By now we’ve all seen a video that’s gone viral about the mysterious hold cats have over dogs.
One blogger thinks this is due to a decline of intelligence in the modern dog.
And while it’s true that there has been a decline in the physical and emotional constitution of dogs (see the chapter: “The Late, Great Doberman Pinscher” in “Your Dog Is Your Mirror”); when a dog is stymied by a cat this has nothing to do with dog smarts—-as if the modern dog is being bred with a duller intellect than dogs of yesteryear.
What we see in these vignettes is the prey-predator dynamic—the energetic logic of all emotional interactions–and this has been going on between dogs and cats for as long as there have been cats and dogs, in fact it has going on between animals for as long as there have been animals. The hold that cats have over dogs reveals a universal code in animal consciousness, an emotional module which organizes all emotional interactions and relationships. The Prey (in this case the cat) Controls the Predator (in this case the dog). This is a systems’ logic based on universal emotional values and the principle of emotional conductivity. It’s simply the way the animal mind is put together to implement a network consciousness. Interactions are not the reconciliation of individuated and rational points of view.
The animal mind constructs a view of reality so that the Negative-(predatory aspect)-Grants-Access-to-the-Positive (preyful aspect). Interactions and learning transpire within and upon this template. Thus, if a cat is in control of its body (preyful aspect), its attention (predatory aspect) which is the focal beam from which it will direct its force, will exert emotional leverage over the dog. In this way the cat’s negative (attention directing force) is denying access to the cat’s positive. Eventually the cat will grant the dog access to its body in order to increase its own sensual enjoyment of its body, not to mention the sensual feedback it gets from pawing and maw-ing the dog’s body. And if the cat adds in a dose of prey-like spice during the course of their interaction, i.e. writhing upside down, strategically retreating to a safe place from where it will launch a new advance, then this is its predatory aspect “tuning” the dog’s attraction to the cat until the cat is getting the sensual kind of feedback it craves.
The predatory aspect is physically manifested as the eyes whereas the preyful aspect is physically manifested by anything to do with the body. Even plant eating animals have a predatory aspect since they must focus their attention and direct their force in order to live, and even meat eating animals have a preyful aspect since they do indeed have a body. Cats have more prey energy than dogs as it takes less pressure to put them to flight, they are smaller and they act more prey-like. Yet they have a pronounced predatory aspect because they are of course prolific hunters. Therefore if they can remain grounded in their body (via subliminal beam of attention on their gut, i.e. remain “collected”) when in the presence of a dog, they can perform emotional jujitsu and toss them like an Akido master.
Interactions elaborate beyond the simple prey/predator duality to become almost infinitely complex because these two basic polarities can evolve into their more complex derivatives: the traits of Direct–Indirect—Active—Reactive in order to implement more complex manners of absorbing, combining and directing force. Within a given frame of reference, if one individual is Direct and Active, the other MUST complement it by being Indirect and Reactive. These traits are how animals are able to align and synchronize emotionally so that they can become entrained around common objects of attraction. In the videos the cats are basically just looking intently at the dog. The cats are in load/overload emotional mode, not doing anything active about the dog, only reacting to the dog. The cat enjoys emotional leverage because it has a highly arousing prey-like form which makes the dog feel OPEN (this is why I say the cat is occupying the prey polarity) but then when this is held in the dog’s mind in juxtaposition to the cat’s predatory aspect, this makes the dog feel vulnerable and hence its sheepish attitude. The dog needs to complement the cat. Because the dog is going by feel whereas the cat by instinct, the dog MUST fit the cat and itself into the group dynamic, a systems logic as opposed to an individuated rational logic.
