Motivation and motivating

Dog is a machine. Simple, straightforward hunting machine.

Everything in this descendant of the wolf points to that direction. Except maybe the fact that it’s digestive system has altered to utilize more varied food than it’s ancestors: whereas wolves digestive tract is completely designed to utilize meat in it’s all forms, shapes, sizes and putrefecation stages, domesticated dog’s system doesn’t endure as varied selection.

But the pack mentality, speed, attention and focus. That’s all from a simple killing machine which the nature has created to keep the amounts of game species down. Or at least prune out the sick and wounded ones.

In lure-coursing you can see the focus of the sighthounds clearly: the low gait, sharp stare of the lure and ‘all or nothing’ mentality in the chase.

But what drives the motivation of the dog? The instinct is the main motivator, naturally, which is triggered by the moving preylike lure. However, the more I see and hear about irish wolfhounds, the more imminent is the fact that not all dogs have this instinct intact. There are dogs that don’t even consider chasing the lure, let alone living prey.

The instinct can -and in case of sighthounds, should- be enhanced. If the dogs would live in ‘nature’, the mothers would teach their puppies to hunt at some point. To play with food, so to speak, by bringing a dazed prey animal (rabbit for example) to the lair and let the pups play with the animal before killing it for food. That’s the way it is.

The main idea would be to attach the image of food into the chase. The idea of fulfilling one basic need.

Nowadays the domesticated dogs seldom get this luxury. Thus it is twice as important to remember to play with the little pup when she is young and ‘tender’: pull a rag to her to catch, to pull the rag gently to get the pup going into the playing and just letting her to bash the rag around. But not over do this: Irish Wolfhound is extremely intelligent and gets bored very fast. Young dogs may even lose their interest in playing if exerted for too long.

A couple of teasing games with a rag should be enough at a time.

The most important thing for us owners is to know our dog. So it’s very important to have your eye on how your pup develops and how she is doing. 

It may well save her life if something nasty happens.

Back to the issue: The motivation to hunt or to chase is partly inborn and can be enhanced by playing with the young dog. To make this even more efficient, the preferred actions could be rewarded by treat. More mature dog might even expect finding that treat from the training lure when she catches it. And in competition the dog might even be rewarded for the chase and getting the lure at the end by a treat. Be cautious with this one, though, as the rules and code of conduct of the competitions prohibit the competitors to hinder the other competitor’s performance: treat dropped to the track will most certainly do that!

Dog is a machine. Sighthound even more so. It doesn’t matter how well or bad the dog runs in the competition, it does it with the fullest of efforts she can do it. 

It’s just us humans evaluating the performance who deem if the dog was enthusiastic or not. 

The dog does it’s best and to the max each and every time she’s chasing.

That’s motivation for you.

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2 thoughts on “Motivation and motivating

    • Thank you! It means a lot to have comments on a blog that has only just been started: the effort has been mostly put into the dogs and their wellbeing so far, so it’s pretty easy to write about something you know intimately about. I promise I’ll be doing my best to keep the content as high in quality as possible, even with the cost of posting less frequently.

      Jorma

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