Unleashing the Power of Breed-Specific Behaviours

Have you ever wondered if your dog’s breed-specific behaviours are the cause or maybe even the solution to overcoming training challenges? Let’s shift our perspective and harness these behaviours for positive results. Understanding your dog’s motivation is crucial for tailoring training methods that unlock their full potential. Let’s explore the fascinating differences in dog’s (predatory) motivation and how to use them as a powerful training tool!

Why you should use your dog’s motivation

To achieve the best training outcome, it’s essential to understand what motivates your dog and drives their behaviour. In positive dog training, we use our dog’s breed-specific and personal traits to make learning more fun and accomplish better results. And it’s easy to do this! You just need to recognise their unique motivations, so you can tailor your training methods to unlock their full potential. Let me give you an example:

Exploring Breed-Specific Motivations

Meet Frido, a Red & White Irish Setter, and Nellie, a Small Münsterländer. While they may look similar, their breed-specific motivations set them apart. Both breeds were bred to support hunters, but their hunting approaches differ. So, if you want to train both of them, you should use slightly different reinforcers to get them to their full potential.

Those differences do not only appear between different breeds but also individuals from the same breed! It’s important to look at each dog’s unique personality.

Utilising the Predatory Motor Pattern

But, let’s go back to Frido and Nellie! Both of their breeds have been intentionally bred to support the human hunter, so eating is not on their agenda when they are working. That’s because the human hunter wants to eat the meat.

So, while the eating part of the canine predatory sequence has been bred out of these dogs, they excel in other areas of the predatory Motor pattern, such as running, flushing wildlife, indicating prey, and retrieving. By leveraging these natural behaviours, you can reinforce desired behaviours effectively.

Breed-Specific Advantages

But, as well as the behaviours that they have in common, Nellie and Frido also differ from each other, and so too do their motivations and preferred reinforcers.

Red & White Irish Setters, originating from the British Isles, demonstrate specialised working styles. They are talented stalkers and help the human hunter by indicating prey.

Small Münsterländers from Germany, are versatile all-rounders. Small Münsterländers exhibit a unique ability to track wounded wildlife and fearlessly finish off injured prey. Understanding these distinctions allows you to harness their specific talents to your advantage.

How to use your dog’s motivation in (Predation Substitute) Training

Understanding these differences in your dog empowers you to tap into their natural instincts as a powerful training tool! As we now know, Frido and Nellie love to perform some different behaviours, which we can now use for their training: We can offer them more suitable activities, to give them a safe outlet for their natural needs. Or we can use their specific interest as a strong reinforcer in training, which will lead to much higher motivation and better results!

And of course:

If our dog likes what we offer them to do, it’s always great for our dog-human-bond. 🙂

Unleashing Motivation and Stamina

So, knowing your dog’s motivations also means understanding their level of drive and stamina. Certain breeds, like Small Münsterländers, possess high motivation and endurance. This presents an opportunity to engage their natural instincts and utilise more aspects of the predatory motor pattern. However, it also requires careful management to maintain focus and prevent overstimulation.

Harnessing Breed-Specific Behaviours

Discovering what truly motivates your dog and leveraging their breed-specific behaviours can revolutionise your training journey. Tailoring your approach to their unique characteristics allows you to tap into their innate drive and enthusiasm. Whether it’s tracking, retrieving, or indicating prey, aligning your training methods with their instincts yields remarkable results.


Understanding your dog’s motivations and breed-specific behaviours is the key to unlocking their full potential during training. By harnessing their innate drive, you can create a rewarding and effective training experience. Take the time to explore what motivates your furry companion and discover the incredible impact it can have on your training journey.

Simone Mueller

Founder of Predation Substitute Training™

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