First Note On Natural Dog Training Conference in Indiana

There’s much I have to say about my experiences at the first annual Natural Dog Training Conference in Battleground, Indiana but first THANK YOU.

THANK YOU to Dr. Jean Marie Thompson for putting the idea and the event together. THANK YOU to the entire Indiana Indiana K-9 Assisted Crisis Response team (Scott, Tim, Carol, Angie, Father Bert, Jill, Steve et. al) for the sheer logistics of getting us all from one place to another, and with all the stuff we needed. THANK YOU to the participants who were willing to get in a plane or car and travel great distances to hear what I have to say and see how I work with dogs. I really felt received and able to communicate (it takes two to ping/pong) because folks were not only open, but able to “resist” as necessary with incisive questions in order to improve the flow. An added bonus was that the various venues, most especially Prophets Town, encompassed the land of Tecumseh. It was an amazing experience to walk deep into the primordial Prairie grass and imagine the life of the native Americans who used to live here just a few centuries earlier. At the battlefield of Tippecanoe there were great oaks still standing that would have been saplings on that fateful day three hundred years earlier. We were truly walking on sacred ground and I do believe that the feeling for the land embodied in the ways of the Shawnee has not been lost and still lives on in our own personal reverence for nature.

Finally, on the last day I went on a deployment where several members of the team (Jill, Father Bert, Dr. Jean-Marie) visited the Indiana State Veterans Home. Watching the team move from room to room, waiting for a look, smile or word that a veteran or caregiver was receptive to their dog’s entreaty, I received a first hand look at the incredible good work that the Indiana K-9 Assisted Crisis Response Team does and the selfless dedication of the team members as well as the local Elks chapter that was putting on a big picnic for the veterans that day, and of course the many nurses and support staff who make the veterans feel that they are at home. These veterans made our freedom possible and to witness the utter devotion of so many people to their well being was profoundly moving. There’s nothing like seeing a veteran’s face light up when a dog comes his or her way, an interaction that immediately rekindles long ago memories of the dogs that they’ve had and held. One man told me that he buried his dog with its head cradled on a pillow and with its body wrapped in a blanket. Every day thereafter he visited his dog’s grave to pour his heart out. These men weren’t eager to talk about their military experiences in Vietnam or Korea, but they had a lot to say about the dogs they’ve known and loved. I felt a lot of Heart in Indiana; from the Von Liche Kennels to the vast acreage of corn as high as the proverbial elephant’s eye, to how volunteers pitch in to preserve the local history at the Wabash/Erie canal museum, and most especially to the seminar participants who journeyed from all over the country and the world and who allowed me to share my heart with them on the nature of dogs. Thank you.


Want to Learn More about Natural Dog Training?

Join the exclusive and interactive group that will allow you to ask questions and take part in discussions with the founder of the Natural Dog Training method, Kevin Behan.

Join over 65 Natural Dog trainers and owners, discussing hundreds of dog training topics with photos and videos!

We will cover such topics as natural puppy rearing, and how to properly develop your dog's drive and use it to create an emotional bond and achieve obedience as a result.

Create Your Account Today!

Published August 29, 2013 by Kevin Behan
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

13 responses to “First Note On Natural Dog Training Conference in Indiana”

  1. sweet says:

    Thank you Kevin! It was so great to see you working with so many dogs and be able to ask you my many specific questions about my dogs (who weren’t there). And it was wonderful to spend a weekend with a group of people who are as interested as I am in Natural dog training. I’ve been busy trying to put new techniques into practice ever since I’ve been home — to good effect, too

  2. John says:

    Yeah I’ll second that , great to see everyone coming at ndt from their own angle , from problems with their pets to the understanding of why dogs behave as they do,
    What interested me was how the approach changes from dog to dog depend on where they are on chart from highly active to avoidance , some dogs just needing a little coaxing whereas other will be a long drawn out operation

    Another aspect which I found most heartwarming was how the collective audience embraced each and every small utterance of flow from a reluctant sneeze to a coaxed bark, it showed me that the group understood the principles shown and througout the weekend the practical application of training followed,

    Well done to all involved,

  3. I didn’t know about this and maybe can attend next year. I’m not far, just over here in Ohio. Sound like it was awesome!

  4. b... says:


    At the conference you mentioned that instances of “resource guarding” can be used to work out DIS. I was wondering if you might elaborate on the method.

    I’ve got a bully stick “guarder” who will sometimes snarl and snap if you try to take it away before he’s done. Not sure how to interpret it because it’s only some bully sticks and he doesn’t do it with any other object or food. It’s the only time you’re ever in danger of being really bitten. He can be distracted enough with a stinky treat to remove it, but then starts looking for it again. He first got one at 5 months, and the first time we tried to remove it he reacted, so he never got it again for months. Wondering how the bully stick got so charged.

