Learning To Bark Is A Wave
Alwynne writes an excellent blog about her dog “Cholula” which among other themes documents the trials and tribulations of teaching a dog to speak on command.
What’s interesting about the bark-on-command is that some dogs get it instantly whereas for some dogs it can take a long, long…………long, long time. Why is it so hard for some dogs to get their bark out?
We often use the expression “learning curve” and this is an amazingly apt way to term the learning process, however it is at the same time incomplete. Learning has a curve because learning is a wave.
Our intellectual mind, in contrast, perceives the phenomenon of animal learning in chronological terms with the lesson gained being something new. Learning is viewed as a mental event unrelated to what has gone before except by the intellectual processes that connects two events together, such as associations, reinforcements and concepts. It’s a linear equation: Event A + Reinforcement B = Lesson C. Because modern learning theory defines learning in terms of Time, it sees consequences as instrumental in learning, which is what the term reinforcement means, one thing following another so that a lesson is gained and then reflected in a behavior increasing in its intensity and frequency of occurrence.
This is seeing the learning process in a way that we could call inside-out and/or backwards, and I mean this literally. I don’t mean that modern learning theory isn’t an intelligent interpretation of the evidence, I can appreciate how learning in terms of reinforcement seems reasonable. But learning in the animal mind doesn’t work chronologically. It is actually Time running backward, in reverse, it’s not a forward running process and this will prove to be critically relevant as to why some dogs have so much trouble learning to bark forthright and straightforwardly, directly to their owner on command.
One of the ramifications of Einsteins’ theory of relativity is that Time and space are now understood as a continuum. They’re inseparable, comprising a medium that is displaced, for example the continuum curves around objects of mass distorting not only the space around it but the Time around it as well. This means that whatever one can say about space, one can also say about Time and vice versa, and this is very hard to comprehend given our human, intellectual and linear apprehension of Time and causation. If B follows A, we tend to think that A caused B. If a dog growls over a food bowl, we tend to think that the dog is guarding the food bowl. And if we think he’s guarding a food bowl we then think of a reason why, is he afraid he’s going to lose his food, does he want power, access to a resource? The psychological possibilities are infinite.
However since the animal mind evolved to adapt to the space/time continuum, in other words Nature, rather than according to our linear notion of Time, it would be more logical to proceed on the assumption that animals learn in terms of the space/time continuum rather than having had evolved one way of responding to change over space, and a completely different manner for responding to change over Time.
Perhaps you’re sitting at a table. Place an object at one side of the table and another object on the other side. They’re now separated by the space between them on the table. Were you to pick up one end of the table the change in slope is transmitted to the other object; one is now higher relative to the other. Two objects separated by Time can also be viewed this way, it’s just that our intellect isn’t wired to see things playing out over Time as being the same process of change as tilting a table. But Einstein showed that both the table and Time are the same field of energy.
Imagine two buoys floating on the water. One goes up and down and then a few moments later the other goes up and down. Now if we couldn’t see the wave traveling across the water from one buoy to the next, if we had no idea about waves, we might interpret that the second buoy as having moved in response to what the first buoy did, as if it was imitating it. And if the buoys were really close so that they bumped into each other, creating an additional pattern of action and counteraction, we might then have another far more complex interpretation predicated on an intention in A having caused an intention in B and so on. We would miss that it is the wave that ties the behavior of the two buoys together and generates the complexities of their interaction.
Next imagine if these two buoys were separated by Time rather than distance so that you could only see one buoy at a time. One buoy rises and falls, and then much later, we come to find out that another buoy has risen and fallen in a similar way. Think how we would interpret their behavior if we didn’t know anything about the action of a wave. We’d have to come up with some kind of reasoning predicated on local conditions for the behavior of the two buoys because we’d have no way of seeing the connection between their behavior in terms of a wave.
