Cousy Getting Under The Charge


If a dog doesn't love to bite, then it needs to bite and a dog that guards something (food/resting place/body region/owner's attention) is how that dog gets the opportunity to express that last .01%. It's not that it wants the food/toy/resting place/attention etc., but that it needs these things in order to be granted instinctual permission to let out its last .01%. The dog then gets locked into that addictive load/overload means of energy transfer. So because the Westy is always holding back and is so strong in its personality (note the front paws pumping action), I use the food to bring that energy to the surface and get it channeled into biting the rope toy, which simultaneously softens the guarding of resource trigger. In this video I begin by triggering the Westy. On his own he can't solve dog near his food bowl when he's really hungry. But he can solve me by barking and biting what I want him to bite. So he's learning that there is something more intense than another dog, i.e. me and the rope toy. And then I use the processing dynamic of barking, and go back and forth between the bite toy, the bark, contacting, etc in order to smooth out the intense overwhelming spike of dog near food bowl that historically has swamped his emotional capacity.  The dog is learning to process the charge into a want, in other words, this intense rate of change and compression renders more and more energy and this feels good. We want a dog to learn that compression does not mean collapse, it means more energy. The number one want is energy and a dog recognizes new energy by old energy (unresolved emotion) becoming resolved emotion.

(Notice that Cousy can immediately sense that he's holding that last bit back and she doesn't want to stick her wet nose into that hot socket. But fortunately we can count on a lab's hunger to override survival.)
Published September 11, 2011 by Kevin Behan
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14 responses to “Cousy Getting Under The Charge”

  1. Christine says:

    I can more easily relate this to Diva and Duncan’s guarding behaviors now as well as resource guarding in general. Hopefully I’ll be able to hang onto it for a little while! lol

  2. Christine says:

    Quick question: what’s the significance of a sneeze? Not the allergy-kind-of-sneeze. For example: a dog is guarding a bit of food or a bone. It’s doing a lip-curl, threat display of teeth. He is also frequently sneezing. I know this can be read as an expression of energy; the dog is releasing energy instead of holding it in (I assume it would be similar to a bark in this context). There’s a question in here somewhere but I can’t quite formulate it. The dog-guarding-the-bone is feeling pressure as the object-of-attention…and from here it all gets fuzzy. Can you help me pick the thread out , please?

  3. Christine says:

    Don’t mean to be a blog hog, but hoping you would assess my assessment:

    “My take on Malik’s sneezing is this: a sneeze (when it’s not related to an allergy) is an expression of energy so it’s a good thing because when a wolf (or a dog for that matter) is moving its energy rather than trying to hold it in, then it’s safe energy (energy that moves is safe, energy that is being held back is always dangerous). Malik is feeling pressure from Shadow (and you know how intense Shadow is) and so the sneeze gives him a way to express fear without having to act on fear. That makes Shadow feel safe because energy that’s moving is safe so then you don’t get the more intense displays of “dominance” from Shadow towards Malik as Shadow is ‘softened’ by Malik’s sneeze.”

    Am I in the ball park? Where would I need any tweaking in this assessment of what’s really going on? I welcome your input (in case you care to share, that is).

  4. kbehan says:

    That’s very good and incisive and now we have to sharpen it in terms of a model so it’s easy for you to repeat and see from all angles. I hope I haven’t thrown too much into the stew below.
    Let me begin by saying that advanced, complex social behaviors, transpires along the exact same foundation as the bio-mechanics of locomotion. The two are synonymous in the sense that the more complex elaborates on this simple platform. There is some compelling science that I will bring to the discussion later that substantiates this assertion.
    But at any rate, yes Malik is trying to move energy out of his system as a way to offset the building sense of compression from being object of attention and the sneezing does this in a constrained way. But the question remains, why a sneeze and why is it a constrained means of moving energy?
    A dog’s mind on the most fundamental level, is composed by the two beams of attention, external focal gaze on object, plus a subliminal focus on physical center of gravity. This is how a dog’s body/mind computes how to go from point A to point B. If you throw an object for a dog, he is attracted to it with the intensity of its acceleration. He would like to be running after it at full speed in order to feel whole in terms of this degree of acceleration. By running his body is generating a motion that is smoothly handling that powerful force of acceleration. When the object was thrown, the dog projects its physical center of gravity into the object and then moves its body in conformance with this movement, thus he wants to be moving fast. With every footfall, he pushes off the ground with a force equal to the resistance inherent in the gap between him and bringing the object to ground, i.e. in its jaws. He’s pushing off against the ground by focusing subliminal attention on his physical center-of-gravity and then putting a high degree of emotional force onto that part of his body that in that precise instant is housing the physical center-of-gravity. As he leaves the ground to seize the object, and this is especially critical if the object is going to offer resistance, as for example when owner plays tug of war with an object held in his hand, he feels as if (through physical memory and Pavlovian imprinting) that his physical center of gravity is moving through his body and taking up position in his jaws. If the dog was taking down a stag, he would start pulling against the hide in his mouth and this would knock the stag down and tear off a piece of flesh and then as dog ate his kill, the preyful essence would be moving down that same subliminal track and hitting the gut which would represent emotional terminus for the whole interaction. So in the hunt, the emotional center-of-gravity ultimately rejoins the physical center-of-gravity deep in the dog’s gut. So that’s energy working in pure motion through the mechanics of motion and the mechanics of emotion.
    Meanwhile, with Shadow and Malik, Shadow triggers physical memory and Malik involuntarily projects his emotional center-of-gravity into his being. But Malik doesn’t feel free to be in pure motion, he’s holding back. He feels as if his p-cog is in his jaws, but he just can’t open up and let it out, because he feels too vulnerable given the intense resistance that Shadow is manifesting. Therefore he is pushing energy via his subliminal beam of attention on the p-cog in the very tip of his snout, and thus he sneezes. He’s pushing against his snout in order to push against the pressure of Shadow. This is also why dogs growl and bristle. They are focusing their subliminal beam on their muzzle and then pushing energy against it, just as if they are pushing against something they sense pushing in on them.
    The sneeze lets out a little energy that keeps him below the threshold for action, so it’s effective in that way. However, were he able to let out the bark, a deep, clear, metered bark, because that involves the same bio-mechanic circuitry as running at full speed, then he would be far more processing the pressure and greatly reducing the problem of input exceeding output which has produced the sneeze.

  5. Christine says:

    “…So one man’s face sharpens the face of another.” Proverbs 27:17

    The mind-picture I get is a circle, an oblong circle, in the running, biting, ingesting. Is this what you refer to as Temperament?

    Also, in this statement: “…advanced, complex social behaviors, transpires along the exact same foundation as the bio-mechanics of locomotion. The two are synonymous in the sense that the more complex elaborates on this simple platform.”…I see two tectonic plates, one moving a top the other, sliding back and forth. Is this an accurate representation of what you mean?

    And no thinking required. A marvelous ‘feet’ of engineering indeed! This is all very good, very good indeed. I’ll need to cogitate and masticate on this for a bit but it’s all coming together now. A tasty stew you’ve thrown together, mighty tasty! ♥

  6. kbehan says:

    Thanks for your appreciation Christine. Yes Temperament is a circle so that energy can reflect back on itself defining polarities in the environment so that energy can move and more energy can be made. All animal behavior fits within this continuum. By locomotion I mean the very anatomical principles by which the physical body moves. The symmetrical alignment around the physical center of gravity that can then transmit motor power into forward motion, is the template for all advanced emotional experiences, which is why we say we feel “moved” when we read a book we can “really sink our teeth into.” Even though reading a book is a rarified intellectual activity, nonetheless the emotional experience we have is ordered by our temperament into a circle (narrative arc) and with polarities, (character personality development and story line tension) so that energy can move in our perception of what we’re reading and we thereby relive the physical memories of physical motion that were imprinted during our infancy via Pavlovian conditioning when we were mastering the mechanics of locomotion towards things we hungered for or wanted to avoid.

  7. christine randolph says:

    so if a dog is food aggressive it needs to be redirected ? My big dog bit another dog on the bridge of the nose the other day over food. after my big dog bit the other one on the nose (i could see 2 puncture marks like from a vampire) he was more respectful and let the other dog eat some of the food….

    My 2 females had a huge squabble over food neither of them could reach (food was inside a crate that was closed with no dogs in it) the smaller dog attacked the bigger dog’s back end then the bigger dog pinned the smaller one down.
    bigger females was super upset for hours afterwards. a bit of limping (pretend ?). little other one was acting normal.

    larger female pinned down the cat over food but no injuries….

    what are the chances that this behaviour will escalate if i do not practice the redirect ? the dogs are 5 yo female , 4 yo female and 4 yo male.

  8. kbehan says:

    The chances are high because these static overloading incidents is how they are getting their stuck charge out of their systems and after the overload they begin to charge back up and this then can beget an addictive cycle which can then generalize onto other objects as well. Don’t want to redirect, want to get the stuck energy “grounded.” The worst place to deal with the problem is when the dog is having a problem. Teach the dog how to cope with stress when it is having success, i.e. biting.

  9. christine randolph says:

    makes sense. i will try to reenact the scenario where the food is visible smellabe but inaccessible and reward toy biting. gut ?

  10. christine randolph says:

    oh heck now he killed a racoon, is that “escalating”? or is that just a separate bracket of behaviour because he has coon blood in his ancestry ?

  11. Skip Skipper says:

    “The worst place to deal with the problem is when the dog is having a problem.” In regards to fence fighting my understanding is that I need to get that fear up to the surface (by having him fence fight) and then soften it with pushing and tug. Also thinking that fear can only get out the way it came in. Am I on the right track?

  12. kbehan says:

    Yes, the fence fighting triggers the pain memories that the dog is trying to hold back, but is nonetheless always vibrating and causing its personality spectrum, the endpoint being aggression toward another dog. So in this state the dog isn’t a pure flow system because DIS (the deepest layer of stress) never gets resolved. So when you get the pain/fear to the surface with the fence fighting and absorb it with the bark and the push, and then channel it into a tug toy, you are changing it from fear to Drive. And when the dog begins to express strong Drive to the toy, this is then when he should be “corrected.” This is actually the tactile physical input that the dog craves and which pulls him to other dogs for fighting, and it’s another kind of trigger in its own right that runs all the way down to DIS, the deepest level, and so you’re “correcting” the dog when he’s doing it correctly, i.e. channeling fear and then DIS into the tug toy. Therefore, later when you’re in a real situation on the street and your dog may be at the lower end of its capacity, and you need to correct the dog for getting into state toward another dog (path of least resistance), he is reminded of the tug toy and of investing all his energy in that direction (to you, the path of highest resistance), and by channeling DIS out of the equation, he will by definition feel soft toward the dog. The correction is an intense physical tactile input that the dog craves, which is why he is a fighter, but now he’s getting it from you and he’s also being reminded by way of the sharp physical input as to where DIS really belongs, i.e. focused on the bite toy animated by his owner. Hope this is clear.
    (I should have added that correcting a dog when it is doing it incorrectly, i.e. when it is becoming aggressive, is in fact channeling even more tactile sensation into the other dog as the emotional ground, and is therefore actually reinforcing the tendency, even if the dog is overpowered and has to give up for the time being.)

  13. christopher says:

    Kevin writes ” And when the dog begins to express strong Drive to the toy, this is then when he should be “corrected.” I’m not exactly sure on the correction part. When the dog is channeled into the bite toy you command with an “OUT” or shock to have him cease activity? So then the result of this excercise could be when walking a dog , and comming accross something that could load him up, the handler could command out or leave it and success would be had because the dog was corrected when channeling drive towards the tug toy and not the dog from the fence.?

  14. kbehan says:

    My premise is that a dog should first experience a correction, i.e. a crisp but not particularly jarring jerk on the collar, when he is doing the exercise correctly. I begin this with food and then progress to the dog’s ultimate bite toy. It’s straightforward Pavlovian reasoning. The correction should have no moral component to it whatsoever as in stopping the dog from doing something wrong. A correction should not even be viewed as an aversive, it is to be integrated into the dog’s experience of Drive, an intense sensation that is nonetheless blended into a smooth wave function. Then there is the politically correct school of positive training that says there is no place for corrections in learning. But again they are thinking, incorrectly, of corrections as an aversive. A correction properly developed and performed returns a dog to its body, this being due to its intensity, and now the physical memories of flow with the affiliated motor patterns to execute a particular response, become available to it. The dog is energized by such a correction and doesn’t perceive it as something bad, but as a heightening of a positive experience. Then later in the real world, a dog might be pulled in another direction, especially if there is a history of intensity to prey animals, or dogs on horizon, etc, and a correction puts it back in its body and reminds it of all the flow memories centered around its handler. Meanwhile the handler is praising the dog even during the correction because of all of the above and to heighten the association of the correction as affiliated with a heightening of energy. Finally, the word “out” can remind the dog of all of the above and in and of itself puts the dog back in its body.

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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.