From the dog’s point of view, the cat’s predatory aspect is reflecting the emotion/stress it is projecting onto the cat, right back at it. The cat isn’t giving off any prey vibration. It’s motionless, directing its attention at the dog. So the dog projects a “ping” and gets back a ping, and this is experienced as a mounting state of pressure. In terms of the systems’ logic, the cat is being Reactive and the dog Active as it is the dog who is active about moving through the hall or down the stairs to get to the owner. But the cat is also being Direct and this is the rub in the system’s logic. The dog is attracted to the owner through Active/Direct as it tries to go from point A to point B in a straight line. The dog would like to shift to Indirect as indicated by its averted gaze, soft body and facial expressions and rounded eyes (in equal/opposite response to cats keenly focused gaze), but the space is too narrow and this prevents it from giving the cat a wider berth and satisfy the system logic that includes it and the cat. Therefore the dog feels blocked. The resistance the dog experiences from being compressed with the cat in the same frame of reference, brings deeper and deeper physical memories to the surface and we see the dog acting out these early litter experiences via barking, pawing, play bows. The dog is stuck until in a few cases, its owner gets it excited enough to abandon the frame of reference that includes the cat and induces the dog to become wholly fixated on the owner. In that case there is a different group dynamic and the dog is free to act directly and pass the cat.
While the language of a system logic may be clunky, I trust one can see that it is a far more parsimonious interpretation of complex interactions such as this, and is the only manner of analysis that does not insert a human chronological rational interpretation.
<<< BTW: The exact same dynamic is going on when a dog is given a biscuit but rather than eating it, takes up station in a strategic position with the treat positioned between his paws and thus blocks another dog's access to a room or passage through a hall. >>>
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The prey-predator dynamic, although a little difficult to grasp all aspects, seems to me to be the best explanation for what happens next.
When the door opens, the cat bolts across the yard, the dog hot on it’s trail, up the tree the cat goes or it’s curtains for the cat.
If you own both cats and dogs you have probably seen it play out over and over again. In the house, cats rule, in the yard, dogs are in charge. By your explanation, as the cat sprints across the yard, the prey(cat) acts like prey, and the predator(dog) acts like predator.
But what about when the cat, gets to the tree, decides he doesn’t want to climb the tree(or he can’t because he has no claws), he turns
around stares and hisses at the dog(s), normally works in the house, but alas, the dogs aren’t having any part of it, they continue on in their
predatory pursuit, until the horrified owners see what’s about to happen and intervene just in the nick of time…..?
Is this a case of predator- prey flow unleashed?
What about the predator unfazed by the prey response to stand and reflect the predator aspect back, the dog already in the predator
flow appears unstoppable?
I have seen this happen several times. Dogs who live with cats, know the rules; In the house, Cats in charge. In the yard, Dogs in charge.
Here is where it gets interesting. Dog w/no cat experience, sees cat in house, acts just like cat in the yard. Cat is rattled, the
rules have changed, it(the cat) becomes an unrecognizable ball of teeth, spiked fur, and horrific noises!
Meanwhile, the Dogs who live w/ said cat watch the goings on w/ WTF??? expressions on their faces, or so it seems, or maybe they’re just mirroring my WTF??? expressions on my face.
Yes, in the outdoors the cat’s flight threshold is much lower, plus, a cat has a need to be chased as daily life builds up a charge and the perceived presence of a predator gives an animal instinctive license to discharge, thus it does the zoom-zoom-zoom scaredy-cat up the tree routine if the wind rustles a leaf near it. Similarly but conversely, when the wolves are let into the fenced Bison field at Wolf Park, due to the fence there is no Charge and the buffalo aren’t going to run anywhere and so they just stand there and send pings ricocheting right back at the wolves.
The “In Charge” thing is actually “The Charge,” in other words, the special emotional properties and behavioral responses as to when the last .01% is triggered, and when an animal is in emotional overload when charged then it moves reflexively through the prey instinct. This is why if a dog does not kill a cat, the cat will run the dog. Prey instinct versus Prey Drive. We can see in the video that these are all mush mellow dogs, but I’ve lived with hard core imports that never saw a cat in their life and our house cat ultimately came to run the dog. At first I took pains to protect it, sequestering the dog and giving the cat free rein. Then I did the cat in crate routine, and then the cat ultimately sensed its emotional leverage and they lived happily ever after with the occasional chase the cat up the tree when out in the yard routine. It became clear to me that the cat gave a special “OMG, You’re going to get me aren’t you?” look in his eye as his body was poised to run. Sure enough the dog obliged and eventually even that became ritualized so that if the cat lost interest the dog just circled about looking for the cat that used to be running returning once in a while to snuffle the stationary cat. In general, if the dogs are socialized with cats, even if the cat doesn’t climb the tree it will be able to reflect right back at the dogs. However if there are more than one dog, and if their Charge is particularly intense, this can cause the cat to vibrate and lose its capacity to reflect back at the dogs.
The arched back, hiss, spit and swipe of the cat is it maximizing its predatory aspect. They usually do just enough to shock the dog without pushing him past the threshold whereupon the dog would have to react. Let me put it this way, think of a rising intensity value of pressure that is approaching the peak value that the dog is capable of holding back. Think of this as the second hand sweeping along the circumference of the clock face with 12:00 being an individual’s overload threshold. If the dog gets so charged that the intensity value goes to 12:01, then the cat occupies the weak-prey polarity and can no longer inhibit the dog. This is the same dynamic by which the cat catches the mouse. It lies there paralyzed by the predatory aspect of the mouse, not moving, and when the mouse gets too far from cover and too close to the cat, the inhibition point is passed because the compression value of the mouse pushes the cat over its threshold and so it pounces. The mouse is now 12:01, i.e. the weak-prey polarity. We too are familiar with the Charge going over threshold as when someone pushes their criticism of us past our point of acceptance and our capacity to introspect and then we suddenly are past our inhibition threshold and we push back if not lash out.
Much to think about. I get the overview, in other words, I see the key turn, the engine start, but still don’t quite grasp what is
going on under the hood.
The main thing is that like-to-like = friction. (only opposites can connect) It’s like touching the positive pole of a battery to the positive pole of another battery. The sparks and the fur will fly. So if the cat is overwhelmed by a dog that is too intense so that aggression results, it’s because both were being active and direct. If the intensity of their encounter is strong enough, this triggers their last .01%, “The Charge,” that which is held in reserve for critical moments. The heat and friction we observe that is so jarring to our senses is due to the fact that they can’t align and become in sync so that their mutual momenta can be smoothly transferred to the environment. One must absorb the other’s momentum. (Emotion has a momentum value.) That’s the system logic that underwrites all transactions. If on the other hand the cat runs and acts like prey, it could very well be killed but from the system point of view, momentum has been transferred. If the dog has very strong drive, is not socialized to cats (which merely means becoming the equal and opposite), and is also Charged by the resistance of the cat so that all its physical memory is summoned to the surface in one instantaneous blast, then even the resistance of the cat is perceived as prey vibration since the dog is regressed to when the oral urge was the strongest part of its constitution, that time in puppyhood when every little movement was perceived as prey-like. The stress that the cat is triggering in the dog needs to be grounded, and this is what leads the dog to try to bite the cat as hard as it can. But even so the transfer isn’t that smooth because the cat isn’t purely like prey, and the dog isn’t in sync with others which would mitigate that effect (as for example when wolves hunt together) and so over the long term the dog’s charge will intensify and we will find that it is getting too electric in other areas of its life.
What I’m reading from varies points on this interesting post is that a dog can be regressed to varies stages of puppyhood with different conclusions and actions thereafter
First been that it can relive early puppy experiences such as barking , pawing and playbows , and the second been that the dog can relive the more intense biting , chase anything that moves stage
I felt that regressing or reliving puppyhood was generally a good thing with positive consequences which didn’t involve confrontation or aggression
Just on a further note , something that just struck me. Are different stages of puppy hood just different breeds of dog , as if the different breeds are stuck in different stages of development ??
