Canine Instincts And Drives

The Source That Powers Dog Behavior



Dog drives and canine instincts are a powerful combination of energy and skills that causes our dogs to display a variety of ancient natural behaviors.

Canine Instincts

Drives are the primal motivators in the dog’s mind, responsible for all dogs’ instinctual behaviors, essential skills intended to serve dogs’ most primal purpose in life, passing its genes to the next generation; which involves self-preservation, reproduction and survival of the fittest. Therefore self-preservation, sex and aggression are your dog’s drives.




These drives control the mind in a substantial manner through hunger, thirst, and hormonal changes that induces the animal to instinctually hunt, search for water or mate.

While drives are what urges dogs into action, canine instincts are the inborn/inherited ability to perform a task successfully, without prior learning.

Instincts are fixed action patterns and ritualized behaviors performed stereotypically by all members of the same species, motivated by the same drives.

Therefore, all dogs display instinctual behaviors, although some dogs have stronger or weaker drives and instincts than others, depending on the influence of genetic manipulation, their environment, past experiences, peers and human interaction.


A few examples of instinctual behavior are:

- Marking territory.

- Chasing squirrels or smalls animals.

- Sniffing other dogs’ private parts.

- Fighting over toys or food.

- Digging in the yard.

- Mounting other dogs.


Since some of these behaviors can be problematic or even dangerous, they need to be redirected into more “civilized” activities that offer an outlet to that compelling energy that causes them.

Dog sports, like fly ball, dog agility training, hunting, retrieving, or simply hiking, jogging or walking with your dog are great activities, that properly executed, can help you channel your dog’s energy and fulfill your dog's physical and psychological needs.

In the other hand, while some behaviors need to be changed, there are other instinctual behaviors that might not seem very civilized, like sniffing private parts of dogs or humans, or sniffing urine markings and other dog’s feces; however, these are part of your dog’s essential needs as an animal, fundamental to your dog’s healthy development and proper interaction with the world around him.

That's why it's so important as a dog owner to be able to recognize, understand and learn how to manage these drives, considering the power they have over your dog’s behavior and the fact that they are absolutely natural to dogs and cannot be taken away.

The key to raising a well adjusted dog is finding balance between the wolf and the pet in your dog. Understanding your dog’s right to behave like a real dog and making sure his wilder side is properly fulfilled by providing an alternative outlet to canine instincts and their instinctual behaviors.


Learn how to recognize and manage your dog's drives and instinctual behaviors:


Predatory Behavior And Self Preservation

Learn how predatory behavior is influenced by your dog’s self preservation drive and why it needs to be controlled to avoid dog behavior problems.

Dog Mating Behavior And Sex Drive

Learn how to manage dog mating behaviors by understanding your dog’s sex drive.

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