Recently tried to present my interpretation of “calming signals” to a group on Facebook that represented that they were a forum interesting in discussing what’s going on in calming signals. There was much magical thinking going on such as: “Dogs are good at calming signals because they had to be good at calming signals since they live as a group.” It turned out that only psychological theories are to be discussed and incredibly they believe that when a dog is issuing a threat, it’s in reality part of the calming repertoire of signals rather than an indication of insecurity. The fact that a so-called “threat display” will actually trigger an aggressive response when encountering a dog that is predisposed toward aggression and that a “threat display” can only “threaten” a dog that is NOT predisposed toward aggression, doesn’t seem to factor into the psychology. A display of fear actually attracts the very fear that the dog is afraid of but that doesn’t matter in the long, long natural scheme of things because at least an aggressive encounter will release the emotion the fear in that particular dog is trying to hold back. Whereas my theory is that what is being misinterpreted as a signal, be it voluntary or involuntary, is in reality part of an emotional mirroring process that is predicated on the internal dynamics of emotion and its principle of movement, rather than cognition or instinct. One half of the emotional mirroring process is the phenomenon of synchronization, the other half is the phenomenon of alignment. If dogs align and synchronize, then they get along because the emotion of both is moving, and this is what is really going on in the phenomenon that has been mislabeled “calming signals” and which is intimately affiliated with social behavior. The calming signal people think that alignment and synchronization are mysterious forces that fall outside the scope of science.
“(Medical Xpress)—Humans have a tendency to spontaneously synchronize their movements. For example, the footsteps of two friends walking together may synchronize, although neither individual is consciously aware that it is happening. Similarly, the clapping hands of an audience will naturally fall into synch. Although this type of synchronous body movement has been observed widely, its neurological mechanism and its role in social interactions remain obscure. In a new study, led by cognitive neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), researchers found that body-movement synchronization between two participants increases following a short session of cooperative training, suggesting that our ability to synchronize body movements is a measurable indicator of social interaction.”
Note that when people walk together, they are already in alignment thus increasing the opportunity for synchronization. So if your dog is having trouble being in sync, work on alignment. And if your dog has trouble being in alignment, work on being in sync. That’s the beauty of the pushing exercise, once resistance is out of the way (which is why dogs issue “threat displays” in interactions) then it’s easy for the dog to get to being in alignment and in sync. Animals have an innate urge to be in sync and in alignment with the emotional context of their surroundings because this increases their emotional capacity. They can convert fear into flow when aligned and in sync with others, (this is why starling murmurations are restorative). In this way they can affiliate with others and collectivize their emotional energies so as to increase their chances of survival, reproduction, but most of all, make new energy (turn stress into flow).