tasks of dog training. Yet it can be one of the most rewarding tasks.

The extreme variations in temperament of the dogs being worked makes it challenging. Bite work is based on a given dog’s ability to deal with the stressors that we must expose it to so we can teach it to overcome any given stressor. A good working dog must display the ability, from a young age, to react without fear when exposed to varied threats. To be successful in this training, decoys need to have a thorough understanding of the drives within a dog’s temperament and the drive thresholds used in bite work. Most importantly, a decoy needs to know how to read the dog so he can recognize which drive the dog is working, and how and when additional stressors can be placed on the dog, or when stressors need to be reduced.

It seems that nowadays many in the dog training world want to add the word drive for everything a dog does: sex drive, food drive, ball drive, tracking drive. The list goes on and on. All drives are based on certain needs that the individual dog and the species have. Sex drive is nothing more than the desire to pass on strong characteristics that will enhance the offspring’s chances of survival. Food drive is nothing more than the drive for that animal to survive.

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