Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Understanding German Shepherd Puppy With High Prey Drive

Understanding a hard German Shepherd puppy with very strong Prey Drive

Hard puppies can be made easy with strategic handling and appropriate corrective measures

A lot many of our readers have emailed us seeking for advice on how to raise a GSD puppy with very high prey drive. A high prey drive puppy is often a hard puppy, and the owners usually face real challenge to teach them the meanings of the commands. High Prey drive GSD pups have often been returned back, as handlers consider them to be problem pups. Fact is Prey Drive in German Shepherd (also called Booty Instinct) is one of the most important in instincts typical to this breed, and a need for the pup to grow up as perfect working dog. Please understand that Prey Drive is highly desirable in correct degree in German Shepherds; Excessively high level of Prey Instincts makes the puppy hard to train.

Understanding Prey Drive

It is important to know what actual Prey Drive or Booty Instinct means. This is the drive that stimulates your German Shepherd puppy to chase a moving object and bite. This is a genetically inherited instinct, which is not too commonly found in all German Shepherd puppies. It is a genetic instinct by which the dog tries to experience the nature’s moving objects like a running squirrel, flying butterfly and hopping grasshopper and seizes them. Higher Prey Drive stimulates your puppy to chase the fly until he gets hold of it, and until he seizes the moving object he cannot pay attention on other things going around.

What’s There in This High Prey Drive That Makes Your German Shepherd Puppy Hard

Candidly speaking, raising and training a puppy with high prey drive is not every one’s cup of tea. The reason is that not many of the dog trainers possess adequate basic skill that he or she may require to handle a strong prey drive puppy. Very high level of patience with a calm and assertive energy, enough time and technical knowledge about correct implementation of Positive Reinforcement Training approaches are the basic needs that a trainer should have to handle a puppy with Higher Prey Drive.

An experienced trainer will want to strengthen the prey instinct and at the same time train the puppy the desired skills. He will understand that the temperament and behavior of the puppy is governed by his/her drives that are:

i) Naturally expressed through his instincts
ii) Stimulated by Positive Reinforcement Training methods

High Prey Drive in a German Shepherd puppy can make it a hard specimen. If not channelized correctly, in the right direction, the puppy’s High Prey Drive may develop into undesirable behavior towards his surroundings, making the puppy unmanageable.

What is Most Challenging in a Puppy With Very Strong Prey Instinct

A lot of people have not got opportunities to handle very High Prey Drive GSD pups, because they are not very common. Do not get confused with puppies having prey drive and puppies having very high prey drive. While it’s too common for all working line German Shepherd to have adequate and desirable degree of Prey Instinct; It’s not very common to find a pup with this instinct in a very high degree. The challenge lies in the fact that a puppy with very high degree of this instinct usually:

i) Remain aloof to other happenings and even remain aloof to commands
ii) Have very very short attention span
iii) Easily rebounces back to his own activities (that not desirable at a particular moment) even after corrections

All these three factors merge together to make it a hard puppy that gets corrected, but immediately turns back from corrections and get back to his own unique form.

Another most important thing that makes it really challenging to handle a hard puppy is handler’s inability to understand whether really his puppy has very high prey drive. If you think that you are raising a high prey drive puppy because he is hard to train, you may not be thinking right. Chances are there that your puppy is genetically stubborn. Some puppies are born stubborn which makes them hard to train – that does not mean that they have high prey drive. Stubbornness and Prey instincts are not same.

May be your puppy has high prey drive, but with correct handling and Positive Reinforcement Training approaches he can be easily trained. Not all hard puppies have very high prey drive, but most of the very high prey drive puppies are hard.

Is there anything that is good about a puppy with higher degree of this drive?

Yes… obviously every cloud has a silver lining! If you really have a hard puppy (hard due to very high prey instinct) you should feel lucky. Such puppies are usually not influenced by minor handling errors. Softer puppies can be easily trained because they can be easily influenced and better influenced compared to their harder counterparts. Minor handling problems due to low handling skill set can lead a normal puppy in the wrong direction, thereby developing problem points in the future.

What does it take to raise a Strong Prey Drive Puppy?


Strategic handling accompanied with Positive Reinforcement Training approaches is the most important method of handling. As discussed above, as a leader of the pack you need to be assertive, confident, patient, understanding, compassionate, and at the same time you should have zero-tolerance for all undesirable behaviors in your puppy.


Treat him like your human child. If you are being asked to choose a teacher for your child, what kind of a teacher will you choose? I am sure you would want your child to be taught by someone who is patient, understanding, and teaches at a speed that your child can easily follow. I am sure you will not like the teacher to punish your child suddenly for small mistakes.


Raising a hard puppy demands more dedication that raising their softer or normal counterparts. While “consistency” is the key to all types dog training, but for a hard puppy “consistency” should be a way of life – not just an option. You need to be consistently firm and strict as long as your puppy becomes a fully correct specimen. Corrections Punishing a Strong Prey Drive Puppy doesn’t work much, because he would instantly rebounce back from  punishment mode and go back to his natural form (as discussed above). Corrections should not be in a punishing mode. You need to be firm, calm and with a positive attitude (Must). The moment you go impatient, the entire endeavor will go waste. However, very strong and firm shakes and several shakes by the neck’s nape may be necessary for a hard and Strong Prey Drive puppy to bring him back to desirable mode.


If you are among those who consider firmness in a handler's attitude and firmness with repetitive in the corrective shakes as abusive training approaches, then you are probably wrong (Myth). You have to have a different temperament as an owner and take different corrective actions to train a puppy with strong prey drive. Without firm handling and strict corrective measures a hard puppy can grow into a big menace very shortly. If you believe that being too strict in handling a High Prey Drive puppy will destroy the working ability of the dog, you are probably wrong again (Myth again). Strategic handling comes to play here. Strategic handling involves conditioning the “Drive’s redundancy” to gradually fade out the undesirable behavior that generates due to the redundancy and at the same time developing the Drive/Instinct to use it more productively.

Starting Age for Correction

Starting off at a very early stage of around 8 to 9 weeks is appropriate.


One very important factor in Prey Drive that plays in favor of the handler is that , the effect of this instinct (excessive chewing, excessive chasing etc.) eventually gets diminished as the puppy gets tired. A correct amount of exercise (proportionate to the age) is a must to diminish the effect. The motive is to letting the excess energy go out.

Related Reads - Understanding German Shepherd Basic Instincts 


Points of Confusion:

1. Not all chasing behaviors are stimulated by Prey Instinct. Chasing driven by behavioral issues is not related to this drive.
2. Strong Prey Drive puppies have biting tendencies. Not all puppies having biting tendencies necessarily have Strong Prey Drive.
3. Abusive training approaches and too firm training approaches are not same. Handler need to be very strict and firm to correct a Strong Prey Drive puppy

Buzz this


Last Year's Most Read Out Posts

Advertise with us

About This Blog

All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

  © Our Blogger Template for Aringsburg's German Shepherd Dogs

Back to TOP