How I Developed The "Pushing Technique"

In the early eighties I found myself describing certain behaviors as “electric,” as for example when a dog is defensive, fearful or hyper, bristling, tense, taut and touchy, while other behaviors I intuitively would call “magnetic,” as for example when a dog is rolling on the ground, body contacting with others, supple to the touch, or resting contentedly by hearthside. I quickly realized that electric behaviors were equivalent to a building electrostatic charge, like a thunderhead looming over a hot open plain. Sooner or later sparks were going to fly. “Problem behaviors” are electric because the dog is attempting to get this emotional charge out of its system and is in essence “blaming” the object of its attraction for its internal dilemma.

In contrast, calm behaviors were always cooperative in nature and appropriate to the context the dog was in. The run of this gamut was especially vivid in the police dogs I trained. The better they bit the sleeve, the harder they fought the criminal, the gentler they were with children, the more they loved contact with strangers and were easy to kennel in down time. Therefore if I could learn how to change a dog’s emotional state from electric to magnetic, which should be possible because in nature electromagnetism is but one phenomenon, then I could turn a “problem” behavior into an appropriate or “drive” behavior.

For this reason I realized that the fundamental problem for a dog was to “make contact” with whatever it was attracted to, because once it is emotionally grounded into this object of attraction, its emotional juices as a virtual electrical energy could flow. And in basic physics when electrical energy flows this then induces a magnetic field, and this virtual emotional magnetic field was now something the dog could socially navigate. In other words, animal magnetism didn’t stop evolving with the ability of geese to fly north or south, or salmon returning to their natal waters, it continued to evolve into social behavior. Perhaps this is why every mammal, even if it has no migratory cycle in its evolution, nonetheless has a tiny crystal of magnetite in its inner ear canal.

So when a dog feels grounded it becomes magnetically and therefore emotionally, aligned with the object of its attraction because it can feel which way points north. So I developed the jumping-up-to-make-contact technique so that a dog felt connected to its handler.

Meanwhile Operant Conditioning was hitting the marketplace and I found myself strongly resisting what it had to say since I couldn’t abide by the notion of nature as a random scattering of variables that an animal randomly makes sense of through a schedule of reinforcements. Knowing that nature and emotion were mirror templates to each other, I dug in my heels and didn’t want to use food, or perhaps only sparingly because I did make the exception with dogs that were fearful or too sensitive to want to make contact with me.

My guiding principle was that the prey instinct was the conduit for all emotion and it existed in service to the one drive, the Drive-To-Make-Contact. The prey instinct is the main pipe by which emotion moves (this is true of humans as well) and this movement is a matter of emotion as a virtual problem in electrical conductivity. A predator acquires an intense electrostatic charge, and then the prey absorbs it. However, this can simultaneously induce a virtual magnetic field so that if the prey resists being made prey on; then the predatory impulse in the predator evolves into a whole body state of sensuality, in other words, animal magnetism. Energized in this way, a dog is simultaneously informed as to how to make social contact with the object of its attraction. I wrote “Natural Dog Training” featuring the Drive-To-Make-Contact in service to the prey instinct as its overarching principle.

I have learned nothing in the meantime that contradicts that premise, however one day in the mid-nineties my understanding of animal electromagnetism made a significant improvement. I had trained a particular dog by inducing physical contact and he learned to heel, down, stay and recall and looked pretty good doing so. He became “light on the leash,” stopped jumping up on people and would settle himself when nothing was going on. Then while he was in a down/stay on the training field, I secured a particularly active dog to a post so that this dog was twenty feet or so off the path my dog in training would have to take to get to me when I called it on command.

When I called the dog, he instantly leapt into a full dead-out run, but even though he wasn’t even looking at the other dog, he couldn’t resist arcing towards him. While he was still looking and coming straight at me, there was this growing bow in the trajectory of his path. It was just as if he was a satellite almost being captured by the gravitational pull of a planet, or more precisely, a steel projectile being influenced by a powerful magnetic field it was trying to pass through. The dog never actually made contact with the distracting dog since his “emotional velocity” to get to me remained intense, but his drive was clearly bent.