    On a side note, hand-feeding meals (aside from pushing) seems like a good idea and has been recommended elsewhere as a way to prevent food “guarding”. I don’t recall if it’s been discussed here. Is it recommended for building attraction, as groundwork for pushing, or opening the pipe in general?

  5. kbehan says:

    When a dog “guards” a resource, it’s actually a trigger of unresolved emotion. The dog doesn’t actually care about the resource, rather it’s an opportunity to move energy normally held back. This is why the problem is far more prevalent with inhibited rather than uninhibited dogs. So the cure is to teach the dog to be uninhibited, and in particular, about the resource. Thus bite and carry the object, pushing/barking and rub-a-dubs, being cognizant of the dog’s threshold to overload along the way. The specifics of how the dog acquired the charge doesn’t really matter, and from a theoretical perspective there is no specific cause, it’s just an opportunity to move held back energy.

  6. b... says:

    “Thus bite and carry the object,…”

    the object = the bully stick in this case?
    was wondering mainly about how to incorporate the object into the exercises.

  7. kbehan says:

    Yes, used the charged object to soften the charge so that the dog doesn’t feel attached to it, carrying and pushing it into the handler and then giving it calmly to their hand.

  8. b... says:

    Need a little help relating this to the bite/carry-on-rope/tug/push bite-toy core exercise…

    So there’s no tug here with the “guarded” object? It’s not a direct stand-in for the bite object.  Or at least not until the dog becomes uninhibited enough with the resource object?

    Since the “guarding” is marked by growling/snarling when the handler moves toward the dog, do we need to progress much slower than we would with a bite toy in order to avoid growling altogether?  Or are we smoothing out the growl into a quiet carry by getting the dog conductive by getting it to move toward us with the resource in his mouth?

    Separately, this made me wonder, with a dog that doesn’t readily go for food/toy around distractions, but loves bully sticks, could we use that to get the bite and push when faced with a strong trigger/distraction instead?

  9. kbehan says:

    Yes one can used a charged object, the bully stick, and then using the locomotion principle, smooth it out via the carrying and then this evolves into push of war and then giving the object willingly to the handler. The charged object equals a blocked attraction, the locomotor sequence (running) removes the sensations (in the head) that constitute a block, turns these sensations into a smooth wave function. The attraction can now manifest cleanly, no charge.

  10. b... says:

    trying to tie things together here for a complete picture… (last paragraph):

    This method for overcoming growling over stick (“resource”?) in crate — is it applicable to the bully stick “guarding”?

    My understanding there is that you encourage the dog to be in sync with you via praise, then offer cookie to open up the connection, then get him focused on the stick again (dog is growling again?), repeat praise > cookie (or push for cookie), until he softens enough that you can reach past stick for rub-a-dub + cookie. You say that you are encouraging the dog to give you his fear. So does the extinction of the growl indicate extinction of the fear, or is it that now he’s conductive and is channeling that fear into pushing and will continue to do so rather than growling over something else?

    Can we employ a similar method for the bully stick? And should we incorporate the {carry resource towards handler} – {push into handler} – {release} method described here after some rounds of this {praise} > {release resource for cookie/push} softening, to be followed by {rub-a-dub}? Seems like the praise-softening work might be good preliminary for getting the carry, but maybe I’m confusing objectives of the two.

  11. kbehan says:

    In regards to crate, best to avoid problem for time being and to elicit full core behaviors in the training. Praise attracts the dog’s fear to handler, carrying aligns the dog to handler, giving it to hand puts dog in sync with handler, thus fear has been turned into a pure desire. (all fear results from a collapse of attraction, all attraction is rooted in a desire, all desire is modulated by hunger circuitry.) Eventually, dog can be given stick in crate, carry it in and out and jump up and give to handler. Same with bully stick. Elimination of the growl means dog has given you his fear and you have softened it, i.e. turned it into smooth wave action via peristaltic action of the stomach/intestines digesting the food.

  12. b... says:

    Ah, terrific reminder that fear stems from desire and can be reverted back to such, hence reason for eliciting it and why we shouldn’t ourselves fear its expression.

    No crate in my case, was just wondering about the insertion of praise into the bully stick problem. Was trying to picture, per the method above, how we go from:
    A) dog is chewing on bully stick and growling at handler’s approach
    B) dog is carrying bully stick towards handler

  13. kbehan says:

    Attract the dog’s fear when it growls by using praise. Move away and have bully stick on long line, play a little tug, encourage dog to carry bully stick and follow you around, and then jump up and make contact with bully stick in mouth. all the while soft praise and gentle touch if dog can take it.

Leave a Reply

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.
%d bloggers like this: