Types of canine motivation Usually, people think that greyhounds are dogs with a strong prey instinct, that they love to run or, on the other hand, that they are very lazy and just long to be cuddled etc. But what does it mean to have an instinct? To prefer doing some things rather than others? It means that the greyhound’s world view is not neutral, but is stimulated by the world itself, and he responds to it through the filter of what drives him. To understand what our dog wants to do, indeed, what he likes to do, which kind of activities he is naturally attracted to and which types of objects he is attracted by, we must first talk about “motivations”. Motivation is the mental disposition to do something and to choose particular targets; it tells us what our dog loves to do and what kind of objects he likes to use. The world, seen through our dog’s eyes, is pretty different from the world we know, not only because their sense channels have a different structure, but also because we have a different set of motivations. Dogs, for instance, have a prey drive which pushes them to chase small moving objects; territorial motivation, on the other hand, leads dogs to perceive their territory according to its physical boundaries and to defend it against invasion. The different set of motivations, and how relevant they are in a subject’s orientation, define exactly that subject’s personality because they give an indication of the kinds of activities and types of behaviour he is drawn to. According to a cognitive human-animal relationship based approach, we can distinguish 18 types of different motivations: 1) Prey drive: to chase small moving objects; 2) Collecting motivation: to gather objects and collect them into a burrow or a hidden place; 3) Territorial motivation: to defend a territory or limited space; 4) Protective motivation: to defend a puppy or a mate; 5) Search motivation: to explore a territory and chart it; 6) Exploratory m.: to analyze objects; 7) Epimeletic m.: to care for mates and puppies; 8) Competitive m.: to compete with a mate or another animal; 9) Search m.: to look for hidden objects; 10) Courting m.: to attract a sexual partner; 11) Kinesthetic m.: to move, run and jump; 12) Somesthetic m.: to explore one’s own body; 13) Collaborative m.: to join a group activity; 14) Possessive m.: to keep hold of something; 15) Communicative m.: to express a state of being or point out something; 16) Et-epimeletic m.: to gain the attention, care or help of another animal; 17) Affiliative m.: to join a tight group; 18) Social m.: to gain a position within a social group. We can then distinguish between different types of dog breeds according to the prevalent motivation shown by each animal: i.e, Border Collies, shepherding breeds and greyhounds have a strong prey drive; Labradors and Retrievers have marked epimeletic behaviour; in Rottweilers a competitive motivation is more prevalent, and so on. Greyhounds show a strong prevalence of kinesthesic tension, alongside prey drive and competitive motivation. According to its dominating motivation, a puppy chooses specific recreational activities, and there is no kind of play which is not related to motivation: retrievers like to chase a ball, rottweilers love to bite things. We must know our dog’s motivations in order to be able to play with him. Also, there is a strong relationship between motivation and pleasure: a lack of motivation, which can happen in home life, causes boredom and tedium; we must offer our dogs a wide variety of activities and incentives, if we want to prevent him becoming bored and frustrated and developing bad behavioural habits as a consequence.
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