It wasn’t that I had never seen such a deflection of behavior before, but what struck me now was the involuntary nature of what was happening to him. He was trying to come to his name, but it was as if he had to fight through this invisible field of energy that surrounded the other dog. And if I had a way to measure it in terms of the dog’s perceptions, I know the strength of the field would be inversely proportional to the distance from the source, just like a real magnetic field.

From this observation, I next realized that while I had built up an enormous electric charge between me and the dog, nevertheless my “magnetic field” must not be as strong as the other dog’s, which made total sense to me since I am an upright human being with a predominant predatory aspect, as opposed to a more prey-like animal such as a four-legged bouncing, barking dog. The training dog would play with me, but I had to concede now that he really wasn’t “making-prey” with me as a police dog in training would be.

So I finally began to turn to food in earnest because hunger is the only way available to us by which we can turn electricity, which is generated by the neurological circuits dedicated to the sense of balance, into magnetism, which is generated by the neurological circuits dedicated to the sense of hunger. (This is why working with prey objects was so powerful because obviously the prey instinct/drive is the confluence of the balance and hunger circuitry into one composite value. Thus the predator can compute the movements of the prey and intercept it.) By focusing exclusively on the hunger circuitry I wouldn’t be simultaneously invoking the balance circuitry and therefore inadvertently reinforcing whatever emotional values had built up in the dog’s mind over the years.

But I want to point out that I still wasn’t using food as a reward. Rather I was trying to increase the dog’s perception of me in a magnetic sense. While at first this distinction might not seem worth making, it ultimately factors out to be of overwhelming significance. I wasn’t using food as a reward because I wasn’t giving it to the dog to encourage him to perform an obedience behavior. I wasn’t after obedience, I was after something else.

During this time I was also giving a lot of thought to what I came to call the “emotional battery.” In other words, the canine mind wasn’t a straightforward electrical switch. It was a circuit capable of regenerating itself and so canine consciousness has a means of internalizing and storing energy so that it is available for later use when in a time of greatest need. For example, it doesn’t do any good to have wind turbines generating energy if there isn’t some means of storing the energy for peak load times or for when the wind isn’t blowing. Therefore the dog’s energy cycles through its emotional battery.

This emotional battery is “formatted” in that it is composed of layers of stress, physical memories of states of attraction that didn’t come to fruition because the resistance encountered was too intense for the individual’s capacity to overcome at that time. Any given layer of stress corresponds to the degree of intensity that caused it to be internalized and stored in the first place. This is the basis of canine memory. (The emotional battery determines its perceptions of things. In other words a dog doesn’t experience the world directly, first its battery is triggered, then it feels, and then it experiences the world, indirectly.)

The most important understanding of the emotional battery is that this latent energy was only triggered and available when that specific and originating degree of intensity was encountered again, but now with this stored reserve available to draw on, the individual could pack a bigger emotional punch and this “new energy” allowed it to make contact with the object-of-resistance. The trigger doesn’t have to be the exact same stimulus, just the exact same degree of intensity.

Of particular interest to me was the deepest layer in the battery that had been caused by the most intense experiences, what I came to call the last .01% because so many of my clients would say to me “99.9% of the time my dog listens to me.” I realized the truth was that when that last .01% was triggered and came to the surface, not only was this behavior likely to be explosive since it had to burst through so many layers of inhibition, but in these instances the dog never ever listens to its owner.

Ultimately, this came to mean that I had to gain access to this last .01% by offering the dog a high degree of resistance in order to trigger the deepest layer in its battery. Once the dog overcomes the resistance I’m offering, he is immediately inspired to align with me, which is in the final analysis is how the emotional battery computes for cooperative behavior in a wolf pack on the hunt, or when a working dog is in drive.

This deepest layer in the battery is like a master valve. And when those oldest, deepest, virtual electrons flow, the dog experiences a whole body state of magnetism and cannot resist the magnetic field it feels toward the object of resistance. So if a dog pushes into me with all its might, I am using hunger to turn stored electricity into an active state of magnetism. In the dog’s mind an object of resistance becomes is new true north.

