Final Post Of 2009

I want to finish up on some points made by Christine Randolph but most of all on the occasion of this New Year, thank everyone for their participation, their comments, helping to flesh out the model with questions and points as well as offering critical analysis in the spirit of inquiry. I’m greatly looking forward to the New Year. My book will be coming out in the fall and I believe it can become a manifesto for a new paradigm in regards to dogs and behavior. We have only begun to skim the surface and the greater the community that can grow around the concept of behavior as a function of energy, the more we are all going to learn from the greatest animal on the face of the earth, the dog by our side. Thank you all.

CR: I found this (entertaining?) quote on the internet , by a guy called Mark Pettinelli..

Emotion Is a Combination of Feeling and Thought
“By a combination of feeling and thought I mean a combination of what it feels like to have a thought, with the feeling of what it feels like to have a feeling – I don’t mean the combination of actual verbal thoughts with feelings, but non-verbal thoughts which are like verbal thoughts in that they are about something, you just can’t identify what it is all the time because it is non-verbal”

KB: Emotion cannot possibly be a thought because it’s an immediate moment phenomenon. Thoughts in my model might be classified as verbal, they certainly wouldn’t be images, in other words I believe animals can hold images in mind and that this mental activity doesn’t require a capacity for thought. But my definition of a thought is the capacity to compare one moment with another moment, or one point of view with another point of view; these are actually the same thing. It seems to me that every abstract concept falls into this model. For example, it’s inaccurate to say a person or an animal “feels threatened,” because the concept of a threat is predicated on a series of moments that lead to a consequence, with the observer able to compare point A to B, C, D and so on all the way to the final and unfortunate moment Z. A person could think that they are threatened, but to say feeling threatened which is coupling the immediate-moment energy of emotion/feeling to a thought is actually an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. So you can think about a feeling, and thoughts can become habituated and associated with feelings, but the two aren’t the same. For example, one can think about love, but one can’t think love. You either feel it or you don’t.
One could say quite accurately on the other hand that an animal feels compressed, or displaced, or pulled or pushed, or heavy or light, weightless, or outright falling, because these are how we feel states of energy, as for example when we try to hold the north poles of two magnets together, or when we project ourselves emotionally into basketball players running up and down the court, and in particular listening to compelling music and we feel the falls and rises, the weightlessness and even compression.

CR: Or how about this one from

“Scientists now know through the use of experiments and clinical observation that thoughts, feelings, and perceptions coexist as a unified whole and cannot be easily teased apart.”

KB: Once we understand behavior as a function of attraction, it becomes possible to parse it all apart. Emotion is release from a whole body tension. Feelings originate in the heart and are apprehended as a state of suspension. They are characterized by welling up of energy and are easily deflected into states of alignment and their most notable feature is that this happens without a loss of emotional momentum. Feelings leave the individual energized even without the realization of something material. Instincts begin with a collapse (anger and guilt are not true feelings and are attached to an instinct, and then an infinite series of reverberating thoughts) and are characterized by a state of relief and are enervating. An instinct can be interrupted but not deflected. Instincts leave the animal drained unless they realize material energy. Finally, thoughts are relative by which they reflexively compare one thing to another. Thoughts and instincts center one’s consciousness in the head. Feelings center one’s consciousness in the heart.

CR: hm so what about doing this emotion is a consequence of thought- thing, where we say we have to stay Positive in our thinking, otherwise, the emotions will be tainted and we get all tedious and depressed.

i.e. if you feel sad and frustrated about not being able to go to California, it is best not to think about it. but think about the stuff you CAN do…

KB: I’m no guru, but I do know from a study of dogs and energy that there’s no such thing as a negative emotion or a bad feeling. So if one is experiencing what one thinks is a negative emotion or a bad feeling, I suggest not trying to be positive, rather, try to stay present with the emotion and feeling until they can find the thought attached to the fear (btw, fear is not an emotion, it’s the collapse of a state of attraction) that is making the experience seem negative and bad. A good starting point, whatever one is angry at or being made guilty by, is that underneath it all is a state of attraction. But then there is a fear of collapse associated with this, and then instincts and thoughts kick in as a protective device, and then this amalgam takes on a life of its own and will have undoubtedly built up a charge over the course of a lifetime. But once the attraction and the fear is articulated and out in the open, the thoughts and judgments lose their grip and your heart will feel free and sooner or later your own emotional genius will tell you what to do.
We can learn from dogs how to become our own expert. Learning to trust in the nature of a dog is simultaneously learning to trust in the truth of one’s heart. No one knows better than your heart what’s good for you. I’m not saying one shouldn’t seek counsel and leave stones unturned, rather, take it all in, turn over every stone and then only accept what’s feels right. Dogs are here to teach us how to learn the distinction between emotion and instinct, and between thoughts and feelings.

CR also, if an owner keeps thinking about all the bad stuff a dog has done and might do, the dog will perhaps pick up on that vibe, and do exactly what the owner is projecting. visualizing in his anxiety, anger, whatever negative emotion the owner might have about the stuff the dog is doing wrong for him….but if the owner is completely positive emotionally about the dog’s behaviour, the dog will, potentially, feel that kind of a spin coming off the owner and have a better success ratio in training,

KB: The dog doesn’t go by what we think or even what we do, the dog goes by what we feel and since feelings arise from the emotional battery over which we have no control and almost no awareness, while our brilliant minds can easily hide the truth of our feelings not only from others but even from our own awareness, we can never fool or trick our dog. So I tell owners to not waste energy trying to be positive when they aren’t feeling positive. As long as you’re clear about what you’re feeling, then the dog doesn’t have to bring it to your attention with a “problem.”

Happy New Year and “Keep On Pushing.”

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Published December 31, 2009 by Kevin Behan

3 responses to “Final Post Of 2009”

  1. christine randolph says:

    Kevinm thanks for this new post so we have a “new” discussion

    Images, I think that is an important key to dog behaviour if it is true.. what kind of images do you think dogs can hold in their consciousness, and how do they fit into the chain of attraction, collapse thereof, etc..

    if we “rehearse” certain responses to stimuli with our dogs, i.e. mom gets tense on the leash because she sees another dog, dog gets aggressive, but when rehearsing in the back yard, the dog can be trained to seek eye contact to momma tensing on the leash, instead of focussing aggression on the other dog…

    would that be OK in order to get them away from red zone behaviour (my dogs do not have red zone but I guess those behaviours seem to be the ones that requires the most work by the handler to integrate our dogs smoothly into our lives..hence CMs focus on them I guess)
    will that change the emotion, or are we just “intimidating” them so they give up temporarily, but when the emotional battery is full, there is no avoiding red zone ?

    so there is fear of collapse (in dogs?) and also fear as a result of collapse of attraction ? does aggression in dogs (biting etc, the stuff that makes them red zone) come about as a result of this fear ? or is it more of a Fixed Action Pattern, (fight.flight, procreation, etc.) as described by Jean Donaldson, apparently not as predictably ascribable to dogs as to species that have continuously lived in the wild.

    do you even believe in the existence of FIxed Action Patterns in dogs, or is it just that it looks similar to other species’ FAPs and is basically not the same?

    Which study of dogs and energy are you referring to that shows how dogs cannot experience negative emotions?

    Alistair Scott writes about his dog’s accidental pregnancy, (Tracks Through Alaska). he had to take her puppies away. as a result, she clearly is not her usual perky self, so one could say “depressed”.

    what about dogs who do not eat for long periods, and are not perky, responsive to the stimuli they usually respond to, when they lose a doggie house mate or human companion.

  2. Christine says:

    Thank you Kevin for all your wonderful insights into dog and human emotions and all that is attached. I thought I’d share this website with everyone as I feel it fits in nicely with NDT philosophy:
    Disabled or “unadoptable animals” are welcomed here when they have run out of options. What I found so insightful was a comment made by the couple who own/operate this facility: these animals don’t know they are disabled; they are happy with who they are as they are. They don’t feel bad or guilty about their “problems”. Even those animals who had been horribly abused are loving and affection towards their human caregivers. So, yes, there is much we can learn from the animal kingdom and from dogs especially. They have the ability to “know” when something feels right and to just accept it; period. No analyzing or rehashing past abuses/injuries. No thinking required.
    I admire this couple for their ability to accept and love these animals “as is”; without any prerequisites and no strings attached. There is much that is good to be learned (felt) here.

  3. christine randolph says:

    I think we should go to this here topic and post about “what dogs are thinking, continued”. makes it easier to get to the new posts.

    btw, it is interesting to muse about what dogs might or might not be thinking, but what about dogs DREAMING ? any of you ever come up with a theory ?

    Freddie The Sled Dog makes funny yelps in his sleep, moves around, has episodes of fast breathing where he blows his cheeks up etc.

    i am sooo curious to know what he might be dreaming about…this is why I am cool with the dogs sleeping on my bed (if they want to, my border collie does NOT) so I can see it when they dream, it is TOO CUTE.

    btw about being spiritual, I used to be into that, but, it did not REALLY teach me who i am. It helped getting away from what I did NOT want to be…

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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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