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prey and defense

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by GK1, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. GK1

    GK1 Big Dog

    While a genetically prey driven APBT may instinctively pursue a hog as it does a rat for example, does this same prey drive factor in when the hog turns to counterattack?

    Dogs with genetically low prey drive levels, but high defense such the Russian Ochvarka, I’ve heard can be seriously effective man fighters under high pressure. Just as Dutch/Belgian/German Shepherds with genetically high levels of both prey and defense are effective with tracking/pursuing/apprehending humans.

    We hear of pit bulls having high levels of prey drive, and I think prey drive is fairly well defined in terms of working dogs. But I haven’t heard defensive drive being used to define a pit bull’s genetic traits, as is often with the above listed service and protection breeds.

    Curious about defensive drive theories (not gameness) in the pit bull…not necessarily against a human threat, but other animals committed to fighting back.
  2. slim12

    slim12 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Just like any other breed it is not a stamped trait in all of them.

    We had Filas for a while. Lots of defensive/territorial drive but few had actual pretty drive. I had one out of many.

    The APBT's the opposite. Tons of prey drive and very little defensive drive. My guess it is due to selective breeding for animal aggression.

    Pit bulls fight because they have been bred to do so for a number of years. Other breeds will fight but it is usually for some sort of possession, food, territory, etc.etc.. Other breeds must have fight drive built up/built in. The premise of prey drive plus defensive drive equals fight drive. In the Shephard families this has to be built in/built up. The intensely prey driven pit bull just skips right past the prey and defense being worked/built and just simply fights.

    Move one set of breeding selection criteria over and some of the pit bull cousins Am Staffs, Blue dogs, retain the intense prey drive and have some of the natural defensive drive. The coupling of the two leads to those cousins being better working dogs/service type dogs. Move another set of criteria over in the family to the American Bulldog and there is still the prey drive yet more defense and a better candidate for a working/service dog.

    The APBTs that do really well in the sport type work usually do so on prey drive alone with little to no defense drive.

    Not that I know anything but my theory would be the deeper the level of gameness/animal aggression (for no apparent reason other than selection in breeding) the lower the amount of defensive drive.

    Most dog bites to people/human aggression usually is from weak nerved, highly defensive driven fear biters. The amount of weak nerved fear biters (man biters) is relatively low because a lot of their dogs were culled as it is an undesirable trait. Most pit bulls, even the proverbial dead game dogs, are completely people friendly. No underlying possessiveness that lays some of the foundation for defense drive.

    Apologize for the babbling.

  3. corvettedex

    corvettedex CH Dog Premium Member

    Very well written my friend..
  4. Hunter Thompson

    Hunter Thompson Premium Member Premium Member

    Defense drive is fear motivated. I dont want fear motivating my working dog or my bulldog. Defensive dogs make it through some working trials, but the malinois jumping out of planes attached to a Navy seal are 100% prey/fight drive. I dont agree with prey plus defense equals fight drive. The really good working dogs have the same drives as really good bulldogs, tons of prey drive, an inborn desire for combat(fight drive), and very high nervous thresholds.
    Saiyagin likes this.
  5. slim12

    slim12 Super Moderator Staff Member

    When I was working dogs I learned it differently. Prey drive plus defense work equals fight drive. With out the basic defensive drives 99% of all dogs (animals) will choose flight over fight. In just about every other species of animals they will choose flight over fight.

    The game bred creatures (dogs and chickens) were bred to fight for no apparent reason other than they simply want to fight. The working class animals that simply were not bred to fight must be taught directed fight drive. All animals will fight for something and normally it is a possessive fight for food or territory or protecting their young. The work in defense makes this OK for the dog. It is not natural for these dogs to fight.

    The combination of prey and defense builds upon a sound genetic nerve base. Since fight is not natural and in nature the fights are defensive and not going forward there must be a release for the dog. That dog who jumps from a plane with a Navy Seal is doing so for the sole purpose of the reward at the end of the fight or end of the job, most of the time it is a simple tennis ball.

    Pit bulls, as a majority, do not have the defensive traits. Of course, some do and do very well in service work but they are not the norm. Most can compete in Schutzhund and Ring Sport type things but most do so in prey drive alone.

    There is a ton of information on the website Leerburg.com This guy Ed Frawley is one of the top authorities of working dogs in the world. There is a lot of work on the site from Michael Ellis who may be the premiere working dog guy in the world.