I developed the pushing technique because in dog training, just making contact isn’t enough. A dog has to make contact with its owner with that last .01%. The truth is that if we don’t have 100% of a dog’s energy, we’re in control of nothing.

Keep On Pushing!

Read more about the Pushing Technique.

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Published June 20, 2009 by Kevin Behan
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76 responses to “How I Developed The "Pushing Technique"”

  1. I loved learning about the genesis of this technique. I especially like the visual image of the dog forming a curve while trying to run straight toward you. It reminds me of how, according to Einstein’s theories, large objects in space can actually bend light waves.

    It also reminds me of one of Turid Rugaas’ “calming signals” (which I prefer to call “stress indicators”), where a dog will come toward its owner indirectly. Her presumption is that the dog is doing this to “calm” the owner. But of course it makes a lot more sense that the dog is simply feeling a combination of attraction and resistance toward the owner instead.


  2. Maria says:

    Pretty cool post. I just came by your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

  3. kbehan says:

    That’s exactly right. Within the dog’s mind, its attraction to its owner is meeting resistance in its perception of its owner, thereby deflecting the dog from a straightforward manner of approach to an indirect one. This is also how wolves “know” how to approach a dangerous prey animal, or anything they are simultaneously attracted to and yet are to some degree unsure of. The dog has no “idea” of calming the object of attraction, it is only aware of what it is feeling within its “self.” It’s just as if its consciousness is an electromagnetically charged particle being deflected by an electrostatic field.

  4. Valerie says:

    At what age should pushing be started? My 7 month old retriever/terrier mix steps to the side or backs up. Is that too soon?

  5. kbehan says:

    Don’t make the exercise too intense for a young dog, but since your dog is acting so tentatively, it’s a good idea to get started now. First, sit down and accustom your dog to coming in close to get the food, and then as you gently massage under its neck and it’s completely comfortable with this, then slowly introduce a little bit of a push back with just enough force that it pushes in for the food. Keep your food hand open as much as necessary so that your dog can perceive its availability. After several sessions of this, graduate to standing upright, and always be moving away. Do not go toward your dog even though you are trying to give it the food. Also make sure that both hands are in a straight line so that it must go through the open hand to get to the food hand. And if you move the food hand around too much, again, your dog may not perceive its availability and will hold back. As long as your dog is taking food, you are not making a mistake. Little by little your technique will get better. Also, you should get Neil Sattin’s video so that you can see visually what you should be doing. Good luck.

  6. Valerie says:

    Thanks Kevin! I’ve fed her by hand a couple times since I read your response. In fact she often won’t eat when I put her food in a bowl on the floor but then will eat the same food out of my hand.

    I sit and feed her and try to just pet her neck and chest, hands/arms mostly in line. I did put a little bit of pressure on her chest when she was really into eating the food. She hasn’t moved as much and picked up one paw a couple of times. That’s a calming signal too, isn’t it? Maybe I need to go even slower?

    I have to admit that I have not read your book yet, (I will be ordering it soon), but I’ve been reading this blog along with Neil’s and Lee’s blogs. I’m a first-time dog owner and some of this seems like magic, but I am interested finding out more and using the methods.

  7. kbehan says:

    It sounds what you’re doing is good so far. I don’t know which dog trainer said the following but it’s good advice, “Go slow, you’ll get there faster.” Also, when a dog picks up a paw, it isn’t a calming signal (although I love that term). The dog isn’t actually trying to signal to you. What it means is that the dog is losing energy from its primary channel, the pure prey drive with energy in its jaws, and so this energy is building up and being displaced elsewhere in the body. In other words, your dog is beginning to feel disconnected because of the resistance she’s experiencing, and is trying to reconnect with you. She’s losing the feeling of flow and is succumbing to a pack instinct wherein balance is paramount. This is also why she eats food from your hand rather than the bowl. So when she becomes a chow hound as she gets over this inhibition, you’ll start to see much more drive in your dog. Good luck.

  8. Huh. I’m curious as to why you like the term “calming signal.” I don’t. First of all it suggests that dogs exhibit these behaviors with the intent to communicate. In fact that’s what Turid Rugaas and others, like Brenda Aloff, who’s written a great book on canine body language (as long as you just look at the photos and don’t read too much of the text).

