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. AZDogermanStu says:

    Here are the videos I was feeling a little pressured by the camera and tried to keep them short. Thanks for taking a look! I tried to incorporate your advice with her normal behavior to show what she is like. They were one long video but I separated them into two smaller ones in the order we did them:

  2. […] This post is extracted from a comment left by AZDogermanStu on March 29, 2010 “How I Developed the Pushing Technique” […]

  3. Ben says:

    Kevin, I adopted a new dog recently, and had a few questions about pushing. I never got to start out on the right foot with Indy’s training, but I am really excited to be able to apply NDT from the get-go with Nelly.. she is a 10-12 mo old Rottie mix from the local pound.

    I started pushing with her in the backyard from day one, and so far she has excelled. She can synchronize with me beautifully and pushes hard enough to get up on her hind legs. She is having some problems holding her sit and down, but we are working on that.

    However, OUTSIDE of the backyard is a different story. She becomes purely electric. The first few walks we went on she was more or less in a daze it seemed.. she didn’t really seem interested in other dogs, people, squirrels, etc. I thought I had it easy until a few days ago when she turned into a meerkat when we came across some dogs. She literally hops around on her back feet, which on a lanky 40lb dog is pretty funny looking, but she is obviously overloaded. She will hit the end of her leash HARD trying to get after them.

    Just so I have my theory straight– when a dog is electric, this is Big-Brain activity right? And because of the electric nature, she is going to ground out her charge via the path of least resistance. Since the owner is inherently predator-like, this is definitely not the owner and always something else (squirrel, dog, kid, etc). And her charge is coming from her battery.. so in her case, there is a physical memory where she felt the same level of attraction she’s feeling towards other dogs, and historically was not able to overcome the resistance encountered. If she is again NOT able to overcome the resistance, this is stored even DEEPER in the battery, correct?

    What I’ve been doing is taking her to fields in parks where dogs are walked, and getting her to push. The first time she would not push at all, so I tied her leash to a basketball goal post. When she gave me attention and pulled toward me, I would move in closer. When she averted her gaze, smelled around, etc I would move away. If she held her focus on me long enough I would come in and let her strain to get the food.

    I’ve taken her out to parks twice now since then and she has pushed even in the presence of dogs (though it took her awhile to calm down after seeing them before she would). After pushing, we passed by two unleashed dogs sitting off to the side, and while she was intently focused on them, she did NOT jump up or have a panic attack like normal.

    Am I approaching this the right way? I feel like I’m heading in the right direction with her, but I guess my question is how do you know you’re really tapping deep into the energy reserves?

    As a footnote, she also “hates” her crate (she will tear up any bedding in it), will nip at my ankles and try to hump my leg if I run away from her and have no toy, and sometimes has trouble settling down inside the house. I have my work cut out!

  4. kbehan says:

    It’s great to read the theory recounted so aptly. Good job. So to improve her response to conflict, how is her bite? This is the purest expression of a channel between dog and owner so work her in the backyard, with strike, bite and carry, and discover how hard she will fight with you to win the bite object. This is the absolute upper limit on how much energy she can channel to you, the path of highest resistance, not to mention the physical memory of her first owner and house/manner training which can stand as a road block until that’s resolved. Also important the bark on command to help her project her deepest layers of battery onto you so as path of highest resistance she can be primed to channel energy toward you. The tearing up of crate bedding is the deeper energy that’s not yet worked into the equation, so that will be an interesting window into her development. Keep on pushing!

  5. AZDogermanStu says:

    I have been working/playing diligently these past few weeks with Bootsy and things seem to be rapidly improving. She has started to bark at dogs when she is straining at the leash instead of frenzied growls so I think this is a step in the right direction ( more coherent ). If she starts to bark at something else and I transfer the bark so she is barking at me, does this prime her so that I can resolve that energy with push? Should I encourage her to bark at things other than me or just wait until she acts on me for a push in these situations? It’s nice to see that you are actively posting once more. Thanks for working with Neil on the conference call it was a pleasure to listen to.

  6. kbehan says:

    Right, when she barks coherently at you she is projecting her c-o-g onto you, which is another way of saying fear (since the p-cog is the core kernel of physical memory and holds the most intense values), and that means you’re in position to resolve the fear that causes the aggressive or incoherent responses and reactivity to other dogs. The goal is for the dog to naturally channel her fear to you instead of going by old habit, so you have to go by feel as to when to help and when to wait. In general, the less you do the better. Finally,pushing won’t fully resolve it completely but it is setting you up to resolve it fully. By this I mean that once you get excellent drive behaviors, you are going to want to be more provocative and present more confrontational predatory energy so that she is going to express TOWARD YOU the same response that she is now holding in reserve to these other dogs. So first you’re building the foundation with what you’re currently doing, and then you are going to put her in conflict so that she can solve you as “the problem.” We want to transfer the static electric charge off of the dogs on horizon, and onto handler. This is because she can’t solve the other dog as problem, but you are now teaching her everything she needs to solve you as the problem when you finally get around to presenting her with this final phase. By so doing, you are replacing dog on horizon as most intense value, with handler as most intense value, and toward which she is now learning how to be completely soft, open, resilient and having the time of her life. At some point, you want to have someone with an aggressive dog act as the trigger and then you get her channeled to you and then help her to become completely soft. This may be a while off yet, first you want to get Drive as strong as you can. Keep On Pushing!

  7. Ben says:

    Nelly’s bite is relatively soft right now.. when I first brought her home she would not hold onto anything. I quickly got her to start tugging, but she still slips into limp mode where she won’t tug, will lay down, etc. She is slowly getting better and better with biting harder though and ripping the toy out of my hand, so it might just be a matter of time.

    In order to increase bite, do you want to be more predator like or preyful while tugging?

    I have noticed she’s starting to bark and whine more in general– is this a positive sign I’m shaking things up in the pipes so to speak?

    When I ask her to “hup”, she will put her paws on either side of my waist almost as if she’s “hugging” me. Is this her way of avoiding direct contact? I was petting her while she was doing this, and eventually she started to hump. I’m not really sure how to handle that so I ripped free, got her tug toy, and got her to bite. My thinking is that it will channel that energy into a bite and thus resolve it.

    Thanks for the reply– it has been a huge help!

  8. Ben says:

    Wanted to add something interesting I noticed.. I experimented and tried to get her to push-for-bite-toy yesterday, but she immediately went to bite my “pushing” hand instead of the toy.. whereas with food she pays it no mind.

  9. kbehan says:

    Yes, that’s interesting. It tells me that in absence of food (path of least resistance and hence easiest to push for) that the resistance of getting the bite toy that you’re denying with your other hand, is thus triggering physical memory of being denied a toy or something that came up in her house training, possibly smacked for. What you can do to fill in the missing steps, is teach her to follow you with toy in her mouth, and then jump up on low box next to you with toy in her mouth, until finally she will jump up ON YOU with toy in her mouth at which point you are 99% there with overcoming resistance to her pushing to get bite toy in your hand. Meanwhile you can accustom her to stronger and stronger contact in pushing for food. Keep On Pushing!

  10. kbehan says:

    As she starts to feel safe with you (clenching is fear) her earlier memories will surface and this is the humping (arrested sexual development) that she didn’t yet evolve into Drive and is stuck in her personality, which is the going limp syndrome. (If she humps you try to keep it processing into pushing in/wallowing for physical contact so that she gets so aroused you can see her want to mouth you. Then if you notice, you’re already at the point I outlined in earlier post and she will be willing to push in for bite toy without losing energy to your open hand. She perceives the empty hand as the negative that takes her energy away.) The whining is probably what she was also corrected for so she is whining as you get her excited and she has to go through all those layers. The following is how the emotional battery is “layered.” Exploding protects a dog from memories of imploding, imploding protects a dog from memories of fear, fear protects a dog from memories of pain, pain protects a dog from memories of “a want.” So when you rehab a dog you have to go through all these layers to get a want up to the surface so that it can then be clarified into a drive expression so that stress can be injected and focus the emotional current of attraction to do work and WITHOUT revisiting all those exploding/imploding/fear/pain memories. The Drive satisfies the universal Want to turn emotional mass into energy and which does work (in the natural scheme of things work = turning energy into information) and experiencing this clarifying process is what heals a dog’s damaged temperament. Meanwhile, going through all those steps will trigger owner’s physical memories as well so always remember, it’s not about the dog.

  11. AZDogermanStu says:

    Thanks Kevin for the response, and thanks Ben for initiating your discussion about pushing, it has been very helpful. I have a question about resistance. If an attraction denied creates resistance ever deeper in the battery, then is this how a path of least resistance (a squirrel, a rock, a cat, food) becomes a greater and greater attraction? And if it does grow in resistance then does it become the path of greatest resistance that the dog still wants to go to because the attraction has always been present and increased proportionally with the resistance? So if this were the case then that is why handlers need to begin with preyful aspect because prey is what dogs most desire?

    I have been waiting to incorporate bite toy work until she has more drive for food but was wondering if I could go on a “hunt” for the bite toy but I would be the one who locates and possesses the toy at all times. Similar to how bird dogs were trained in your book. So the group focus is find toy but she never gets it until sometime in the future, when she is ready. Is this also a way to build the resistance aspect of the toy? I tried this today as an experiment and she was very happy the whole time and very in sync with me.

  12. kbehan says:

    Right, frustration gets internalized and builds up a charge, that is then attributed to the predatory aspect of the small prey or even a toy, and so the dog gets more and more intense and addicted to these kinds of things that can’t bring it to a state of true satisfaction.
    That’s a good exercise with the toy, this is what I do with dogs that are on the hunt for other dogs. I hide a toy in a tree in the park where the people go, and then as they’re walking along they go “Reeeaaaaddy” and then race to the Ready Tree with the dog following at which point they reach up, produce the toy and then have a good fight. The dog thereafter starts to tune into the handler for the little signals that they are about to sense prey, the dog gets as excited by these subtle mannerisms as he would when he sees the other triggers, such as jingle of dog collar around the corner of the trail, the swish of dog tail on the horizon, etc..

  13. AZDogermanStu says:

    Ok cool! What fun, thanks!

  14. Ben says:

    Nelly (or should I say we) took a step back today unfortunately. She had been doing so good with pushing that I decided to go on a short walk around the neighborhood midday when not many people were out. I brought my bag of food, and asked her to push periodically which she did, and did well! It was the first time I’ve seen her actually relax her ears and look “magnetic” so to speak on a walk– albeit this was sporadic and she still keyed up at many points.

    This all changed though as we got back to the house. I was bending down to pick up some food that had spilled, and she broke free from the leash as she spotted a rabbit. She chased it into a neighbors backyard, but it escaped. I called her back and she came running, and I told her what a good girl she was. I tried to get her to push again a few times as she seemed really shaken up, but decided to give it a rest as she wasn’t interested at all.

    She conked out on the floor absolutely exhausted for about 15 minutes, and I put her in her crate and went onto work. When I returned, she had almost broken one of the (metal) sides down, and had shredded the blanket I use to cover the crate top/sides. She had obviously been throwing herself against the crate as it was in an entirely different position.

    I brought her outside and she had NO interest in playing tug, and ignored anything I said. Normally she will eagerly come to me if I make a “kissing” sound to her, but ignored that as well. She kept on going back to the same places that she has chased other critters before in the backyard.

    I will admit I was frustrated at myself because I thought maybe I had moved a little too quickly in taking her for a walk, but she had been doing so good up until this point. I am wondering if my frustration had anything to do with the rampage in the crate.

    Hopefully tomorrow we can start out better. Other dogs I’ve trained I’ve had ups and downs, but it is always tough to take when you progress so far and then everything seems to go out the window.

  15. AZdogermanstu says:

    I was thinking about the “eyes” exercise again and also the pushing technique:

    I was wondering why pure physical exertion is required for the dog to will the food into its mouth ( or will toy via push of war) and resolve stress instead of the dog willing solely with its eyes. If staring at a dog triggers its battery, is it not sufficient resistance to trigger the deeper layers? A calm stare seems more coherent and focused (hunger circuitry) than vigorous pushing or tug (hunger and balance).

    I was thinking that if wolves/dogs have an efficiency mechanism then if they could, they would will the moose to simply walk into their mouths. Much like Ben was discussing in comment 3 about approaching the dog only when they are giving eye contact to the handler. It seems like the resistance that pushing offers is different that what “eyes” offers. Also, when the dog is choosing to give eyes and not focus on the food/steak/toy does he then compute a total value of the handler as positive so that staring at the negative converts the negative to positive as if they toy sublimated into the handler?

  16. christine randolph says:

    haha yes i am sure if wolves could work that out, they would will the moose into their mouths with supernatural forces…
    reminds me of a ghost story i recently read…
    the vampires willing the victims to self destruct…
    i think the tension cannot be relieved unless the body moves and there is some vocalizing. if you look at tai chi. stagnant chi vs flowing chi…or if you look at Kendo, one big (to an iaido student rather undignified) screaming and jumping fest. very good for kids to let off steam !!!!!

  17. kbehan says:

    You’re posing a great question and I want to be sure I understand it properly. To restate it in terms of my model, the eyes trigger the battery, whereas the pushing is the overcoming of resistance to deplete the battery. So why then if the heart is an efficiency expert doesn’t it do the most efficient thing and merely Will the moose into its waiting jaws? For one thing, unlike a mouse, a moose doesn’t fit into the wolf’s mouth not to mention that the wolf is physically inferior to the moose. The moose has to be made con-fused so that its energetic essence is liberated from its form. The wolf isn’t strong enough or have enough jaw power to deal with the moose. The moose must become disoriented and disabled before its essence is available for ingestion, hence the need to discharge the battery since this will be the mechanism by which the moose can be disoriented. Whereas a lion, if it lived in the northern latitudes could in fact merely wait on a boulder above the trail and jump on the back of a moose and kill it pretty straightforwardly. Other than the work of having to kill it which wouldn’t be too extreme, it could to that extent Will the prey into its mouth.
    In regards to eye contact, the head bone isn’t necessarily connected to the back bone, etc.. It has to be connected by virtue of the battery. So in the animal mind the negative (eyes) grants access to the positive (body) and this renders a value of one pole connected to the other, externally in its perception of the other animal, and internally in terms of a sense of its own body. So when the eyes trigger the body/mind as a repository of the past, then the head of the being is connected to the body of the being either in terms of an instinct, habit or a feeling. What the dog is learning when it Wills the handler to come closer as in the example Donnie offers, is that the dog is willing this movement by the force of desire, as opposed to going by past habits or instincts. It starts to weight a feeling over an instinct or a habit. So when the dog is learning to give eye for the steak, it is connecting the eyes of its handler to the steak, so in that sense yes, the steak becomes sublimated into the dog’s feeling for the handler. And that is also what’s happening when the wolves get the moose to run, they are willing it to move, and by virtue of bringing it to ground, they are bringing their collective group battery to neutral. Unlike a lion, they need to do work to feel requited because their hunger is much stronger. But in either the lion or the wolf, both are willing the prey into their mouth, its just that the wolf needs to align with other wolves because it is rendering a more evolved expression of network consciousness, hence it is endowed with a hunger that motivates it toward that which is beyond its physical means of attainment. It must organize socially in terms of the prey to resolve their collective battery.

  18. christine randolph says:

    yes good point. cougars operate the same way as lions and occupy similar habitats as wolves. (we have a cougar hanging around our neighborhood right now, along with 2 black bears)
    …no eye contact when you are lying in wait in a tree and just see the back and neck of your prey…they definitely have an advantage over wolves in that they can use gravity to launch themselves onto the prey into a position where they are not exposed to their hooves etc. they can totally kill a moose, or a horse and rider, on their own

  19. Crystal says:

    Is it OK to push with both of my pups at the same time? I have done this twice now when I had to hurry out after dinner. Each of them push enthusiastically with or without the other one there and each wait for the ready. I have them take turns by handfuls.

    They are already used to waiting close by on a mat or box while I do training with the other one. They can also be side by side and only the dog who’s name I use will do the behavior asked for, i.e. Colt lie down. Only Colt will lie down.

    Just wondering if there is anything that may be detrimental to the affect of the exercise.

  20. kbehan says:

    At some point it doesn’t matter whatsoever but bear in mind that the most important thing is that each dog will push with abandon no matter whatever else may be going on around them. So be careful that it isn’t reduced to an obedience exercise with one waiting for its turn, as this can possibly limit the technique’s efficacy. If a dog will push no matter what even under duress, high rate of change, or intense distraction, then the dog is feeling as if it is getting contact with that object by being grounded into its owner. By being attracted to its owner it is getting satisfied. That’s the fundamental principle that you don’t want to lose sight of. Therefore before going for complexity, make sure the dog will give you all its energy in the push no-matter-what.

  21. Crystal says:

    Ok, that makes sense re: not turning it into an obedience exercise. I am keeping it moving pretty well I think so the wait time is very small if at all. I think each is full out, but I can test this by taking them one at a time out in the front yard when the skateboarder kids take over our cul de sac. The pups have calmed down inside the house when this happens, (I played tug and pushed for food a couple of times) but I think it will be a good place to see if I get abandon under intense distraction.

  22. […] on his website which explains the exercise in a bit more detail than mine. And Kevin has written an article in which he describes why he invented the exercise in the first place. I hope this helps! […]

  23. Alwynne says:


    Is it normal for a dog’s energy towards its handler to come and go as you are working with her or is this a sign I am doing something wrong? Things seem to be going up and down for me and Cholula. One day she will get super excited in the back yard over the bite toy, will jump up on me after it and play tug of war with me and give me more energy than I’ve ever seen; the next day she will bark at a dog on a walk and then not engage the bite toy at all no matter what I do. This morning, I walked her in a park with lots of other dogs and was able to get her to turn her attention from the other dogs (who I never let get super close, but they were certainly close enough that her ears were pointing straight forward at them and her energy and excitement was going in their direction) “up” on me with a fair amount of energy all the way around the park–but when we got home she would barely push and certainly not play with the bite toy. In fact she kept staring up at the tree in the yard as if hoping a squirrel would appear there (i.e. avoiding me). I tried not to show my irritation and instead didn’t feed her breakfast so she will be hungry for pushing when I get home from work — but what do you think of this pattern?

  24. kbehan says:

    Yes, in the beginning, the dog is working off its pattern of load/overload, and so it doesn’t fully re-energize by the positive experiences because of the physical memories of energy loss in the past with a human, so little by little it gains and when you attain full intensity, then you reach “critical mass” and can’t go backwards. By increasing the hunger you are increasing your dog’s capacity to turn resistance into Drive. This will be manifest as the dog wanting to play with you no matter where you are and no matter what is going on. Keep On Pushing!

  25. […]  And by stuck I mean it gets stored in our emotional battery.  This is a concept I learned in Natural Dog Training.  So the thing is, we all create these patterns that allow us to get this stored energy […]

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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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