DEBATE: Does high-drive = crazy?

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 2nd, 2010, 2:42 pm

All too often we see/hear/read about dogs that are super high drive and crazy at the same time - pacing, getting into things, never relaxing, no off switch, etc. Is it possible to have a very high drive dog without the craziness? Is it possible to turn drive off and on to avoid the crazies? Is it breed specific?
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Postby pocketpit » December 2nd, 2010, 3:25 pm

I don't think it's breed specific though there are certain breeds that are more prone to being "high drive". And yes it's possible to have both high drive with an off switch in my opinon. Some of it depends greatly on the owner/handler of the dog. I do however believe that there are also dogs bred for such intense "crazy" behavior that they may never have a true "off" switch.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 2nd, 2010, 5:54 pm

I have dogs that many label "crazy"...I like high-drive and energy...I want dogs that will try anything once...(including getting burned alive on a hot grill)...and not shy away the next time. I want dogs that play hard, but I want dogs that can settle in the house. My guys are currently all snoozing (enforced time out with Inara and Figment right now...had to stop them from wrestling since we have flyball this weekend)...only because I'm not offering up something better, and I stopped them from playing earlier. They're not pacing, turning circles, or driving me crazy...they're just chilling out...because they get the idea of taking down time when they can.

I honestly think most is training, or lack thereof.
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Postby furever_pit » December 2nd, 2010, 8:59 pm

Depends on the dog.

Cairo is a high drive dog and he is of a breed that is considered to be pretty crazy. However, he doesn't spin in his crate, or suck on his flanks, or chew at his tail or legs. He's actually pretty chill in the crate. But no, he does not have an off switch. Unless he has just been worked hard he has a very hard time just hanging out in the house. It's at least partially genetic for Cairo; I have seen enough of his ancestors to know they are all crazy. There is a chance he might relax a little with age, but I'm not gonna hold my breath.

Dutch Shepherds, on the other hand, are known to be driven like Mals but tend to have more of an off switch that allows them to just lay around the house. Of course, there are lines of Dutchies that break that rule.

The on/off switch is one of my favorite things about bulldogs. Not that all bulldogs have them. Dylan's off switch is just fabulous. He is such an easy dog.
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Postby furever_pit » December 7th, 2010, 5:56 pm

I know this thread has kind of died but I wanted to share some thoughts.

I said in my earlier post that Dylan has a great off switch. But he's also not what I would consider a high drive dog. He's got that "out of sight, out of mind" kind of personality. When I put his toy away he doesn't give it a second thought. He just goes and lies down somewhere, being still in mind and body is easy for him. Turning him on and keeping him on (especially if he doesn't think there is a threat) is a tad tricky - unless live prey is involved.

Cairo, on the other hand, is definitely a high drive dog...like pass up food in favor of a tug/ball/decoy/stick/etc. He has remained on a tug when another dog charged and bit him. He will search for a toy that I have thrown into a field with grass taller than him until he locates it...and then he wants to play tug. lol I would actually go so far as to say that this dog has very little to no personality outside of his drives.

Now if I were to force Cairo to be out in the house and lay down and be still; to be still despite pent up energy...does that really create an off switch? He would have to put a lot of effort into laying still and staying still, and that's just his body. His mind would not stop. This wound-up and "obsessive" behavior is not a matter of compliance for Cairo, it's simply how he is wired. I think that to claim that this level of drive and a dog's inability or difficulty containing that drive is an obedience issue is oversimplifying it.

It would be quite possible for me to train Cairo to lay down in the house. But it would be nothing more than an extended down/stay. And Cairo would not turn "off" in order to complete the behavior...he would be staring a hole through my head as he thought about the reward that was sure to come (ball/tug). He would not be relaxed and his drive certainly would not be turned "off".
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Postby mnp13 » December 7th, 2010, 6:27 pm

No, high drive doesn't have to be insane/ crazy/ OCD/ hyper.

Riggs is extremely high drive. When he is focused on something, nothing breaks in - including a good deal of pain. I have to be very careful when we play, because he has done actual injury to himself and just kept going. He's a very very busy dog, has to have something to do all the time, but isn't uncontrollable. If he has a ball to chew on he's happy, but if not, and people are moving around in the house, he keeps on "truckin' " from room to room checking everything out. In his crate, he barks because he hates his crate, but doesn't spin or do other self-destructive things. However, he is also very happy to sleep on the couch next to me.

Connor is as high drive as Riggs, and when he's focused on things nothing breaks it. He actually spits out food during bite work because his only thought is the decoy. He's a lot more laid back in the house, nowhere near as busy as Riggs is.

In my opinion, lack of ability to calm down is not a plus. There are lines that are bred for this kind of "never shut off" behavior, which I have to admit I frankly don't understand. It creates dogs that almost have to live in kennels or (unfortunately) crates because they have no ability to not be destructive. And what happens to these over-wound dogs if they wash out of sport due to injury or other problem? They are not capable of just hanging out - they are looking at a life in a kennel... because their genetic makeup makes them a total head case.

I also agree that it is more than just obedience. No different than severe ADHD in children - it's not that they don't want to behave they just don't have the ability for that focus and control... or it's hyper focus. They can settle down, but only under the guise of "obedience" not because they are actually relaxed.
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Postby furever_pit » December 7th, 2010, 11:48 pm

Definitely not a plus.
Not something I would purposefully select for myself.

But I accept what I got and work with it.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 8th, 2010, 8:55 pm

Another piece of food for thought...

Went to a Pat Hastings seminar last year and she mentioned that in her opinion lack of ability to settle goes along with a structural problem...that the dog has trouble getting comfortable and such (don't quote me on this exactly)...thus doesn't want to settle/relax. She said that the pups that she sees in litters (and she gets called in to evaluate thousands of litters) that are constantly moving and on the go (what many sports people want in a pup) aren't the best structurally.

I know that my little Wiener is a structural train wreck, and he does indeed have trouble settling and calming down. :)
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Postby furever_pit » December 8th, 2010, 8:59 pm

Interesting point Erin. I had never thought about that.

In some of the dogs I have seen I think that the inability to calm down goes along with a little bit of nervous/anxious energy.
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Postby TinaMartin » December 15th, 2010, 10:27 am

mnp13 wrote:No, high drive doesn't have to be insane/ crazy/ OCD/ hyper.
In my opinion, lack of ability to calm down is not a plus. There are lines that are bred for this kind of "never shut off" behavior, which I have to admit I frankly don't understand. It creates dogs that almost have to live in kennels or (unfortunately) crates because they have no ability to not be destructive. And what happens to these over-wound dogs if they wash out of sport due to injury or other problem? They are not capable of just hanging out - they are looking at a life in a kennel... because their genetic makeup makes them a total head case.

I think this is a perfect example of Gator. Managing him in a home situation is a nightmare. When he is not crated he has to be supervised at all times.
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Postby fenella » December 20th, 2010, 6:25 pm

I also think, in some cases, it has to do with whether you give a high-drive dog an outlet or not. A high drive dog left alone all day, then left in the living room with nothing to play with while the family does their thing is going to be crazy. That same dog in a house where he gets to do agility, go for a run, has a good game of tug, etc., etc. will be able to settle down. That said, yes, I do think some dogs are just plain crazy, but I think, as Erin said, it has a lot to do with training and what you do with them.
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Postby mnp13 » December 21st, 2010, 9:10 am

fenella wrote:I also think, in some cases, it has to do with whether you give a high-drive dog an outlet or not.

In some (if not most) cases I agree.
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