Here’s my theory on the layers of physical memory. The very first memories imprinted would be those of flow, actually from within the womb. The mother of course is engaged with the outer world and so her stress chemicals, immune responses and physiological discomfits (Spikes) register with the fetuses in the womb, but outside of abject sheer trauma inflicted on the mother, these are pretty much subsumed and integrated with the feeling of flow emanating in the developing body/mind of the fetal pups from their deep, visceral processes. Then the puppy is born and is jolted into life, that shock of contact with planet earth is registered as imbalance and weighted-ness and that again is almost immediately subsumed back into the apprehension of flow with suckling and the subsequent sleep. This is the imprint of the “negative” SPIKE-of-BIRTH as access to the positive, flow/ingestion of milk and then sleep. So we can say that the earliest physical memories are of the negative as something positive given that it leads to ingestion and total calmness, i.e. flow. Because puppies are so ravenously hungry (as are the young of all species) they are strongly primed to view interruptions as potential energy, so the slightest quiver in their otherwise motionless littermate is something to be pounced upon (this is what allows the predator to overcome the prey-in-control-of-predator when it’s charged. It’s how the predator feels the moment is right to strike. I believe I can speak with credibility here from training police/protection dogs as the role of the helper to strike a motionless criminal.) During this infant phase, there are many interruptions that are subsumed with nursing and sleep and outside of beyond the pale trauma, no Pain Memories are yet recorded in the emotional battery. The pup learns to absorb another’s momentum because physical contact and rough play feels sensual given that they’re perceiving through the hunger circuitry. But then the rigors of life hit when the pup begins to expand its sense-of-self beyond the safe confines of litter hood and the emotional bubble that encapsulates them. As they begin to be able to focus their energies into penetrating out of Direct/Active mode, the adults begin to whup up on them and then these stress/pain memories of interruptions are predicated on loss of balance and this begins to constrict the capacity to perceive and apprehend through the hunger circuitry. At any rate, if one regresses the dog deep enough, the flow memories become available, this is the only reason why dogs are able to respond positively to being corrected whereas a cat or monkey would be freaked out.
Coppinger’s theory is that breeds of dogs are different stages of puppy hood and I think he makes a compelling argument. I also find that consistent with my theory. The only thing I would add is that neotony, sensuality and hunting are all different variants on the same emotional process, the brain-to-gut connection wherein the predatory aspect of an Object-of-Attraction/Resistance arouses the hunger circuitry as opposed to the balance circuitry.
“The resistance the dog experiences from being compressed with the cat in the same frame of reference, brings deeper and deeper physical memories to the surface and we see the dog acting out these early litter experiences via barking, pawing, play bows.
The dog is stuck until in a few cases, its owner gets it excited enough to abandon the frame of reference that includes the cat and induces the dog to become wholly fixated on the owner. In that case there is a different group dynamic and the dog is free to act directly and pass the cat.”
Not understanding what’s meant by change of ‘frame of reference’/dynamic as it pertains to resistance and attraction.
Are you saying that the frame of reference has changed so the resistance caused by the cat is no longer relevant, because of a new group dynamic (and so the dog is free of the resistance)? This seems to dismiss a fundamental tenet of the theory if you can say in a certain situation, well the dynamic has changed, so never mind the resistance.
Or are you saying that the attraction and resultant drive to get to owner allows the dog to overcome the cat resistance? If so, then how has the frame of reference and group dynamic changed? The cat is still there offering resistance, and the owner is still causing attraction, no?
Or are you saying that the owner excitement has ‘activated’ the hunger circuitry and overridden the balance concern caused by the cat (i.e., the frame of reference has shifted from balance to hunger)?
I guess I don’t understand what constitutes the ‘frame of reference’.
