What are Drives in Dogs?

What are Drives in Dogs?

FAQ: What are Drives in Dogs?

Drives in dogs are survival-related needs. Dogs can encounter many different situations. If a situation or condition requires a dog to take action to increase the likelihood of its survival or the survival of its species in general, it has a need for action.

We consider this need for action a negative state of tension that the dog can only satisfy by taking the needed action. The need proceeds the action. For this reason, the need is often said to motivate or drive the action. Because of this motivational characteristic of needs, they are regarded as producing primary drives in dogs. This is not unique to dogs. It applies to all animals.

Example: A Squirrel Runs Up a Tree

A dog sees a squirrel move. The movement of a small animal is the situation.

Catching and eating prey is a survival requirement. So chasing, catching, and killing it is the needed survival action.

The behavior triggers, regardless of whether the dog is hungry or not; that is irrelevant. Dogs genetically enjoy all survival-relevant activities by themselves. Until the dog starts chasing it, it will be in a negative state of tension. Only engaging in chasing will relieve the negative tension. This particular behavior is part of what is considered prey drive. There are other drives.

Drive Theory

Drive theory is based on the principle that organisms are born with certain psychological needs and that a negative state of tension is created when these needs are not satisfied. When a need is satisfied, the drive is reduced, and the organism returns to a relaxed state. 
– Clark Hull, Principles of Behavior, 1943)

For more on dogs, read our articles The Dog: A Brief History and Dogs: The Canine Model. You can also read the book Principles of Behavior (PDF) by Clark Hull, 1943.

If you are ready to get help with your own dog(s), please use our dog training contact form to schedule a free phone consultation.


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Services and Area

We are located in Southern California and train dogs nationwide. Happy Dog Training currently offers local dog training services in the following counties. Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. In addition, we offer our board-and-train program nationwide and all virtual training services worldwide.

Do you want your new puppy trained right from the start? Are you looking for help for your fearful dog? Do you need to resolve a severe aggression problem? You came to the right place! We are experienced, professional dog trainers. Ralf has trained over 1500 dogs in over 18 years, and Sarah has trained over 1200 dogs in over 11 years. Consequently, we can help you with any dog training goal.

For many of our clients, we train their dogs from puppyhood, getting them off to a great start. However, we also have extensive experience training rescue dogs from all imaginable backgrounds and circumstances. Our Board-and-Train program is our most popular.

We can help you, regardless of your dog's challenges or training goals. Being a professional dog trainer means having experience, knowledge, and skill. Further, we developed a highly effective training program to specifically help fearful dogs gain more confidence and become the best possible version of themselves. Building Confidence is our second most popular training program.

Last but not least, we are experts in dealing with all types of aggression in dogs and are often the trainers of last resort after many other programs have failed. Most of our aggressive dog clients previously spent significant money on half-baked solutions without much improvement. This is different from us. We will give you an honest assessment of what goals are realistic for your dog. We will tell you what can be resolved reliably and what likely needs to be managed before we start.

Our flagship product is our board and train program. But our virtual dog training and coaching services have become quite popular over the last couple of years. Our setup enables us to deliver online dog training services from our indoor and outdoor training areas. This allows us to help clients worldwide.

Also, check out our Free Dog Training tips on Separation Anxiety in Dogs, Potty Training aka Housebreaking, and Leash Handling for expert solutions to common challenges.

Additional Services: Presentations and Q&As on Dogs | Professional Service Dog Training

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