  6. Hunter Thompson

    Hunter Thompson Premium Member Premium Member

    When i first started training i learned the same way you did prey plus defense equalls fight. Ed will probably always argue that its correct, he has changed over the past 25yrs on obedience training so maybe he will see the light one day. Defense (fear) is where flight or fight comes from. If the dog has a strong defense reaction he will engage but with enough pressure he will choose flight. The prey/fight drive dog never feels fear so flight never enters the equation. they fight because they like it, maybe its from selective breeding or training and not natural i dont know, i just know the good ones fight to satisfy a drive to fight. Keep in mind there are very few like this, in 25yrs of training i have only seen a handful. Never seen one in a sch club.

    Fight for resources i.e. food, territory etc is social aggression, is different from defense. social aggresive animals fight strangers or anything not in their pack untill the opponent submits or quits fighting back.(quitting on top?) Watch what wolves do when a strange wolf enters their territory. social aggression is not common now days, and takes a vigilant handler.

    I agree with most pit bulls doing sport work in prey, just like every other breed doing it. The defensive dogs thresholds for defense are raised thru training so they are actually in prey most if not all the time they are in a trial. The special ones, the ones at the top of the food chain do it in prey/fight, they know when they have a mouth full of bitesuit and counter in for some flesh. another example is the defense driven dogs first reaction to aggitation is barking, the prey/fight drive dogs first reaction is engage, which can be a pain in the ass teaching bark and hold for sch.

    I also agree about michael, he is an awesome trainer/teacher, maybe better than his teacher Ivan. Im sure if you ask Michael (when ed is not listening) if he wants a dog with defense drive he will say hell no.
    david63 and Saiyagin like this.
  7. slim12

    slim12 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Very possible. All things change in time. It has been nearly 20 years since I put on a bite suit/sleeve.

    I did it as a fill-in one day and I think it was akin to smoking crack or shooting heroin. I was a bite suit addict after that. My dogs training got cut short just so I could put the suit on again for someone else's dogs. LOL

    I went to a couple Frawley seminars in the 90's. I was around bulldogs since I was 8 or 9 but back-door inherited an imported Rott. Just as I got out of the service a buddy of mine who was a K-9 handler in the Army imported a Rottweiler from Austria or Belgium. His orders changed just after and I was suppose to keep him for a short while. A couple months turned into forever.

    I ended up being a dumbass owner/handler with and incredibly gifted dog. He had few short comings but all of his stemmed from all of mine. He lived to be 13-14 and was a heck of a dog.

    Babbling again. Back then that was they way it was taught and since I no longer do bite work I am no longer in the know.

    If I were going to defend the use of defensive drive I would say it allows the dog time to think and process. The extremely prey driven animals are fight now and think later. I imagine in some areas of work that may be preferred. Like you said the bark and hold is murder on those extreme prey driven animals. For them, breathing is considered an unjustified movement and that ass is bit lickety split.

    The flip side is the dogs with heavier defense are slow on the 'sends' too. My Filas would kill a man in my house or my yard, but could give two shits if you were 50 feet away. They simply did not see the point of having to chase you down and wax your ass too, whereas those prey driven dogs will chase one to hell and back just to get a chance to fight/bite.

    Great posts.

  8. GK1

    GK1 Big Dog

    This is not a simple topic. Some well thought out responses here which I appreciate.
  9. GK1

    GK1 Big Dog

    Prey, defense, fight drive..transitions between? Does it matter if the dog gets the job done?
  10. slim12

    slim12 Super Moderator Staff Member

    I do not think it really matters in sport work. Mostly because there is nothing close to real harm on the other end. Whatever drive the gets the job done will suffice.

    When one gets into real service work when there are real bad guys doing real harm in return it starts to make a difference. In prey drive in sport work it is all a game. The dog really never feels any pressure because he is playing one game just to get to his tennis ball or end reward.

    If a dog is doing serious service work in defensive drive alone when things do not go his way or they frustrate, even hurt him, he will bail.

    I learned, and it was a long time ago, that the prey plus defense laid the basis for fight drive. The dog has combined the two so many times, won all the little battles, and then was rewarded for doing so. He knows nothing but going til he wins.

    The kicker to this is that the training fights always last longer than the real thing. A guy in a suit/sleeve can fight(work) a dog for several minutes in a session. A bad guy in a T-shirt gives it up usually before the bite happens and if not, within a bite or so.

    Like a lot of game dogs they win before they find that breaking/cur point. Service dogs the same. Lots of police dogs are certified and serve their purpose. Most apprehensions are completed long before the dog gets close to that breaking(flight) point.

    Getting back to the last post, personally, I do not think it really matters where the dog is at mentally as long as the job gets done.

    Sometimes when it comes to the dogs getting a job done we have to have the warm fuzzies as well.


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