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 Animal Behavior by Lee Robinson

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Number of posts : 34
Registration date : 2007-12-20

PostSubject: Animal Behavior by Lee Robinson   Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:16 am

Breeds don't define the behavioral terms. They display the behaviors. The focus of this article is behavior, not breeds.

The degree to which a dog displays a behavior may be influenced by the breed and dog...but never the less...the terms themselves are unified for all they don't define breeds, but behaviors.

First, lets define drive. A drive is a behavior that is motivated or displayed in order to preserve a species. Sex drive for example is the desire to procreate..., which preserves the species.

Behaviors include...

1. Prey drive - The desire to chase, hunt, catch kill...for food. What some people call "play drive" when a dog chases a ball is actually prey drive even though the ball is not food. It is the instinctive response to catch (and typically bite) the object. This drive supplies food, which is obviously a necessary component of life and therefore prey drive, as do all drives...preserves the species. The perfect example is the cat and mouse...or dog and rabbit.

2. Defense drive - The natural reaction to defend against a threat, preserved threat, or protect themselves, others, or what they possess. Defense has many degrees. There are courageous defenders that are forward. There are fear biters that would opt for flight if given the chance...leading to the phrase "fight or flight" that often pops up when discussing defense drives. The perfect example of defense is a coyote or wolf protecting its den from a bear. If the coyote is courageous (perhaps motivated in this example by protecting it den with young pups in it views the need to protect as worth the risk of courage in this case)...the coyote or wolf may actually pursue the bear until the bear is a safe distance from the den. If the wolf is not courageous (or feels the den isn't pups), the wolf may leave...or "cur" to choose flight...realizing that success may come at too big a cost for little gain. This behavior is species preserving and is therefore defined as a drive. There are also other aspects of defense such as rank drive, which is about protecting one's position or rank (by being combined often with other desires such as sex drive or other benefits of status). Because rank is different in some ways that many of the other aspects of defense I believe it should be defined totally separately from rank isn't "true defense" although it is a form of defense and therefore has some things in common with defense. More on that later.

3. "Fight drive" - I put in quotes because true fight drive doesn't exist in a natural world. Very few people truly understand what real "fight drive" is. Fight drive is only found among a few domesticated animals that have been selected to fight. In the natural world, fighting an unnecessary battle causes extinction...or death. Therefore, by definition of the term fight drive, it can't be labeled as a "natural drive" in that it isn't a behavior motivated to preserve the species. HOWEVER, in the domesticated certain populations (such as game fighting dogs), if a dog quit then was not permitted to breed. Only the ones that would win were allowed to breed...and over time (with the help of using medicine to preserve winning dogs that would have otherwise died)...the dogs got "gamer" and "gamer" until "game dogs" began displaying a behavior that would cause their own extinction if it wasn't for the aid of man and medicine. These dogs we saved and admired...and bred. So, what was unnatural developed into a "species preserving behavior in an UNNATURAL and DOMESTICATED WORLD...hence "artificial selection" creating "an artificial drive" known as "fight drive."

4. Rank drive - is simply trying to obtain dominance. I have studied and observed two forms of Rank drive. Intraspecies rank and interspecies rank.

A. Intraspecies rank drive is normal rank drive behavior, which is the desire to move UP WITHIN THE PACK for things like breeding rights, first at food, etc...(Intra-species rank has nothing to do with humans). It is a desire to obtain dominance ONLY within the given species and not directed towards other species. Some degree of intraspecies rank is to be expected among all social animals.

B. Interspecies rank is when rank drive/dominance crosses the species barrier (and is directed towards humans)...and is not normal in most animals and even in many breeds of dogs, but has been selected for in SOME lines of dogs (such as the GSD, Rottie, Mal, Chow Chow, Sharpea, and others). It is BASICALLY defined as dominance towards humans or other non-canine animals...and is often linked to what is known as social aggression. Although many traditionalists desire a degree of interspecies rank or social aggression among police and military types of service dogs, it is my believe that interspecies rank is unacceptable for a family companion guardian type of dog.

5. Cur - this is not a drive. This is a behavior. It describes and animal that quits as a result of realizing success isn't likely. This is both a positive and a negative. In the natural nature it promotes survival...which is good. A natural world a canine shouldn't fight a loosing battle, not if it wants to live and reproduce. For some types of domesticated dogs though this is not desirable. Fighting dogs, protection dogs, and even tracking dogs have been selected to not quit their job...and for these groups a "cur" is not desired. A rank driven dog will often cur when it sees it can't dominate, therefore a term developed known as "rank cur" came about when a dog would bluff or even start rough, but that would quickly realize it wasn't going to dominate their opponent and then quit rather decisively.

6. Game - this is not a drive. This is a descriptive term that is often used to refer to a dog that won't quit and that always sees himself as winning or matter how bad they get.

7. Courage - Is not a drive, but is a measure of confidence and in some cases overlaps to stability and nerve.

8. Stability - This is not a drive, but is a measure of "clear headedness." A stable dog does not flip flop or redirect with inappropriate behaviors regardless of stress. Although redirecting behaviors are expressed in response to stress...A stable dog may have strong nerve, but does not require strong nerve. A weak nerved dog could also be stable by simply shutting down. To help clarify this unique behavior, let's refer to many game dogs for examples. It is known many game dogs will not bite a person even in a heated fight even under stress in that "driven" environment. These dogs will often remain focused on their opponent regardless of the stress (not redirecting = stability) yet the same dog may shut down when taken into a noisy busy shopping area or traffic (expressing stress = weak nerve). Although nerve and stability are connected, they are not the same.

9. Nerve - This is not a drive. Nerve relates to a behavioral expression of stress. A strong-nerved dog is a dog that isn't easily stressed. A weak nerved dog is a dog that is easily stressed.

10. Threshold - This is not a drive. If there is any aspect of animal terminology that is often misunderstood...this would be one such term. A threshold refers to the amount of stimuli required to elicit a change in behavior. In other words, a threshold is what is needed to cause a new response by stimulating it. A clear example would be a stimulus strong enough to the illicit the "fight" option of defense drive...but not so strong to cause flight. A threat presents itself and the dog/animal responds by showing a change in behavior (aggression). Then there are ALSO thresholds that cap that behavior by again causing a new response. Take the same example of defense, but now say the heat of the threat gets turned up and causes the dog/animal to change from the fight option to the flight response. By ending the fight option and started a new behavior we capped the fight threshold and just caused the flight response. And now take it further...and say the dog has ran so long that it is exhausted and must lay down...this again is a new stimulus (tired) and therefore caused a new response (laying down/no longer if flight).

Lee Robinson, M.S. Animal Sciences

let me know your thoughts on this .
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PostSubject: Re: Animal Behavior by Lee Robinson   Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:30 am

That was full of info Nick!! Great posting.

First they ignore me. Then they laugh at me. Then they fight me. Then I win. -Ghandi-
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PostSubject: Re: Animal Behavior by Lee Robinson   Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:05 am

Good stuff, I'm saving that.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal Behavior by Lee Robinson   Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:02 am

That is great info. A well bred APBT should display the best of all those characteristics. It's the dogs who display the undesireable traits like instability, weak nerve and lack of confidence coupled with irresponsible ownership that give the breed a bad name. Thanks to BYB...
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