I have noticed the mail and been thinking about it
for a while. I have also been busy with step two and three on my way back to
work. Step one was to get rid of the hearth doctors supervision, this was a
prerequisite to get to step two. Step two was to pass the medical
examination to be allowed to work on ships, all duties. That was completed last
Friday. Step three is to apply for my marine engineers certificate, to get it
back. That's what I do now.
A dog is a whole but in order to understand it we
sometimes chop it into pieces since it gives us the possibility to
understand the dog better. We try to understand each piece and then,
when we think we do, we put it together so that we have a whole
This is a bit tricky to do properly and sometimes
we might get fooled by our observation of the separate pieces.
For example we have a whole that hunts willingly,
with stamina and passion. The we pick the whole apart and look at the piece that
we think is the powering characteristic for the whole, namely the prey drive. We
might find that it is big and then everything is OK. If it is not big in our dog
that hunts so well, we might get puzzled and perhaps condemn the entire method
This is what I mean when I compare working spaniels
with for ex. border collies. They have one thing in common, they can do a full
days work without any prey in the neighbourhood. Why? Normally both these breeds
enjoy life best if they actually are hunting live game, the spaniel birds or
rabbits, the border collie sheep or other cattle.
Still both of these breeds can work hard in an
agility or obedience ring for example, something that might bore most of the
setters and harehounds pretty soon to death. They can in other words work
without any "live" stimuli for their prey drive. They work just for the fun of
it or they work because they love to interact with another individual, in this
case a human.
When we go out on the field with these dogs we can
never be really sure if they hunt for us because they have a strong prey drive
or because they love to work with us, to interact with us. By time we will learn
more about them. If our spaniel is easy to train to stop and sit at flush, then
we understand that it has not that much prey drive, the stimuli from live game
is not enough to create a nuclear meltdown in the dogs head, as often is a case
with at least our Nordic setters.
Instead we will by time understand that the dog
works hard because it loves to work with us and for us. Send it on a mission a
mile away it may or may not work as independently as a setter, while a good
setter always hunt as well without any support from the handler.
Now we must go and shoot clay. Any day now the
shooting might end when one meter of snow cover our private shooting range. Then
it is time to pay attention to the roe-deer again.
I think, without knowing for sure,
Borta Med Vindens Kennel
"Ask not what your dog can do for you.
what you can do for your dog."www.rospigan.net
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 9:41
Subject: Re: [working-gundog]Prey drive
2nd time I've sent this:
Don's email I finally managed to get home so I
could place it on here for further comments.
I have read about prey drive as Torsti
discusses i.e. behaviour in the pack and individual attack on prey, in
relation to the work of cattle & sheep dogs but have never clearly
understood what is meant.
My 10 month old Springer spaniel male is
developing now and is at a point where I am stepping up his obedience and
field & game introduction .
He is a major challenge because from the
moment he leaves his kennel he is hunting with very strong drive. By that I
mean, on a walk for instance, he is constantly focussing on birds flying and
ground movement e.g. leaf movement or a movement in the
Around the garden ,when he is loose, he is constantly hunting
for lizards & anything that moves e.g. bush turkeys that come into the
garden. He catches frill-neck lizards and retrieves them to hand gently.
is quite obedient on lead , however at the local obedience class, if a bird
flies within 150m it distracts him.
He is not too biddable or people
orientated but slowly is building up some regard for me.
When he was
younger it was food that was his main driver but now this hunting drive seems
If I let him loose in an open park or field situation he runs
hard and v.fast (for a Springer) and if I give no command, heads
directly for water or the heavy scrub where he chases scents and will quickly
lose touch with me.
He is otherwise a soft dog around the house &
people i.e. very submissive .
Torsti , my experience with soft Springers
has been that they may be soft around people and everyday situations but that
quite often they hunt like Zulu warriors . However often soft means that
they are very obedient at contact with game or the flush of game and that is
why the British have gone that way in their breeding perhaps. This fellow has
none of that type of field softness however and control is purely based on
Is it a surfeit of dopamine hormones that drive this pup?
His brother from another litter won the National trial , but was a late
bloomer. Another brother from that previous litter was offered to me at
2 years of age, totally out of control.
I was told he would retrieve well.
We went to a nearby piece of open ground and sent him for a retrieve, he ran
straight to the fall of the dummy but kept going and we found him half an hour
later hunting ducks in a reedy creek 750 metres away. So there are some
I have been around a lot of gundogs but only once or
twice have I seen this level of hunting drive, so he will be a challenge to
get to a steady dog on rabbits , let alone a trial dog.
would be useful,