Imagine a whole fleet of buoys spread out over many miles and that they end up synchronizing but again we can’t see the collectivized action because of the distance. Next imagine the same thing but instead of a fleet of buoys separated by distance, the “fleet” is the same buoy separated by a thousand moments inTime. Again, since the human intellect perceives and categorizes experience on a linear time table that doesn’t acknowledge Time and space as interchangeable, we would need to invent a complex psychology to account for all the correlation we observe in a complex moving system, be it the synchronization of a number of individuals or the synchronization of one individual with its circumstances over a number of days, weeks, months and years. Our intellectual tendency would be to think of all of this change in behavior as based on the local events and circumstances, all of which is tied together with mental constructs and concepts. The phenomena of things becoming synchronized over distance, or one thing becoming synchronized to circumstances over Time, would be interpreted in terms of a linear system of causes and effects and if we’re dealing with sentient beings, the only thing we could imagine tying it all together is a psychology.
So am I talking about an invisible wave? Yes and no. The wave is invisible to our normal ways of thinking about learning in animals, we can’t see it spreading like a ripple across the surface of the water, rather, the wave transpires within consciousness itself. Our bodies and minds as vessels for emotion are the medium, and the wave is the inverse relationship between emotion and stress and this is something that we are feeling all the time. In fact it’s the most concrete and vivid aspect of conscious experience. The wave is self-contained, the rising and falling occurring within the animal body/mind, then to be broadcast via personality and behavior and with an intensity and frequency that is indeed analogous to an actual wave traveling over distance. Emotion becoming unresolved emotion, becoming resolved emotion, has its own ebbing and rising independent of individual volition and local circumstances. Agents of consciousness are carriers of the emotional wave just as electrons are consigned to carry an electrical force. The interplay between emotion and stress is a wave that travels over distance and through Time.
If one were to consider that the “ups” and “downs” of what dogs do are the physical embodiments of how emotion as a group energy is working within their body/minds, just like looking at buoys bobbing in a harbor to a common wave, or one buoy in the harbor moving over Time in response to the tides, then one is seeing emotion as a wave radiating across the surface of consciousness. One moment emotion rises and then it falls in another moment, the peak and the valley separated by Time, which again is the same as the bobbing of two buoys separated by distance. Stress is the equal and opposite of emotion and so the interplay between emotion and stress computes for a wave within an individual over a period of Time, and also in synchronizing a number of individuals who are emotionally attracted to one another and encompassed within the same frame of reference. So there isn’t an actual wave (and even though there may very well be one in terms of telepathy, but I’m concerned here with the down to earth phenomenon of rudimentary learning) but there is a principle of emotional conductivity that induces a rhythm for consciousness, and there is for every action an equal and opposite reaction because of the inverse relationship of emotion to stress and this is how out of even jostling and interference synchronization can arise over space and over Time.
Stress is the physical memory of resistance to the expression of emotion that the animal carries with it over distance and over Time. And we can see this wave moving through our dog, most especially when teaching it to bark on command, because of how stress crystallizes around the body’s center-of-gravity.
Stress contains the memory of physical and emotional movement. How an animal learns in terms of space is also how it learns in terms of Time. An animal moves stress forward into Time by projecting its physical center-of-gravity onto objects of resistance; just as it moves its body forward over distance by projecting its physical center-of-gravity onto objects of attraction. Physical memory is projected in every act of perception.
The biomechanics of emotional and physical movement are the same wave. The animal mind does not make a distinction between these two experiences because how it aligns its body around its physical center-of-gravity and then moves forward in a rhythmic/symmetrical motion to get to where and to what it wants, is the same dynamic by which it relates to other beings, an object of resistance with which it is compelled to connect with and synchronize. How the animal mind focuses its energy (subliminal attention on its physical center-of-gravity) to move its body over distance, is how it focuses its energy to move its body/mind over Time. We’re looking at the phenomenon of learning backwards and inside-out because all physical memory of emotional experience (stress) is configured around the physical center of gravity, and projecting the past forward into Time and space, means that learning is actually Time running backwards. The past is projected forward and then learning is the process of configuring the physical and emotional body around that trajectory through a calculus of motion/emotion. The animal mind relives the past in the moment just as if it has traveled back in Time, but, along the way in order to connect and synchronize with an object of resistance it gains a new configuration (sociability) in order to reconnect with its old “self.” What we call learning is the past coming forward to incorporate an object of resistance into the configuration.
So what then does a wave have to do with the question of Cholula and the highly resistant bark. Why is it so hard for her to get her bark out?
When an animal wants something, and since objects of desire don’t generally rush into waiting jaws agape, it must move toward what it wants. This of course begins during infancy and what is acquired in this early phase of life continues on into the future and serves as the imprint for all subsequent emotional experience and learning.
In order to move from point A to point B the animal must subliminally focus on its physical center-of-gravity in order to configure its body symmetrically about it while simultaneously maintaining its gaze on the object of desire. Locomotion requires both of these to be held in mind at the same time and if you’ve ever watched a toddler learn to toddle, you can see how initially this is very hard to do, most especially when the object of desire is moving. The problem being that when a toddler really wants something, they try to reach out, or they move too fast for their capacity to maintain a symmetrical configuration about their physical center-of-gravity under such a high rate of change. And if they lose track of their physical center-of-gravity and over-extend in any direction, they face-plant. If you’ve hung around any litters you see young puppies performing their share of flying chin-thumps as well.
As the young master locomotion, objects of attraction become simultaneously fused with their sense of their physical center-of-gravity and soon they can intuitively project a forward looking trajectory without having to consciously concentrate on the subliminal beam that is constantly tracking the movement of their p-cog within their body. Their mind is becoming configured around an object of attraction in terms of their body being configured around their physical center-of-gravity, with the rate of change automatically being translated into a corresponding body mechanics. During the recent Olympics in the parallel bar competition, it was fascinating to watch in super slow motion how the best gymnasts right before launching from the low bar, could be seen looking at the exact spot on the high bar they were going to end up after a mind boggling series of flips, twists, rotations and counters spins that would deliver them from out of sight to precisely that spot. That quick darting glance automatically triggered the complex physical memories of motor responses so that the body will find itself configured around an axis that leads to that point in Time and space.
As the animal mind masters the complex dynamics of locomotion, especially at high speed, it projects its physical center-of-gravity to the spot where its body is eventually going to be in order to obtain an object of attraction. All the steps required to get there are automatically factored into that gaze by way of the subliminal beam tapping into the physical center of gravity and the sequence of motor movements that will automatically accomplish the task and that are imprinted in physical memory.
The gait of the dog as it travels across the ground is a wave function, a rhythmic symmetrical rising and falling of its p-cog with its body configured around it. The fastest gait is called the “rotary gallop:” http://vanat.cvm.umn.edu/gaits/rotGallop.html and this is especially interesting because one, it represents the state when the body is least impeded by resistance and two, it’s characterized by two specific points of suspension when all four feet are off the ground. One state of suspension is the thrusting state when the rear end is driving and the front feet splaying forward, and the other is the collecting state when all four limbs are tucked under the body in order to gather for the next thrust of extension. These states of suspension are synonymous with joy. When running at full speed the dog is performing an optimal wave function and which is characterized by the output (forward thrust) and the input (collected position). My theory is that the dog experiences running at full speed as tantamount to flying, as if it is literally in a state of physical suspension, like a hawk riding a thermal updraft.
The animal mind associates the smooth wave action and the suspension it feels while running as the “reason” for how they got to where, or to what, they wanted. The dog doesn’t think that because I ran from point A to point B, this is how I got what I wanted. From the dog’s point of view, an object of attraction is the same as a good feeling and a good feeling is the same as riding a wave. It is the wave that accomplishes the task, not a linear understanding of chronological events in Time. The object triggers the wave, and running at full speed fully channels that high degree of stimulation triggered by the object. The dog doesn’t even necessarily want the object per se for its intrinsic value, rather it wants to ride the wave that the object triggers in physical memory. The dog doesn’t really want the ball, it wants the wave the ball elicits in its body/mind. This is just like a surfer paddling furiously to get on the crest of a wave so that he can then ride it to shore and enjoy the thrill of being lifted and borne aloft for the ride. Getting to the shore didn’t reinforce the surfer’s behavior, experiencing the lift of the wave and the feeling of flying is why a surfer surfs. (This is also why deer and horses love to run, why whales love to breech, and why falling in love feels good.)
