Understanding the Instincts and Drives of Corgi Dogs: A Look into Their Natural Herding Instincts and Motivation

Understanding the Instincts and Drives of Corgi Dogs  - welcome to our first blog article, of a series of six, on the delightful Pembroke Welsh Corgi! If you're a prospective Corgi owner, a new Corgi parent, or just a dog enthusiast curious about this charming breed, you've come to the right place. In this article, we will delve into the intriguing psychological concepts of instincts and drives in herding dogs like Corgis. Understanding these innate traits is essential for effective training and developing a harmonious bond with your furry companion.

Defining Instincts and Drives

Instincts and drives are fundamental aspects of a dog's behavior, deeply rooted in their genetic makeup. Let's take a closer look at these intriguing psychological concepts to understand the "who, what, when, where, and how" of instincts and drives in our beloved Corgi herding dogs.

Who Possesses Instincts and Drives?

Every dog, including our intelligent and charismatic Corgis, possesses instincts and drives. These innate traits are not limited to herding dogs alone; they are prevalent in various breeds, each with its unique set of instincts shaped by their historical roles and purposes.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Puppy Training
Pemberdiamonds. Fig. 1
What Are Instincts and Drives?

Instincts refer to the inherent, fixed patterns of response that dogs exhibit when presented with specific stimuli. These responses are not learned but rather ingrained in their DNA, shaped by generations of evolutionary adaptation. In the case of Corgis, their herding instincts drive behaviors like nipping, eyeing, and gathering.

Drives, on the other hand, are the motivational forces behind a dog's actions. They act as internal urges that push dogs to fulfill their natural needs and desires. The chase drive, for instance, motivates Corgis to eagerly pursue anything that moves rapidly, stemming from their history as herding dogs rounding up livestock.

When Do Instincts and Drives Emerge?

Instincts are present from birth and are observable as soon as Corgi puppies begin to interact with their environment. As they grow and explore, their innate behaviors start to manifest, giving us glimpses of their natural inclinations.

Drives also begin to emerge early in a puppy's life. As they develop, their drives become more apparent, shaping how they respond to various stimuli and influencing their actions as they mature into adult dogs.

Where Do Instincts and Drives Originate?

Instincts have their origins in the long history of dog domestication and selective breeding. The behaviors that were once essential for survival and fulfilling specific tasks were passed down through generations, resulting in the distinct instincts we observe in modern-day Corgis.

Drives, while also influenced by genetics, can be influenced by early life experiences and socialization. Adequate exposure to various stimuli during a Corgi's formative weeks can either enhance or modify their drives as they grow and adapt to their environment.Pembroke Welsh Corgi Training

How Can We Utilize Instincts and Drives in Training?
  • Training can be customized by tapping into their herding instincts for gathering and recalling activities.
  • Prey drive management involves desensitization and teaching the "leave it" command.

Recognizing and understanding our Corgi's instincts and drives can greatly assist in training them effectively. By tapping into their herding instincts, we can design engaging and rewarding activities that satisfy their natural tendencies. Incorporating playful games that mimic herding behaviors or using toys to encourage gathering and recall can create a harmonious training experience.

Enriching Lives: Embracing Instincts and Drives for Corgi Happiness

Furthermore, acknowledging the impact of drives on their behavior enables us to tailor training techniques. Employing positive reinforcement to reward desired responses, curbing unwanted behaviors related to their drives, and providing mental and physical stimulation are all essential aspects of successful Corgi training.

Deepening the Bond: Understanding Corgi Instincts and Drives

Embracing the concepts of instincts and drives enriches our connection with our Corgi companions. As responsible owners, we can utilize this knowledge to provide fulfilling and stimulating lives for our beloved herding dogs. With a blend of love, understanding, and effective training, we can ensure that our Corgis thrive as the ideal pets for anyone lucky enough to share their lives with these incredible beings.

The Interplay of Nature and Nurture: How Instincts and Drives are Formed

The development of instincts and drives in Corgi herding dogs is a complex interplay of nature and nurture. Nature refers to the genetic inheritance that shapes a dog's innate tendencies, while nurture encompasses the environmental influences and experiences that further mold their behaviors.

Nature - The Genetic Blueprint
  • Instincts and drives in Corgi herding dogs are shaped by their genetic inheritance.
  • Over generations of selective breeding, specific traits like herding behaviors were reinforced.

At the core of a Corgi's instincts and drives lies their genetic blueprint. Over generations of selective breeding, certain traits were reinforced, leading to the preservation of specific instincts that were essential for their herding tasks.

Traits like eyeing, nipping, and gathering were selectively propagated, ensuring that these behaviors became deeply ingrained in their genetic makeup. Nature plays a crucial role in determining the foundation of their instincts and drives, establishing the framework upon which their behaviors will be built.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Puppy Training
Pemberdiamonds. Fig. 2
Nurture - Environmental Experiences
  • Early life experiences and socialization play a significant role in modifying instinctual behaviors.
  • Positive interactions during critical socialization periods enhance natural tendencies.

