lucy of dingos dogsitting with some dogs jumping up

Predatory Drift: How Un-tempered Arousal Can Lead to Aggression

Predatory drift among dogs occurs when the energy level of play becomes overly heightened and morphs or “drifts” into something more aggressive or predatory.  Typically, there are two factors that lead dogs to be aggressive: anxiety or arousal.  Predatory drift hinges on the latter.

Usually this sort of maladaptive behavior is first seen among adolescent dogs and is exacerbated in large groups where the energy is naturally more palpable.  Dogs will sense and feed off the energy of the pack, mirroring what they see.  Therefore, arousal is contagious and it builds up over time.  If dogs are not naturally taking breaks in play to hinder their arousal levels, you will likely see instances of predatory drift occur.

A natural remedy to this is human interaction or interruption – forcing dogs to take breaks to re-group and prevent exhaustion (which in and of itself can lead to other behavioral issues).

Dogs that frequently exhibit predatory drift tend to do much better in smaller groups; again, this is because the overall energy of the group is less heightened. Less dogs = less energy. Fortunately, at Dingo’s, we have various means to separate dogs and are therefore able to assist the slightly manic ones with re-grouping tactics either with a forced “time out” or by separating them out into a smaller group of dogs.

There’s an old saying about matchmaking that there is a “lid for every pot”. Our matchmaking is more of the platonic variety, and it involves dogs, but stay with me here: I feel there is a playgroup or outlet for every pup (except in rare and extreme circumstances). While we have various means of separating dogs and putting together groups of dogs that we think will work well, if our daycare doesn’t have the solution for your dogs energy expenditure needs, I’m sure we can point you in the direction of an alternative option that may be more suitable, whether that be group hikes, solo walks, or even another (often home-based) daycare.

To learn more about our daycare or any of our other services, email us at:


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *