Dogs and Cats Playing Tug

Of the millions of cats in America, a few indulge in a kind of tug-of-war with their owners, and if one does a survey of the video record on the internet one can find such offerings. These are excellent examples of comparative behavior between cats and dogs as a means of understanding the phenomenon of Temperament and as an excellent visual representation of prey instinct (cats) versus prey drive (dogs). It also disproves behaviorism’s argument that behavior is a function of genes, instincts and learning according to reinforcements because there should be just as many cats playing tug as dogs, and with the same intensity and vigor. Cats have the same reflex to chase, bite, grab, tug and shake a prey-like acting object, cats can get just as hungry as dogs, and yet they can’t manifest the same volume of ENERGY in such an engagement with a human being so that the behavior can elaborate into a more sophisticated expression of DRIVE and which unites dog and owner into one “emotional body.” My point is that through Temperament, the dog enters a state of emotional suspension and thus, the vigor of the owner ends up triggering and releasing the unresolved emotion in the dog so that there is more energy in the equation than the dog could otherwise realize. The dog’s stress runs through Temperament as enabled by dog and owner being in a state of synchronization, so that it becomes INFORMATION (an emotional bond) rather than overloading the dog as it will quickly do in the cat. So the significant difference between dogs and cats is their emotional capacity, not their genes, fixed action patterns or the current definition of prey drive as in the urge to seize that which is moving, and/or to satisfy a state of hunger. There actually isn’t a prey drive per se, there is only the Drive To Make Contact, and since pure emotion is only attracted to a preyful aspect (pure unformed essence, i.e. energy) it looks like there is a prey drive, but more accurately that’s only because energy always runs to “ground,” i.e. by moving toward a preyful aspect.

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Published November 2, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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7 responses to “Dogs and Cats Playing Tug”

  1. Very nicely done.

    It’s interesting that there’s also very little variance in cat morphology as compared to dogs, where the differences in breed types and sizes, etc., is unparalleled.


  2. kbehan says:

    Right, the phenomenon of play is about “flipping polarities” for the purpose of syncing up in order to make new energy (turn unresolved emotion into resolved emotion by focusing collective energies onto common object of resistance). So this poly-emotional morphism, I believe is the template on which the genes and physical morphology is based and hence the diversity of body types in dogs unlike cats.

  3. Heather says:

    Not sure if this cat would agree that it lacks emotional capacity:

  4. kbehan says:

    I stand corrected.

  5. john says:

    how do big cats fare out in this debate, a pride of lions for example, pack hunters who take on bigger prey than themselves,live in the family unit like wolves, not solitary like the common moggie,any thought,,,thanks

  6. kbehan says:

    Great question, it’s a question Lee got into on his Psyche Today blog several articles ago, and there was a spirited discussion about it. For me the discussion ended far too early and so I’ve been working on an article to more completely develop my view of the matter, which involves the notion of “emotional capacity.” So that will be coming soon.

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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.
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