There are many drives that a dog has there is food drive, play drive, and prey drive to name a few. I will briefly talk about each and then Ill explain the reason for this.
food drive is also known as hunger drive. This is your dog’s motivation for food. Usually you will see this with hungry dogs. A dog that has not eaten all day will be excited to do whatever you ask in order to get the reward, which is food. Food drive goes down as you give a dog food and treats. You need a hungry dog to have the motivation for food. There are exceptional dogs that will continue to eat after they are full and puppies have a large appetite for food. However, the average dog will get full and no longer be motivated for food.
Play drive is a dog’s motivation for play. A lot of working dogs love to play tug or retrieve. You will see this with dogs who go crazy for a ball or crazy for any toy. They go from normal and casually walking around to being fired up and ready to go. If you are following me on Instagram( which you should be) you can see a little clip of a video of a Belgian Malinois that was so driven for his toy that he was shaking uncontrollably.
Prey drive is similar to play drive. The difference is that when a dog is in prey drive he likes to chase things. This same dog could love a certain toy, but when you move the toy away from him the fun really begins. This can be used in pet dog training, but we will mostly use food and play drive.
How to use food drive to your advantage
First I would like to say that most of us Americans feed our dogs like we feed ourselves- too much. When I worked in an animal hospital I heard one of the Vets talk about how its healthier if a dog is a little skinny. That might shock some people as they immediately think of abuse when they see skinny dogs. After that brief form of self expression lets talk about how to help you motivate your dog using their food drive.
Dog must be hungry for food.
To be honest, some of the dogs I’ve seen can afford to skip a meal. Its not going to kill them Obesity will however. Feed your dog regularly as you do. When you take them out for a training session notice their energy levels. Do they swallow the food whole or do they have a “ i could take it or leave it” attitude? If its the latter then, your dog needs to skip a meal. The next day the should come back ready to work for their food.
Feed your dog only from your hand and not out of a bowl. Use training time to feed them . There are no free meals over here
Quality of rewards is very important. A major reason a lot of dogs have a “ i can take it or leave it " attitude is because the food that you give them sucks. The treats are dry and not tasty at all. Try giving your dog a cooked piece of chicken and watch how their attitude changes.
Size of reward matters also. For a small dog dont give a huge piece and for a big dog dont give a small piece of food. It sounds like common sense but its not. Many people I’ve seen give a dog the size of a German shepherd a piece of food smaller than a penny.
How to use play drive to your advantage
Play drive increases with time unlike food drive. You want to work with whatever your dog naturally likes. I was guilty of trying to get a dog to play tug with me when the dog prefer to chase balls. When I stop doing it my way and did it his way training became much easier.
Have a toy you dog likes. This could be a ball or tug or another object.
Never let the dog play with the object by themselves. The toy should represent an interactive game with you. All good things come from you. You are like Sana Claus to the dog.
Get the dog to bring the ball or toy back to you. This is an indicator that the dog enjoys the interaction and not just self satisfying on the toy alone.
Monitor your dog’s energy levels. If your dog is allowed free reign they will use up their energy whenever they feel like it. This may not be good for you as it may be when you are trying to sleep. Instead set up a schedule and know when you are going to train. If its at 1 pm then keep your dog’s energy level relatively low early in the day so that all that bottled up energy can be put into training instead of jumping on the furniture. Use a crate for this.( It is important that your dog is crate trained first.) Take your dog out in the early morning to use the bathroom. Come back home and have your dog go on the place bed and stay or put them in the crate.
By following what is written above you can surely get your dog motivated to do the behavior you are asking of them.