Whenever a dog wants something, in the first instant of attraction it relives the physical memory of acceleration generated by its powerful hind end muscles because it has learned to associate that thrust with rushing toward an object of desire, just as a surfer associates the furious paddling to get in position to be that which “caught” the wave to be ridden. The dog becomes driven to be in output mode in order to catch up to the wave that he’s not yet riding. (Again, objects of desire don’t tend to walk into the dog’s waiting jaws, owners tend to throw them.) So after that experience of a surge forward, the dog must either be able to run at full speed so as to be on the wave, or, synchronize with the object of attraction/resistance especially if the object of resistance is going to be standing still and has a body/mind of its own that may not be feeling like getting wet in that moment.
The question now becomes for the energized dog, can the object of desire absorb the momentum it is suddenly invested with? If the object runs away then of course it can because the dog can chase it. But the momentum can also be absorbed if the object of resistance is (1) a “belly-upperrer” and if (2) the stimulated dog can feel that the other dog is a belly-upperrrer.
But if the object of attraction is going to resist (i.e. not going to run away or go belly-up), and therefore not absorb the dog’s momentum, then the dog will instantly project ahead in Time and over distance (via a feeling) that it’s headed for a crash and this should give us a new perspective on what an aggressive dog is experiencing. The dog is feeling a thrust of acceleration but is projecting its “self” into a stone wall. It can feel the imminent collapse of attraction the same instant it can feel the thrust of acceleration. The dog will try to hold that thrust back (by stiffening its forequarters and raising its tail) to avert the crash, but often the thrust leaks out in a growl as the most intense point of tension has squeezed past the shoulders and begins to clamp the muzzle down. The dog is perceiving that if by pushing against that point of fixation in its muzzle, it can push back against the force driving it toward the “wall” (object of resistance). It’s literally trying to push the “wall” away. The dog’s jaws are tight and its muzzle bristles as it pushes out as much energy as it can but at some point the intensity could get so high that it can’t hold back any longer. And if the the dam breaks so that the dog succumbs to the forward thrust and unloads this surge onto the object of resistance, such as another dog, no matter what happens, no matter how negative the consequence, even if it gets beaten to within an inch of its life, the relief the dog experienced in that first instant of collapse will be the most prominent aspect of what it experienced. It may end up beaten, bloodied and battered, but it will FEEL better.
On the other hand, and hopefully, if the dog can achieve a state of physical and/or emotional suspension, either by being able to run freely or by coming into a state of synchronization with the object of resistance, then its whole body opens up, the tension dissolves, it feels free to move and knows it’s safe. Both the free fluid running gait of physical motion, or a state of emotional synchronization, are handled by the projection of the dog’s physical center-of-gravity forward: either into the distance ahead if we’re talking the dynamics of locomotion, or onto an object of resistance if we’re talking about the dynamics of emotion. If the object would run away at full speed, then the dog is free to run free and then the thrust of acceleration is being accommodated until it dissipates below a dangerous “crash” level and this is why dogs socialize better off/lead than on. But when the object of resistance is not moving, the dog feels compelled to paw, nip, or ride up on its back. It’s trying to position its body so that the object of resistance will absorb the momentum of the forward thrust that it is reliving through physical memory of a deeply implanted imprint.
Consciousness has an output and an input component to the emotional cycle. In the act of running, the output cycle is the extension of the limbs beyond the torso to generate the stride; the input cycle is the collection of the limbs under the torso as the dog gathers itself for the next stride. The problem for the aggressive or reactive dog is that it is stuck in the pushing-out-energy modality (output) trying to maintain stasis and cannot let in the object of attraction into its body/mind. The input aspect of consciousness is not in the process. So when we’re asking a dog to bark, we’re asking them to resist the tumble of motor responses related to running that are elicited by that rapid sensation of acceleration, and instead, let the rushing up of force immediately be returned and subsumed into the collected–input cycle of the emotional body/mind dynamic, WITHOUT TAKING ANY PHYSICAL ACTION WHATSOEVER. We’re asking the dog to resist thousands of hours of conditioning to be in high forward motion; and instead of that to collect itself, to absorb at full force all that momentum and return it to the internal emotional dynamic for digestion, as opposed to a lifetime pattern of lurching into a run at full speed. This is why when we first ask a dog to bark he begins to jump up and scratch at our chests because they’re responding to and reliving the physical memory of running. He might also begin to look away scanning for an object of attraction he can release all that thrust into a run, especially if the dog has a well worn groove of ball chasing in its body/mind. As the dog tries to get out a bark, you can literally see his body convulsing in a wave that is swelling and sweeping through his body/mind and to which the dog reflexively responds to with the body mechanics of running up your front. You can see the wave building inside his body until it reaches a peak state and then collapses into some coping mechanism, such as avoidance, lip licking, jitterbugging with the feet, scratching at your chest, etc., etc., all of which is because it can’t resort to running and doesn’t yet have the bark available.
Finally when all the futzing around doesn’t work, and if the dog feels deeply grounded into its owner, many dogs will in short order next feel the collected state of the rotational gallop—the strong input surge coaxed to the forefront of its awareness by the the food we’re enticing it with—-and quickly settle back into their haunches. They might go into a down but will feel most comfortable settling into a sit, especially given that they’re looking up at us with the food in our hand. Pressing their hind end into the ground makes it easier for them to hold their subliminal beam deep down in the gut as it doubles up on the sensations from their hind end in contact with the ground. This helps them resist the reflexes affiliated with running and maintain their subliminal attention on the input cycle. In other words, rather than throwing its front legs out in extension as the first beat of a gallop, it will now be able to throw out a bark instead. The bark and the rotational gallop are the same conditions because they both involve the projection of the physical center-of-gravity at the highest state of energization and have an equally strong input and output cycle as equal and opposite components of the body/mind continuum. This is why police dogs can hold a criminal at bay with a deep metered bark and not be in any conflict whatsoever because the wave of a deep, metered bark fully channels the strong wave of running at full speed.
So why do some dogs get it so quickly whereas others take so long? It 100% depends on how much fear the dog has invested in those motor patterns of locomotion that historically have led it to relief. For those dogs with a history of intense attraction (intensity is a function of fear) on objects of attraction/resistance that are chased and brought to ground through the simple prey instinct, with all their intensity being channeled into this kind of rigid fixation so that if they’re not running at full speed then that energy of momentum immediately becomes converted into panic, and which additionally are very inhibited and friendly to humans so that they are blocked about expressing fear to the path of highest resistance, a human being; it can take days, weeks, months, even years to get the bark out because they’re having to resist that forward thrust of acceleration which for their entire life has represented success and relief, and on which they feel their life depends when dealing with objects of resistance of a high intensity value. This doesn’t mean the interim training all those days, weeks and months prior to the bark coming out isn’t profoundly meaningful, the process of trying to get past the fear is therapeutic in its own right and begins to reap benefits right away. And this therapeutic benefit is happening because learning is Time running backwards; when we’re trying to draw out a dog’s bark, we’re actually reaching back in Time and creating the space in its body/mind for a new wave pattern to take hold so that the emotional buoys can get back to rising and falling in synchrony, in phase with the emotional tides on which all living beings float.
A dog with a strong fear imprint defines joy as a state of physical suspension whereas a dog that is socially confident defines joy as a state of emotional suspension.When we’re asking a bark-resistant dog to speak on command we’re asking that they project their fear into us and then compute a new wave pattern in defiance of millions of years of instinct and thousands of hours of conditioning. We’re asking them to turn an old fear into a new feeling.
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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.
|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.