While instincts are present from birth, nurture significantly shapes how they manifest and interact with the environment. Early life experiences, socialization, and exposure to various stimuli all play pivotal roles in developing and modifying instincts and drives. Positive interactions during the critical socialization period can enhance their natural tendencies, while negative experiences might lead to the suppression of certain behaviors. For instance, a Corgi exposed to frequent interactions with other animals during puppyhood is likely to develop a healthier approach to socializing than one with limited exposure. The nurturing environment can either strengthen or modify these innate traits, ultimately influencing the Corgi's behavior as they grow and adapt to their surroundings.

The Dynamic Balance
  • The interplay of nature and nurture determines how instincts and drives manifest in Corgis.
  • Recognizing this balance empowers owners to provide appropriate training and environments.

Understanding the interplay of nature and nurture is vital for Corgi owners, as it allows them to appreciate their pet's unique personality and tendencies. Some instincts, like herding behaviors, are deeply ingrained due to centuries of selective breeding, while drives like prey drive might be influenced by their upbringing and early life experiences. Recognizing this dynamic balance empowers owners to utilize positive training techniques tailored to their Corgi's individual characteristics. By acknowledging both nature and nurture, we can create an environment that nurtures their instincts positively and reinforces their desired drives while mitigating unwanted behaviors. This balanced approach to training ensures that our Corgis thrive, living harmoniously as loving companions and ideal pets.

Unraveling the Herding Instincts

Corgis, bred as herding dogs, possess strong herding instincts like eyeing, stalking, and gathering. Gathering instinct compels Corgis to bring scattered livestock together into a cohesive unit.

Corgis, originally bred as herding dogs in Wales, possess a strong herding instinct. When watching them in action, it becomes evident that this instinctual behavior involves specific actions like eyeing, stalking, and nipping. These behaviors are remnants of their ancestral duties, where they worked tirelessly to control livestock, particularly cattle.

The Gathering Instinct

Instincts and drives are essential aspects of a dog's behavior, shaped by genetics and motivational forces. Instincts are inherent, fixed responses to stimuli, while drives push dogs to fulfill natural needs and desires.

One remarkable aspect of a Corgi's herding instinct is the gathering behavior. This instinct compels them to bring scattered livestock together into a cohesive unit. You might notice your Corgi trying to gather your family members or other pets during playtime, a testament to their hardwired instincts.

The Chase Drive

Corgis exhibit a chase drive, urging them to pursue and control animals attempting to break away from the herd. The chase drive is another critical component of a herding dog's instincts. It urges Corgis to move swiftly and eagerly pursue animals that attempt to break away from the herd. You may see this behavior when your Corgi excitedly chases after squirrels or birds in the backyard.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Herding
Understanding Prey Drive

Prey drive, though toned down through breeding, should be managed when introducing Corgis to smaller pets. Prey drive is a concept shared not only by herding dogs but by various breeds. It refers to the inherent desire to pursue and capture prey. In Corgis, this drive has been toned down due to selective breeding for herding tasks. However, it's essential to be mindful of it, especially when introducing your Corgi to smaller pets.

Usefulness of Instincts and Drives in Training
  • Recognizing Corgi instincts aids in designing engaging activities that satisfy their natural inclinations.
  • Positive reinforcement techniques are effective in training, rewarding desired responses and curbing unwanted behaviors.

Recognizing and harnessing a Corgi's instincts and drives is a powerful tool for successful training. Here's how you can make use of these concepts to foster a well-behaved and happy Corgi:

  1. Channeling Herding Instincts

Training can be customized by tapping into their herding instincts for gathering and recalling activities.

Since Corgis have an instinctive inclination to gather and control, you can employ this during training sessions. Use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage them to gather toys or follow basic commands, rewarding their efforts and reinforcing their natural herding tendencies.

  1. Tackling the Chase Drive

The chase drive can be useful when teaching recall commands. Engage your Corgi in games where they chase after a toy, and when they return it to you, offer praise and treats. This nurtures their recall ability and establishes a reliable response to your call.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Herding

  1. Reducing Prey Drive Impact

Prey drive management involves desensitization and teaching the "leave it" command.

To manage the prey drive, focus on desensitization and impulse control exercises. Gradually introduce them to smaller animals and teach them the "leave it" command. Reward them when they resist the urge to chase, ensuring they learn to coexist peacefully with other pets.

  1. Mental and Physical Stimulation

As herding dogs, Corgis have high energy levels and need ample mental and physical stimulation. Engage them in puzzle toys, interactive games, and agility exercises. These activities satiate their drives and prevent boredom-induced behavior problems.


Understanding the instincts and drives of Corgi herding dogs offers valuable insights into their behavior and motivations. By leveraging these innate traits in their training, you can create a fulfilling and enriching experience for both you and your Corgi. Embrace their herding heritage, cherish their uniqueness, and witness the joy of having an affectionate and devoted Corgi by your side. Stay tuned for more informative articles on raising and caring for your Pembroke Welsh Corgi!

Remember, whether you're looking for a loyal companion or a skilled herder, the Corgi is truly the ideal pet for any dog lover!


Understanding the Instincts and Drives of Corgi Dogs

2 thoughts on “Understanding the Instincts and Drives of Corgi Dogs

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