Don says in a private message he can read from the
list but not answer to the list!
There is another thought in my mind about prey
drive when I think of usually cooperative dogs like springers and border collies
for ex. These dogs seem to have a good "social competence", so to say, and enjoy
to play and work with anyone who they trust and who wants to have fun with them.
This can best be seen with socially well trained dogs that are used to interact
with people. For example they can directly accept to search for any object that
in no way can resemble game, like a wooden stick with some human scent on it.
Likewise they are just as happy to search for game, to hunt. They can have the
same mental stamina like a good setter to search for game on empty ground, they
will not give up since they know they might find something in the next bush. The
actual motivation to work with stamina without a reward might be
different from the setters.
The difference to the setter is that many of
the setters will do this with a minimum of support from its handler at a
distance of a 1/4 or 1/2 mile or more. It keeps track of its handler and adjust
its course to the handlers, yes, but most of the work is done independently. In
this case we can say, without much doubt (since there is actually nothing more
around the setter to mix things up than its own hope for a find), that it is
only a strong prey drive that keeps the setter going on.
Spaniels are on the other hand a bit more
complicated in their mentality. They are not only powered by prey drive but also
by many other stimuli. As I mentioned they often really like to interact
with humans and this could be called a "drive" that keeps them going. They
also have a lot of competition drive, in other words they like to work hard with
their body like when chasing game in awfully thorny bushes or struggling with a
wingshot duck in thick reed. Tug - of - war is their favourite game
and you have often to be careful not to strengthen this mental characteristic by
My theory is that such a dog does not need much
actual inherited prey drive in order to work hard and with stamina on the field
as a classic sporting gundog like a rough shooters dog. The combination of the
pleasure to work with its handler and the pleasure of working hard with its body
might compensate for a lack in inherited prey drive. An ignorant observer might
think that this particular spaniel has a lot of inherited prey drive but
that does not have to be the case, I believe. BTW prey drive is a characteristic that can be improved by positive
training and a lot of it in the beginning could mean too much of it in the
end, depending of other mental properties the dog happens to be in possession
With setters, hare-hounds, moose-hounds and other
dogs that hunt with great stamina despite of little or no support from
handler we can say that they have a strong prey drive that keeps them going.
When we discuss dogs that work very close to us with constant support and
interaction the powering force might be more complex to analyse.
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog can do for you.
what you can do for your dog."www.rospigan.net