I think alot of people confuse drive with arousal/hyperactivity
I am dealing with a high drive dog right now that has broken on honor in our first two attempts at Senior passes - after doing the best work in both as told to me by both sets of judges. Right after they told me "I'm sorry." At least they were polite.
My dog's problem is not his high drive; it is his idiot first-time handler/trainer. I only have one dog, and I (very foolishly, as it turns out) let him pick up way too many marks, leading him to conclude at this stage that he is supposed to retrieve everything that falls. He can hold it together at the line - because he assumes he is going to be allowed to go get the birds. It does not hold together like that on honor, when I tell him "no bird" and he thinks another dog is going to get "his" bird.
That last part is the real problem: they are supposed to be MY birds that I may or may not allow him to retrieve. I really wish I would have understood it this way several months ago. We are looking at some long therapy, but the early returns are good. As a rank amateur currently dealing with this problem, here are some things I wish I would have done differently.
1. Once you figure out your dog likes to chase stuff, you can be assured they have enough desire to do some work. From that point on with a truly high-drive dog you are working to get them to utilize that desire within in the framework of our rules.
2. Your rules need to be very strict and very consistent with any dog, but even more so with a high-drive dog. When somebody tells you to keep your OB standard high because you'll only get a percentage of that at a hunt or dog event, they mean it. And they mean 20%, not 90%. Embrace it.
3. When you think your rules are strict enough with a high-drive dog, tighten them up (within reason and in balance, of course). You should know that a "little flinch" forward in training that you think is so cool because it shows you that dog wants the bird will be a 3-foot creep on the line at a hunt test. Or possibly a break on an honor after smoking the test. Possibly twice. No movement at all (other than the head following your foot around as you have trained them) is best. Don't let them have an inch that they can use to take a mile.
4. Use their birdiness against them. If they are truly high-drive, and have the bottom to go with it, they can take a lot of physical pressure (collar and otherwise) AS LONG AS THEY END UP GETTING THE BIRD. The bird is everything to this dog, so the punishment for movement or acting crazy on the line (training or otherwise) is YOU WALKING OUT THERE AND PICKING UP THE BIRD. DO THIS EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY FAIL TO PLAY BY THE RULES IN ANY WAY.
5. You'll get a lot of advice that you really need to "tear that dog up" or "show that dog who the boss is." If you let it go as long as I have there will probably have to be at least a couple come to Jesus meetings to break up the expectations and get the dog to at least think about what is going on. But I think the beating method for this dog is not the long-term answer. Physics being what it is, pressure applied has to come out somewhere, and God forbid you really make this dog nervous around you. He doesn't need another excuse to get up and move.
6. The better answer is going to be picking up the birds when the dog does not play by the rules - and sometimes when the dog plays by the rules. Remember, this dog above all needs to decide that the birds are yours, and the result of attempting to make them his is - you guessed it - denial of the bird.
7. As a very wise dog person told me today, if the high-drive dog is not managed this way, then he ends up like a 14-year-old boy when a pretty girl walks into the room. He wants to just run over to her and, well, you know, but he has to learn that doing it that way will destroy any chance he may have of getting what he wants. Actually he said "your dog is like a 14-year-old boy", but I digress.
I have to learn everything the hard way, apparently, so we are in for 3-6 months of rehab on this issue. And then we will manage it for the rest of his life.
Onward and upward, as they say. This dog is teaching me a lot about dog training, among other things.
HR Belle's Rolling Big Rig "Jimmy"
So right now, as I said, I'm a student of Hillman's stuff. He is a big advocate of the balanced dog. He has a drill called Traffic Cop that makes a lot of sense. But what he said that made the light turn on for me is that the dog is released when his attention is riveted on the handler not the duck (or bumper). Though the DVD is intended for the owners of puppies, he says that it can be used to rehabilitate an adult dog. Takes about a LOT more to fix the problem, but the drill is supposed to be very helpful for adult dogs who aren't rock solid. I like it because it is simplicity itself. Haven't tried it yet so I shouldn't endorse it. But you watch day to day as he works a young dog on it. No fuss. No high-tech stuff. Not a lot of set-ups and simulations. It's not about the retrieve, it's about the dog's focus and directing it onto the handler.
I have not seen the Hillman stuff yet, but I have heard lots of good things about it. You can bet I will be purchasing a copy before I take on another pup. And my next pup will of course be completely different and all my hard-won "knowledge" will be out the window.
Headed outside to work on reeducation.
HR Belle's Rolling Big Rig "Jimmy"
Too much? Nah,no such thing! Seriously, I believe the Hillman system would have made a huge difference in my older dog, IF, and this is an important IF, I had had the experience and skills to carry it out properly and understand the basic philosophy. The program will not help you if are a beginner alone. You need a watchful eye over your shoulder. Having said that, I have raised my young dog with Hillman's and could not ask for better results. But as Steve said above, he is a completely different type of dog and might have been just fine without. But I believe it is the best chance you have with a wild one.
Owned and handled by Cruisin' with Indiana Jones, JH
Alternate Handler: Westwind Buffalo Soldier
Apprentice Handler: Snake River Medicine Man, JH
As this is a "Christmas puppy", and we'll be limited due to winter conditions, the simplicity of Hillman's method (a handler, a dog, a bumper... for the most part) we need not waste a day before Spring rolls into summer and we can do transition on land and water.
it's doubtful that any amateur trainer can ever control a dog with true high-drive---most pros can't. The amount of discipline required to control that kind of dog is more than any trainer wants to administer--they're no fun to train. this is the kind of dog that draws a crown at a trial---they want to see how he will crash and burn today. Dogs with that kind of high drive come with a very low trainability level. which make them extremely difficult to train, even as a gun dog.
NO DOG WILL PERFORM TO HIS TRAINING LEVEL UNLESS HIS HANDLER IS CAPABLE OF MAKING HIM DO SO!
IMO there isn't such thing as to much prey drive, its the animal's ability to consistently balance what they love or want to do with a trained response. As most know all dogs mature at different ages and I believe that most people mistake "high driven or Hot" with either slow maturing or an animal that truly doesn't know how to properly respond to the situation at its been put in. Energy that dogs show at the line tell us what avenues a trainer might need to take so that this animal can maintain focus and control which will then lead to success. To much prey drive isn't why a dog is dancing, barking or breaking at the line. Most of the time its a result of yesterdays training.
I would sure like to know your method of easily fixing this, because I have tried a bunch. Granted he is still a young dog 22months and is getting better and better, but even know qualified for the Grand and fully capable (performance wise), he looseness at the line would have him out quick! Thanks in advance....there are a few others in our club with similar problems, but not to the same degree.
FYI his healing, sitting and recall are at CDX levels normally.
Last edited by Bwanar; 11-18-2013 at 04:18 PM.
Yes it can be controlled, I hunted with a cosmo daughter a few years ago and she was young and would whine in the blind, but the following year when i hunted with her the owner had taught her to be quiet. I personally love a high drive dog, but some dont and dont want to take the time with them so they say they have tooo much drive