It’s important to have meticulous language and a coherent model standing behind the terminology and so I appreciate the chance to clarify and improve where necessary. (Some have tried to imitate NDT model by making one up out of thin air using random scientific terms and we quickly see these efforts peter out as they can’t embrace into a coherent whole the nuance of behavior, not to mention the phenomena of consciousness, sexuality, personality and learning in a way that is consistent with an evolutionary process. Thus they quickly give up. Every element has to add up into a whole. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a mystery, but rather that the mystery is being addressed on a deeper level.)
The dog doesn’t have an idea that the cat is in the hall and it can just walk by the cat to get to the owner. It feels a pull to the owner or a place that is down the hall, but because the cat is occupying a strategic spot therein, the dog perceives the cat as the foremost object of attraction/resistance, the most intense predatory aspect in its frame of reference and thus by the laws of the group dynamic it must fit with the cat in that space, which means it has to evolve a complementary trait to fit with the cat. The cat is Reactive/Direct, and so we see the dog evolve toward Active/Indirect. The dog tries to elaborate with the cat so that they can both fit together but the cat is locked into Reactive/Direct and merely pings this emotional projection right back at the dog. So the dog is stuck because there isn’t enough space to accommodate the Indirect pathway and the intensity grows even more. During this encounter the dog’s emotional battery is being triggered by the intensity of this impasse and it generates tried and true traits (all the various behaviors we observe) from its memory banks as it tries to elaborate with the cat to fit within the same frame of reference. (If on the other hand the dog had flopped polarity and then while upside down had softly batted at the cat, (Active/Indirect) he could have fit with the cat and would now enjoy emotional leverage as object-of-attraction and if he increased his rate-of-change, (made his predatory aspect more intense) I predict the cat would then move out of his way.)
But next in the video the intensity of the owner gets high enough by the increasing pressure/stimulation until the dog shifts its frame of reference from Cat as most intense object of attraction/resistance, to Owner as most intense object of attraction/resistance. Now in this frame of reference it can fit with the owner by acting Active/Direct and so it runs past the cat toward owner. The resistance from the cat did not go away, rather it was subsumed into the dynamic of this new frame of reference which is why we see the dog dash past the cat rather than calmly walk by as if the cat wasn’t there. So that intensity generated by the cat continued to register in the group dynamic as indeed it ended up adding to the dog’s acceleration toward its owner.
So a frame of reference is defined by the most intense predatory aspect in the moment, all the positives are configured around this precipitating catalyst. A frame of reference has a direction of flow, from predator-to-prey poles, a rate of flow, i.e. how much acceleration is channeled into grounded Flow (what I mean by Momentum), and then coordinates like the cardinal points around the compass emerge and this is what then allows the group to configure themselves (by way of acting Direct-Active-Indirect-Reactive) into a coherent whole the advantage to which is that they can then combine their collective energies in order to subsume even greater objects of resistance into the configuration. In this way of looking at things, the negative defines behavior, not the positive. I would also point out this is the only interpretation of behavior that is consistent with the Constructal law, inarguably the process by which nature evolves every design to be found. Every other interpretation of behavior I’ve ever encountered is incompatible with the Constructal law because it has been a human, chronological narrative imposed on the minds of animals as an act of intellectual expediency.
OK, that makes sense. I think I was just missing a definition for FoR, and identification of which component has changed (the Most Intense Negative).
In this dynamic, does the owner also have a clear position in a D-A-I-R quadrant in order to catalyze this shift?
I’m using the term Frame of Reference in the sense that physicists do when they talk about relative motion with things that are moving. It’s a small domain of consciousness within the larger matrix of alternative possibilities. In the videos I hear the owner acting either Direct/Active as in pressuring the dog, which then increases the problem for the dog with the cat in the hall, or they get into a sing-songy voice of encouragement which is offering the dog the Indirect avenue in a passive Reactive manner so that the dog can act Direct and Active toward the owner and adopt the owner as the new intensity value in the new Frame of Reference.