Many owners of aggressive dogs have visited my farm and done “Trolley Work;” what I also call “Maple Sugaring” wherein we burn off the stress that makes two dogs want to fight each other by running them along parallel trolley lines and thereby get down to the sweet nectar of pure attraction whereafter the dogs are able to make social contact. Many owners find the initial phases with the gnashing of teeth and baring of fangs quite shocking only to be even more stunned when they next see their dog try to play with the other dog that they thought it was trying to hurt but a moment earlier. What they were witnessing was a state of blocked attraction (distress) becoming an open channel (flow).
But of course there’s nothing new under the sun, we’re merely tapping into a primordial, core dynamic, one that I’ve invested in every aspect of Natural Dog Training and in particular the Core Exercises. See what happens when dog meets deer below.
It is my theory that all behavior is a function of attraction and that therefore behavior can only be explained in terms of a physics, not by way of a human psychology. The “locomotive rhythm” is the key. (See page 86 of “Design In Nature” by Adrian Bejan) It’s the basis of Constructal Law and I contend is an animals’ internal metric of well-being and the veritable baseline of animal consciousness. I call the locomotive rhythm the “Constructal Link” between brain and body, it’s how the body plugs the brain into the mind.
When an animal is stimulated it wants to move. This invests its mind with a degree of “emotional momentum.” Movement is the motive. The movement of the body’s mass is an actual physical force that conforms to the principles of physics. And if an animal can move in a manner consonant with its locomotive rhythm, i.e. their anatomical style of fast and efficient movement, then the underlying attraction feels complete merely by virtue of being able to move in a manner that is commensurate with the degree to which they feel attracted. This is the basis of an emotional bond. The Constructal link as the internal metric of well-being.
Physical movement is an energy of momentum and is transferred via the Constructal law by way of laminar (alignment) and turbulent (synchronization) transfers of force. We can see in the video above two points of turbulence (these points become the synchronizing elements, or “midpoints”) as defined by the fence posts, and then the long, laminar exchanges of momentum as dog and deer race along side each other. Note that as the group run proceeds, the dog visibly softens, he is feeling connected to the deer because his degree of attraction is being consummated by physically aligning at full speed and then syncing up with the deer at the end points. The deer is leading the dog, it collapses the turbulence at the end points (the dog’s tail wagging is a turbulent behavior that is a manifestation of the locomotive rhythm when it’s not running) and then the deer initiates the alignment phase of their interaction by stomping its forelegs and then finally determines when it’s had enough (dissipated its emotional momentum) and so the game is over. In a flow system the prey “controls” the predator, and the predator/prey dynamic is the basis of all emotional attraction which is why this trans-species form of communication between a deer and a dog is possible.
The transfer of emotional momentum via the Constructal Law is a universal trans-species form of communication. Nothing could be simpler and we need not invent any human narrative psychology to make sense of a dog running alongside a deer. I think it’s easy to see from this video how dog and man could have co-joined to herd prey species rather than simply hunting them. The video shows us the primordial code by which all animal behavior and social structure is moderated and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary logic or learning by reinforcement theory cannot account for this interaction and seriously distorts the nature of the animal mind because it doesn’t articulate it as a flow system.
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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin BehanIn 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.
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How come the deer stays near the fence as it runs instead of running away from the dog?
That’s the most important question. All animal behavior is an expression of emotion, and all emotion is a function of attraction. The deer is attracted to the dog just as the dog is attracted to the deer. It’s not intention, it’s attraction, and the complexities of any given behavior reveals the intrinsic properties of emotion running to “ground” via laminar and turbulent transfers of force. So just as every object of mass is attracted to every other object of mass in the universe, so too is every animal attracted to every other animal in nature. This is the simple operating principle of consciousness that has been completely missed in the current paradigms for the animal mind.
So why don’t all animals play together? What’s the variable. Why this deer and dog at this time?
