Dogs possess many natural drives for survival. For example: food drive (to eat), prey drive (to hunt), retrieve drive (to bring food back to the pack), etc. Some dogs possess an exceptionally a high drive for certain instincts, like to hunt, which makes them better suited for training in a number of fields. Others possess a low drive for most instincts other than food. These dogs are generally best trained using food. Knowing the differences between low-drive and high-drive dogs is crucial, especially when it comes to training detection dogs. In the same way, it’s important to understand the reasons why Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd breeds are top-rated for bed bug inspections.
So what separates high-drive and low-drive dogs? Let’s dive right into what separates the two.
Training a low-drive dog generally consists of rewarding them with food when they give an alert. The dog literally works for its food and must remain hungry all the time in order to perform its duties successfully.
There are drawbacks to using food training. Besides the fact the dogs may be underfed, the dogs are hungry and know they will get fed when they alert, so they are more prone to giving false positive alerts – something that is detrimental in bed bug detection work. Like people, dogs do not work as efficiently on an empty stomach. They are weaker and more easily distracted.
High-drive dogs are selected for their intense natural instinct to hunt. This training method utilizes their strong prey drive and rewards them with a toy instead of food. The dogs are taught to hunt for the scent of bed bugs. Once they give an alert, they are rewarded with a ball. This mimics real life nature – the dog hunts its prey, finds it and captures it. The ball represents the animal captured in the hunt.
Utilizing high-drive dogs allows them to maintain a regular eating schedule that provides them with enough energy to perform their inspections well. It also significantly improves accuracy since ‘false positive alerts’ are all but eliminated. Properly trained and handled high-drive dogs have a 95 percent accuracy rate.
If you believe you have a bed bug infestation, take the time to ask your inspection team how their canines are trained. You can’t afford to have anything but the best bed bug inspection team.
Dog Inspectors uses only high-drive canines. Get to know our Chief Handler Diana Sosa here.