In this episode, Kayla talks to Sarah Dixon about the concept of drive in dogs. Sarah is the president of the board of the International Association of Animal Behavior. She works at Instinct Dog Training in New York City.
You can learn more about Sarah here.
We started out by discussing three main ways that we see the phrase “drive” being used:
- Saying that a dog “has high X drive.” This may be for food, toys, play, or prey.
- Saying that a dog “is high drive.” This implies it’s a permanent state of the dog.
- Saying that a dog is “in drive.” This implies it’s a gear in a car, which it’s not!
We decide that, for us, drive generally means that a dog is willing to work hard to gain access to a reinforcer. Dogs might have different ideal reinforcers (tug versus food, for example). Drive is related to arousal, but they’re not the same thing.
Basically, the problem with “drive” is that it’s a label. It’s used as if it’s a permanent characteristic of a dog, which isn’t necessarily true. That sort of thinking can be potentially limiting for the dog and the trainer. It’s also problematic that every trainer probably has a different definition of what drive means – making it difficult to discuss this intelligently.
For Further Information:
- Animal Training Academy podcast with Sarah
- Sarah’s Hair of the Dog Podcast
- Teaching a Foodie Dog to Tug
- Maximizing Food Drive
- Lori Waters – Bayside K9
- Emily Hilgenberg – Canine Momentum
- Kayla’s Loose Leash Walking class
Kayla grew up in northern Wisconsin and studied ecology and animal behavior at Colorado College. She founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She’s an avid adventurer and has driven much of the Pan-American Highway with her border collie Barley. She now travels the US in a 2006 Sprinter with her two border collies, Barley and Niffler. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams.