A Dog Best Life

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A dog best life: Over the past few weeks, I have had a timely reminder of what dogs are capable of. They are wonderful animals that give us companionship, loyalty, and even happiness. But they are also animals and when one of our dogs killed a neighbor’s livestock I was shattered. Then I remembered – he’s a dog – he’s an animal and his behavior is balanced between 20% breed specifics and training and 80% instinct.

80%!! That’s a lot of wolves to deal with. And dogs are very closely related to wolves – they can even be inter-bred. Instinctive behavior is what dogs do automatically. It’s why they dig holes to keep themselves cool, urinate on every lamp post while out walking and turn around three times on their bed. In some cases, we don’t clearly understand why dogs do what they do but we know that it is based on their programming – on how their brains are wired to behave based on survival traits left over from ten of thousands of years living in the wild.

dog best life

This same dog attends dog best life 

This same dog attends obedience and agility classes; is a demonstration dog at my puppy classes and loves all the puppies; runs at a leash-free park at least 3 times per week; has never growled or barked at a human or other animal and one of our cats bosses him around (she growls at him and he freezes; too scared to walk past her). So what happened? How did he kill another animal?

Instinct and in particular, prey drive. I know from training that it is easy to turn on some dogs’ prey drive. It can be a matter of staring at their eyes or moving erratically near them. If your dog loves chasing and returning balls he or she may have a high prey drive. If they chase cats and smaller animals then they definitely have a high prey drive.

Some dogs seem to have no prey drive and others have lots. It is down to breed and also the environment a dog lives in has an impact. Herding breeds, like Border Collies and Kelpies, have a high drive and will chase and attack the livestock. It’s in their breeding and is shaped by the farmers so the dog can be of service on the land.

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Toy breeds and lap dog best life   

Toy breeds and lap dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Bichon Frise, seem to have little prey drive or none at all. This may be because the sorts of people who keep these types of dogs generally are not athletic or sporty. And so the dogs are not given the opportunity to chase balls or work in a training field.

Some people train the prey drive-in dogs for sports or service dogs. A guard dog that has no prey drive is useless because it won’t be interested in running down an intruder. A scent detection dog has to have the drive and focus to find the prey, in which case it may be a banned or illegal substance like drugs. Prey’s drive is instinctive and is trained and honed by experienced handlers.

I just wanted to remind my readers that their dog is exactly that – a dog – an animal that will react to certain stimuli in ways that we find abhorrent but for them, it’s just a matter of acting on instinct. There is nothing wrong with acting on instinct and it can’t really be stopped. It’s just what dogs do.

I have managed to save the dog best life

I have managed to save the dog’s life because where we live in Australia the dog would have been taken and destroyed without question. Thankfully the owner of the livestock didn’t want to press charges. We are moving out of the rural area in a few months so that the dog is not be tempted again.

This dog still trains each week and runs off-leash with his friends each day. He has never shown aggression again towards any person or animal. This is because he has never been put into a situation where his prey drive can be turned on. But it’s there and always will be because he is a dog; an animal and; a direct relation to a wolf. He’s also one of my best friends.

Related: How to Select the Best Dog Food?

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