Very good question. They have to be able to transfer momentum over the course of a process of elaboration, back and forth so that they both end up being softened enough so that the core code (that is at its most pronounced when the animal is very young) can take over their body/mind. One has to project, the other has to absorb, and then reverse roles, back and forth in a process of elaboration that can conduct their full emotional momentum. Often this happens between the young of different species, or between a young and an old, but in this case the fence served to facilitate the process and it just happened spontaneously for that brief amount of time. If it were to go on everyday, and one day the deer got up the nerve to hop in, the dog would be able to flip polarity and accommodate it. Another vehicle for the dog to differentiate would be to project its self into a stick, and this would serve as a midpoint and give the dog a stronger outlet for its drive, leaving the deer feeling safe. There are you tube videos of a dog and a deer with the dog having a toy in its mouth to ground its stronger drive out.
I should add the rule, like-to-like, but only opposites can connect.
“If it were to go on everyday, and one day the deer got up the nerve to hop in, the dog would be able to flip polarity and accommodate it.”
Because this is increasing the dogs “Emotional Capacity”? Like the trolley work, the pushing, the posting, tug of war, push of war?
Yes, this is the beginning of an emotional bond. And so it is with the core exercises, these allow the dog to feel its locomotive rhythm at full bore just like running in parallel, but help it to do so even when head to head. Through the core the dog feels flow and is then able to flip polarity and differentiate it from the other dog, or person, and then as its opposite can connect.
Without the use of a trolley, and if you were to have two dogs on a leash, one dog on your left side and one dog on your right side, as you move forward in a laminar fashion, is your body the center, as the “fence” is, creating momentum? And where would the end point be for synchronization, working with two dogs and you in between? Can it be a water hole? (As you demonstrated with Trav and the other dog who was aggressive) What is a good end point in that scenario?
I can’t help but think of the temperament of a retired greyhound, having experienced the locomotive rhythm, turbulence, synchronization, head to head forward flow, trained to chase a prey, from a very young age – ending up with soft temperaments. Perhaps because of all the core experiences?
Yes, one can handle a dog and be the catalyst for laminar and turbulence, with aggressive dogs I always use a second helper if I’m not using a fence line or a trolley. Water holes are perfect, but the main thing is to take the static-like effects of stress and run them through the locomotive impulse so that the Constructal link between brain and body can convert this tension into the Locomotive rhythm, i.e. the feeling of flow/weightlessness.
Yes again. Greyhounds at track become so imprinted with ideal locomotive rhythm (which is the point of the core exercises) that they are remarkably calm when adopted.
I am a tracker/ naturalist and bird language practicer and really love your work and the constructal law. It has given me new eyes to see things from.
In tracking we spend a lot of time learning gaits and the patterns of tracks they leave, as this tells us how the animal was moving and how it was moving tells us a lot about its emotions. The animals seem to want to move in there baseline gait most the time(at lease wild animals) and when ever you see a gait not that you stop and interpret.
Dogs have always been the best teachers of gaits because they are so expressive with body language and emotion.
Now I look at this more as a flow of emotion and what is that emotion connected to ? Is what it’s connected to also part of it? Positive/ negative in the environment ? What is flowing ?
With bird language we realize that other animals are moving in the forest and the birds respond to there intent. A hungry bobcat will cause a larger disturbance than a full bobcat. The whole positive/ negative type model seems to make sense and the flow of emotion through the forest.
But the other part of this is about us on this journey. What I mean with this is how we change as people trying to learn from nature. You notice the birds respond to you differently like they are your mirror. The more we soften, use peripheral vision and listen turning our awareness outward the more “invisible” we become to making bird alarms( maybe we become more of the negative). But also more magical things happen In the forest or “coincidences” maybe this is about attracting certain things ? I wonder about things like Native peoples and animal encounters that happen out of the normal having meaning depending on what animals. Maybe they realize that when we put out certain flow/ energy or emotion that it attracted a certain encounter that the meaning not only comes from the animal but that animals means that you where putting out a certain flow(positive/negative).
I just wanted to share some of what your work has got me thinking about and if it brings any helpful thoughts to mind from you.
Thanks for your great work
I greatly appreciate such learned feedback from those of you in the tracking community. I read Tom Brown’s tracking book and the powers of observational detail is a marvel, truly one must become half animal. I too consult the animal medicine wheel when an animal presents itself or acts in an unusual manner, I feel we’re all in this together, our kindred spirits in the animal kingdom are trying to connect. That’s interesting as one becomes more attuned with peripheral vision, this softens our reflection to the birds, we become more accessible. I feel that every animal is attracted to every other animal, and crossing the divide means getting past thoughts and instincts.
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