An Amazing Example of Emotional Sonar

On a recent radio interview I was asked by the host; What do dogs want?  I answered, “To resolve their owner’s unresolved emotion.” However I hadn’t achieved enough context for that remark by that point in the interview so my answer felt a little flat to me. Thus, I’m grateful to Sang for the following example that says it so much better and which I’m going to incorporate into future responses.



“As you may or may not know, I’m not just a designer but an artist as well.  I went to art school in Detroit to become a car designer, which worked out and I worked at GM for about 7 years designing car exteriors.  During that period of time in school and at GM, I did these red pen sketches that became my hallmark and calling card.  Any designer in the industry who knows me knows that I do them.  You need to know that as background info so the rest of this makes sense.”


“Recently I’ve been feeling a real need to get back into this creative process as designing airplanes is not a creative endeavor.  Last night I decided to start getting back into sketching again, and since sketching with red pen is my thing, I was looking around the house for a red pen but couldn’t find one.  No big deal.  I grabbed a black pen instead, got some paper and some inspiration images together, sat down and went to work.  It’s been a while since I sat down to draw and sketch just for fun or to just be creative, and it was a bit frustrating getting back into it.  Something the dogs were feeling.  It was getting late, so I called it quits and went to bed.”


“Like I said, the whole red pen thing is background info. It’s important framing so you can see the significance of what happened this morning.  I got up and took a shower, came downstairs, and what do I see Jackie chewing on in the middle of the living room rug?  A red pen.  I have no idea where she found it, as I looked for one the night before and didn’t see one.  There was certainly a charge towards finding one, as so much of my designer identity and ego are tied up with doing those sketches.  So what does she do?  She goes and hunts one down for me.  It was one of those, “Wow, crazy” moments.  So I of course praise her and she gives me the pen.”


“This stuff doesn’t surprise me anymore of course.  I’m used to seeing this kind of behavior from her.  Jackie has done this kind of thing many times in the past for many different things.  To name just a few, she used to pull out my credit card bills out of the stack of mail and leave them lying on the floor undamaged, when I was really focused on our finances and our debt.  She has chewed both your books, Natural Dog Training as well as Your Dog is Your Mirror, but has never chewed any others, even when they’ve been easily accessible to her.  When she was a puppy, she took some of my things and laid them out in the backyard, again undamaged.  She just went into the bathroom, grabbed only my things, none of Amanda’s things, and took them into the yard one at a time, and laid them out in different locations.”


“I know this stuff doesn’t surprise you at all, but it’s always cool when it happens.”

Thanks Sang, You’re right that these things no longer surprise me, and yet they never cease to amaze me. (Too bad I can’t post Jackie’s “review” on Amazon. )

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Published March 30, 2011 by Kevin Behan
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8 responses to “An Amazing Example of Emotional Sonar”

  1. Annie says:

    I came across a wonderful principle that is used as mainly an architectural term, but is applied also in nature and its structures: tensegrity, a combination of “tension” and “integrity” that so much reminded me of Kevin’s writings on the dynamic of a pack…and emotional projection; the structures I saw were beautiful models created with rubber bands and small sticks or tubes. The tension from the rubber bands kept everything in position, and the lengths of tubing used provided the structure that was 3 dimensional and appeared to be floating. Wow. I had one of those moments when everything came together in my head! Wish I could stay stuck in a-ha! It’s very hard to over ride the mind and leap to the next level of perception.

  2. Christine says:

    Loving your comment Annie…I feel ya about the a-ha moments; they are fleeting for sure and so hard to hang on to! My head feels like it’s full of peanut butter all the time; so very hard to get un-stuck 🙁

  3. kbehan says:

    Knowing something is a feeling in the heart. Confusion is separation from the truth. Trust the confusion and don’t chase it away by filling the void with thoughts. Wait for the feeling of knowing to arise in its own time and way. The heart is a muscle. With regular exercise, you will find that soon you will be able to run up a hill of doubt that you previously had to pause to catch your breath. Dogs can run all day. Keep On Pushing!

  4. Annie says:

    Me and Jack (1996, written for my Cattle Dog)…..although I wrote this so many years ago, I’d like to share….from my heart

    Two hearts as big as the outdoors
    Step out in jubilant unison
    While bemused trees look down and shade the way for great adventure
    (Feet & paws, feet & paws!)
    (Feet & paws, feet & paws!)
    So joyful is their gait
    The windsong-birdsong-singalong rushes in their ears
    (Feet & paws, feet & paws!)
    Embarking on a great adventure
    With the tacit understanding
    That each will look after the other.

  5. christine randolph says:

    just watching an old set of dvds teaching musical freestyle. the instructor is mostly performing with a border collie but looks MUCH better with her Giant Schnauzer even though he has fewer moves. so he gets mostly sidelined. she probably does not know that she and the schnauzer are a more appealing dance team….

  6. Dear Kevin
    I think its appropriate to note something about sending and receiving Intentions. Between a desire to do something and the actual action, lies the INTENTION. The INTENTION is the Modulate-Carrier wave of what we want; generate the moment the brain emits the signal “DO what you desire” to his enclosed environment (body) and the manifestation of its the desire to surrounding…the universe.

    Who ever is capable to receive this energy flow that i would call Intentional energy (its similar with the command SEND when we send our email or ENTER on our program start (enter the process)) will get a picture (like a TV signal) that was emited from the station and is received from the TV receiver. in the above example seem very clear Sang’s intention to find the RED PEN. The only Intentional “receiver” available was his gifted dog who could recognize the picture of the PEN and actually search for it…i would say this dog has INTENTIONAL INTELLIGENCE additional to the emotional intelligence to actualy read his “masters Intentions”.

    How Intentional emitting/receiving process works? Here a well known example, OUR “old” TV.

    official Description:
    1.Telecommunication by modulation and radiation of electromagnetic waves.
    2. A transmitter, receiver, or transceiver used for communication via electromagnetic waves.
    3. A general term applied to the use of radio waves.

    Radio thus requires a modulated signal within the radio spectrum, using a transmitter and a receiver. Modulation is a two part process, a current called the carrier, and a signal which bears information. We generate a continuous, high frequency carrier wave, and then we modulate or vary that current with the signal we wish to send. Notice how a voice signal varies the carrier wave below:
    see image in the link:

    This technique to modulate the carrier is called amplitude modulation. Amplitude means strength. A.M. means a carrier wave is modulated in proportion to the strength of a signal. The carrier rises and falls instantaneously with each high and low of the conversation.The voice current, in other words, produces an immediate and equivalent change in the carrier.

    sorry for my grammar hope you can read my “INTENTIONS”


  7. Rosie says:

    Wasn’t sure where to put this but thought it might be of interest especially her comment that her dog grounds her emotionally and physically before an attack.–spirit-gives-her-new-lease-on-life

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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