    And from what I’m able to ascertain, the term comes from the +R idea that dogs aren’t capable of learning anything if they’re not “calm” first. Of course a great deal depends on how you interpret what the word calm really means. But since most people don’t see an energized dog as being calm, and since in my experience dogs usually learn best and quickest and easiest when they are energized, I have less affection for that term than you do.

  9. Sorry. I accidentally left out a word. That should have read “That’s what Turid and others …) believe.

  10. kbehan says:

    Yes Lee you’re completely right that the idea of signaling is about intent and so I don’t agree with that notion of communication at all, but nevertheless it seems to me that the term represents a softening from the dominance/submission paradigm and the mental paradigm in that the term is beginning to suggest the concept of attraction. What I mean is that the so-called calming signals are in reality the dog putting out a “preyful vibration” and it’s doing so because it’s experiencing resistance to its flow, and this then attracts and conducts the observing dogs energy and thereby calms it. So maybe LOVE is too strong a word, but what I LIKE about the term is that I believe it will help the owner begin to see how energy, as an organizing force of attraction, is at work composing a dog’s mind. I’m not aware of the history of the term so perhaps I’m being too charitable but I’m focusing on the calming aspect of the term rather than the signal. Thanks for the insight.

  11. Well, you’re right. It does do something entirely different to the mind of an owner who’s been told to see things in terms of who’s most dominant. It practically flips the idea of dominance over on its back, so to speak, which is a very positive thing.

    I tend to call them “stress indicators,” which I think is more accurate but it’s also kind of clunky, and has less of an ability to turn people’s minds around. After reading your explanation for why you like “calming signals,” I may just go back to calling them that. I suppose that once I’ve got my foot in the door on dominance I can always work on the idea of “intent” later on.


  12. Suma says:

    based on my discussions with Kevin and Lee I started using this pushing technique with my two dogs – Minni is the problem child and she is right now on prozac – i had to do lot more work with her even to get her to push a little bit. now she is better, she follows me slowly and eats from my hand and pushes some. the other guy, Micky is a pusher – he bounces and runs around chasing me and pushing as hard as he could. both of them are reactive to other dogs so I am interested in seeing how this will help – thanks for all the great advise guys

  13. Suma says:

    but i have to mention to you that i was not able to interest them in tug of war at all – not sure how to do this – Mickey was never interested in toys or games of any sort except the “find it” game with food – i am kind of lost here

  14. kbehan says:

    The purpose of the pushing is for the dogs to become more comfortable with giving you their energy. As they gain in confidence, and trust, they will be willing to expose their deepest energy, over which they feel the most vulnerable, i.e. their prey drive, to you. They will begin to act in a more liberated, animated way around you and then the toy will all of a sudden become of interest. At the moment, they only expose their prey drive to each other with play fighting/wrestling/chasing games and this is how their energies have become channeled with you being tuned out of that connection. So think of the pushing as lubricating a skid so that this more latent compressed energy can move along this track toward you, given that a human being is always the path of highest resistance. It can take many weeks before you have a breakthrough so don’t be in a hurry, and you should only work with one at a time until the juices really get imprinted on you. Good luck

  15. Jannik says:

    what do u mean by ( expose their deepest energy)

  16. kbehan says:

    Think of a dog’s mind as composed like a battery with every experience stored in its body/mind. When a dog wants something with a lot of energy, and if that want doesn’t come true, then this energy doesn’t go away, it is reabsorbed by the emotional battery and from then on it “vibrates” when in the presence of that which can satisfy it. Because emotion is one part arousal coupled to one part vulnerability, the more it wants this thing, the more the issue of trust comes up. So the more the dog wants something, the deeper the energy in its battery that is affiliated with this state of wanting, and so we see that many dogs don’t “open up” to their owners because the trust isn’t there. So by doing the “pushing” in moments of intense conflict, which actually means that the dog is in the presence of something that can resolve its deepest wants, the dog is learning that it can expose its deepest energy to its owner, and this cultivates trust. Good question, thanks.

  17. Russell says:

    Can you explain a little more about the opposite force in the push/pull exercise. Are there signals that you look for in the dog that switch you from increasing the level of energy in the dog back to pushing. Am I right thinking this is flipping from prey to predator? Does the dog trigger the reverse in polarity?

  18. kbehan says:

    I’m not entirely clear about your question. Would you mind restating it. Thanks.

  19. Russell says:

    Yes of course.
    I noticed on the video of you pushing with a Rottweiler (Quantum Canine Ep 6) that you looked like you were trying to push back towards the dog, and you raised your hands, the dog moved back and then did a spin. I think the exercise was even described as “push me pull you”. You described the balance between the two forces ending up as heel. I wondered if there was something that you looked for or caused you to then end up being chased/pushed. Does the dog do something to make you be prey like, do they look towards you, do they move? Perhaps I’m thinking too much in terms of stimulus/response! I also thought it was similar to what I think you’ve called flipping polarity, where, in a game, dogs turn from prey to predator, chased to chaser.
    Forgive my confusion, this is a fascinating exercise and I want to understand more.

  20. kbehan says:

    Okay now I understand your question. Yes, after your dog will push-into-you, i.e. it’s acting like the predator and projecting its energy and driving into you with all its might, then it’s time to teach it to pull-you-in, i.e. flipping polarity and being the receiver of energy rather than the transmitter of energy. These two polarities average out to compute a nice tight heel and the dog isn’t doing it because it’s being lured into position with a treat or even for the reward although the use of food is critical in the beginning to create the effect of “electromagnetism.” Indeed, as far as the dog is concerned it is actually feeling magnetic attraction and repulsion. If you do it long enough, the dog generalizes the feeling to the handler’s body language and just does it for the feel of it.
    There are some preliminary steps one must do, but it’s not that the dog gives me an indication. I did some prep work and the dog was investing all its energy into me, and then by manipulating where I hold my food hand over its head, this induces the magnetic repulsion as it simultaneously defines an axis around which the dog rotates and turns its body to be in alignment with me. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll work this exercise into a future episode of Quantum Canine and cover it in more depth in regards to preparing the dog. Hope this answers your question.

  21. Russell says:

    Thank you, I look forward to seeing and reading about the steps you work through.

  22. Jannik says:

    do u always use food while pushing?


  23. kbehan says:

    In the beginning yes. But once the dog gets strong, I then shift to pushing for bite toy. Eventually the dog gets so into it that it will push to push. Even when it plays with other dogs it tends to get more out of pushing in rather than running around.

  24. Jannik says:

    now i know what you mean about breaktrough with the pushing, interesting! i will write down some things and tell about it a litle later.
    Its also interesting u mention the block there can be while playing tug with the dog,contra pushing.


  25. christopher says:

    i started pushing with my 3yr lab mix koda a few weeks back. tonight a turkey appeared in our neighbors yard, a pretty good distraction considering we live in the burbs. she saw it, barked a couple times, then fixed on it fur raised and tail up. then something happened, as i watched silent from a distance, koda made eye contact with me. i waved her to a down and she dropped like a rock. is this control the result of the pushing or am i making to much of this. thanks

  26. kbehan says:

    Koda’s behavior in this turkey incident is not a coincidence. What your dog is learning is that you are her “ground” for turkey energy. The purpose of the pushing is to create a strong enough emotional contact between you and your dog so that any and all energy that stimulates your dog can be channeled into you. So what happened was that Koda was “charged” (i.e. highly energized and yet blocked) by the turkey and this is why her hackles raised and she barked. Her body as pipe was radiating energy out of her mind (as energy circuit) because of the fear factor, in other words her top-line is just like a heat radiator and she was trying to off/load energy by barking. Meanwhile she was fixated on the eye of the turkey, its “negative” and since that channel wasn’t open in her body/mind, she began to look for a new negative, and that became your eyes; your negative. (Watch the Quantum Canine episode on “Negative as Access to the Positive”). Because you have been doing pushing with her, Koda was now able to feel a pull to you when charged by the turkey, and this was because you were teaching her to overcome resistance (in other words you were CHARGING her to food) and this was feeling really good to her. If you had not been channeling her energy, even if she didn’t summon the courage to chase it or you were able to scold her and knock her out of drive because she was in that instant feeling blocked, nonetheless when the turkey fled she would have nevertheless been feeling a strong pull in that direction and this would have remained as an imprint in her emotional battery that eventually would outweigh your ability to control her because overcoming turkey resistance feels so good.
    What’s really vital to understand is that after a while Koda will not even be charged by the sight of a turkey because through the emotional channeling process she can feel from the imprint in her emotional battery that energy is going to run-to-ground through you, and this will change the energetic equation in its entirety. She won’t feel blocked, she’ll simply feel a pull to you and you can do with this energy as you please. (Although in the short term I recommend pushing and biting the toy to increase the feeling of flow to you.) The other day I walked my dogs into the woods and there was an explosion of more than twenty turkeys as the young birds in the flock were now old enough to fly. The adult birds stood in the nearby ferns clucking trying to draw the dogs in with the young birds dropping down from trees overhead and fluttering around. My dogs watched all of this in stunned amazement and then came to me for a rub-a-dub and that was the end of it. I waited for the turkeys to move along and literally one minute later the dogs acted as if nothing had just happened. At some point when I play with them later, this then becomes the ground for that energy.
    The next step for Koda is to upgrade her motivation from food to a tug/push toy and then 200,000 volts triggered by turkey can fully run to ground just as if she had killed a turkey. Sometimes when I see a deer, I throw a stick at the deer and I let my dog run at the fleeing deer knowing that it is going to get its stick and bring it back to me and thereby tune out the bobbing white tail because it’s not as strong a pull as the push-stick-to-Kevin charge. For my dog bringing me a stick is what chasing a deer feels like.
    When your dog is fully channeled, you don’t even need to reward in that specific instance, that’s when the dog’s mind as an emotional battery is working in your favor because it ties all the moments together according to a long term pattern of how energy flows within their body/mind. But for now you’re at the beginning of Koda’s learning curve so keep up the good work; give Koda a good rub-a-dub from her friends at NDT and Keep On Pushing!

  27. christopher says:

    thank you for your insight. took koda to an open field for some pushing and some tug since she has done so well in the yard. i was unsuccessful in both excercises. while i was dissappointed, i was also amazed by my disconnection with her. there was no wild behaviour just a lot of sniffing around and gazes off in the distance. since tug is her favorite i was supprised. i didn’t realize the affect a different setting can have. i guess i learned a lot on this outing. by the way, i read your book a few years back and loved it. does the online version contain additional information?

  28. kbehan says:

    You make an important observation. The central nervous system does not “like” change, it craves stasis, so until the dog’s Temperament is fully developed, any time circumstances change greatly, the brain overrides the heart in the interest of safety and that is why you witnessed a fall off in Koda’s energy in a new setting. Basically, you need to get Koda hungrier so that the Temperament can be stronger than the Big-Brain’s instincts and habits. Just feed Koda doing the pushing exercise off familiar territory until you see a steady state style of openness to change.
    In my Lulu version of NDT I added a foreword, put back the final chapter that was in the original version, hopefully cleaned up all the typos and also rephrased some things in the interest of clarity.

  29. AZdogerman says:

    I ordered your book I hope it comes tomorrow but in the meantime: Our pushing sessions have been improving but I have a question, I have been trying to incorporate the “eyes” exercise into pushing by getting eye contact then quickly saying “push” and backing up/pushing. Is this ok to do, or am I still “skipping scales” and missing the point of the groundwork? Thanks!

  30. kbehan says:

    Don’t mix anything else into the foundation work. The object is that the dog acts on you rather than reacts to you and so there’s no place for commands in the beginning either so that the dog is “in drive.” Good pushing.

  31. AZdogerman says:

    Ah ok, that makes good sense. I cannot channel her drive until she gives it to me and she won’t give it to me while I’m still clamping it down with directions that have always for her represented a stifling of energy. I’ll just work on letting her be a doga. Thanks Kevin.

  32. Heather says:

    I thought this was interesting – today I did the pushing in the morning, but in the evening I was busy and set the food bowl down outside because it was so nice out, and walked away – Happy followed me instead of eating. I went back to show him the food, he kept looking at me, he wanted to push, not just eat. So we did push a few times. I left the food bowl where it was on the ground, and he didn’t show any interest in it until we were done pushing (I usually push with a couple of cups of food, he eats 3 or 4 cups per meal, which might be overdoing the pushing to do that much).

  33. Heather says:

    And one more good, interesting thing – I had Happy dragging a long leash while the kids were riding bikes today. He left the bikes alone but really wanted a snowball that my daughter was fussing over – I was about to pick up the leash to avoid a snowball incident, when Happy looked around for his toy, went and grabbed it and took it to my daughter, then brought it to me for some tug. I thought that was pretty amazing, and it is those kinds of moments that I know we’re on the right track. Thanks Kevin!

  34. Heather says:

    footnote: later, after my daughter went inside, he hunted for, and ate, her snowball, but I’m not telling 🙂

  35. kbehan says:

    Excellent handler awareness. Paying attention and taking nothing for granted is the key to success. And good dog Happy.
    Keep on pushing!

  36. christine randolph says:

    Happy’s mom,

    I recently started to write a diary of achievements and otherwise of my dogs.

    my friend who has 4 bernese and is VERY SERIOUS about her dogs, told me to do this because if I ever acquire another young dog, I can refer to the earlier days of my original dogs (I have not had dogs before now) and see similarities, differences, etc.

    I am not THAT serious about it all, but I think it is a good idea. you are probably all already doing it…

    at the clicker expo they came up with this idea of keeping statistics like, record each single frigging click, I said NO WAY AM I EVER going to do this,

    recording certain events, things that seem great at the time but later i would never remember at which particular date it occurred, such as the first time betsy GOT the flyball machine etc. seems to make sense, especially to help with any dogs in my future, a long time from now.

  37. Heather says:

    I think it’s a good idea, Christine, I hadn’t thought about it. Over the last couple of months I’ve been trying to un-focus on teaching the dog. At some point when I start training exercises in earnest it will probably make sense to keep notes.

  38. christine randolph says:

    well you could document what you think are key points in Happy’s emotional development…like that time when he did NOT grab your arm etc. etc.

  39. AZDogerman says:

    I have been having the problem that my dog will give a great push for food but as soon as the food is gone she goes right to the ground to look for small kibbles that may have fallen. Also, another funny thing happened yesterday, we were playing tug which she is very good at, and a little fly buzzed her ear and she dropped the tug and became fixated on this tiny tiny insect which seemed strange to me.

  40. christine randolph says:

    yep – for one of my dogs flies and other buzzers are … prey. dogs eat anything…insects are no exception.

  41. kbehan says:

    The fly is attracting the intensity factor that she isn’t able to channel into path of highest resistance, owner. Part of her is inhibited, and which is evidenced by caring about food tidbits on the ground. So best way to increase Drive is through hunger circuitry as fear can only be turned back into desire through hunger, and therefore the first question is whether you are also feeding her from a bowl during this time. Is she hungry enough to give you her fear? Other things you can do to attract fear is to take her to new places and if you see a drop off in energy level, then this is an internalization and therefore source of fear that you don’t have access. Another thing you can do is have someone play with another dog nearby and attract that “path of least resistance” energy into the pushing. So the dog is showing her weakness, and it has to be strengthened with hunger/arousal component.

  42. AZdogerman says:

    Yes her energy drastically drops off in new places until she is triggered by a prey animal or other dog. So I can channel the energy she gives the other dogs into pushing by making her very very hungry. I have noticed though, that when she gets really hungry she gets anxious and will start licking anything in sight and frantically starts eating grass. She even tried to eat the doormat. Last time this happened I tried to redirect to push-for-food but afterward she went right back to eating grass. After a bath the other day I channeled the “zooms” very successfully though, and she gave me LOTS of energy. Would it be possible to ionize her through rubbing her with a wet cloth to induce the zooms in fear-creating setting as a way to access deep levels of fear? Thanks.

  43. kbehan says:

    It’s quite possible that all that tactile stimulation will trigger the deeper memory from its sheer intensity, so worth trying. The object is to get the dog powering into the bite, and hunger circuitry is only way to turn fear/intensity back into desire so that anxiety you see when she gets hungry, and the drop off in energy when you change places, are opposite expressions of the same thing. In the short term, by attracting anxiety into push, you are turning it into desire. And by attracting small prey energy into push, you are turning the fear/intensity into desire as well. Eventually when she starts biting the toy at 100% when in new places and there are prey animals, her anxiety level will begin to naturally subside and you won’t need to have her hungry in any case since she’s processing her attraction to you through the hunger circuitry at these higher, drive levels of expression. So, keep on pushing!

  44. AZDogermanStu says:

    I have been experimenting with the tidbit problem so see if I can more readily access this fear but I don’t know if its acceptable or if i should merely continue to push with her acting on me and not reacting. I do a round of pushing and then when she begins to go the ground to sniff for tidbits I started to rub and pinch and push and shuffle into her especially that spot between the ribs and back leg. At first she would slink away (not flee, there was no curled under tail) and go into avoidance sniffing but I kept after her and as soon as she would turn back to look at me or give me a super inhibited mouthing I would flip to preyful and conduct through pushing which she would eagerly do. Then we would repeat. The avoidance behavior has lessened significantly and she seems more ready to push. What do you think?

  45. kbehan says:

    To help her get over the hump, it would be good to fast her and only feed her for the pushing and for acting on you rather than reacting to you. Once you flip that switch, then she will become aroused by your pressure so I think you should get the hunger component stronger. I think you mentioned earlier she becomes anxious and chews things. This is probably a throwback behavior to early training as repression and so would be good to go right at that block via the hunger circuitry.

  46. AZdogerman says:

    Ok sounds good to me thanks!

  47. AZDogermanStu says:

    So I have been fasting her but have a few follow-up questions. She displayed some anxious behaviors but would not give much attention to me for push so I just played some tug. This seemed to calm her anxiety pretty well. If she does not want to push well, would it be ok to play tug with her until she is hungry enough to give me her fear? I think that by playing tug when she isn’t pushing well she is learning that playing tug feels really good and satisfies her hunger/anxiety. Eventually hunger will overcome fear for good push and for the time being tug serves to prevent overload? I noticed also that Heather pre-ordered a book but which book was it? I would like to get Your Dog is Your Mirror ASAP. Thanks!

  48. kbehan says:

    It sounds like she can only express intensity toward the bite toy and not toward you. So I would post her up and work on her jumping up and making contact and then slipping away using the food up high to induce her to spring up as actively as possible. I also wonder how the bark is going? If she’s off the post then she has to divide her energy about how she is relative to you, more of a moving frame of reference and this subtracts focused energy from the equation. When she jumps up and makes contact, massage her neck, and then start to put a little push toward her as you lean back. It’s a very subtle move, don’t skip the making contact and little bit of pressure that she sustains and then when you disengage she wants to push right back in. Keep me posted.
    Also, “Your Mirror” is available in October, but I don’t know maybe pre-order is slightly faster. I appreciate your support, thanks.

  49. AZDogermanStu says:

    Ok I will work on this aspect. After the subtle move am I to give her the food or keep it high up? Yes she is not comfortable giving me her energy at all but yes for the toy! The bark is going well I think. I can ask her to speak in most situations and she will. It gets stuck in the muzzle and is a soft “whuff” or whine and she turns her head to side sometimes but after a couple of seconds I can tune it to a good strong bark. If I post her up she will bark as soon as I start the stalk. I can tune her body posture as well so the she is in a solid sit with solid bark. Would you be willing to critique a couple of short videos if I posted to youtube?

  50. kbehan says:

    Yes, post the videos. Here’s the next step. Post her up. Tease her with the toy and then put it down out of her reach. Ask her to bark. If she can’t bark, or after she does, ask her to jump up and make contact. Then try to push when she’s able to. After she gets good, then she can get to bite the toy, jump up, put in your hand, let go for bark, and so on. The reason she is so intense about toy is because she has channeled fear into toy, it’s become the path of least resistance for her intensity. Keep on pushing!

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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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