Indy and Milo Recreate the Past

“Hey Kevin, my name is Ben Grubbs and I’ve been (trying) to practice NDT ever since I discovered it, and I’m a frequent poster on your blog–

I was hoping you had a moment to take a look at a video I shot this morning.

I am dogsitting a friend’s dog named Milo who is a pitbull mix ~1.5 yr old. he and Indy (my dog, doberman mix, 6 y.o.) do not always get along, but I’ve tried to create an environment for them where they can have positive experiences together.

My question is– in NDT terms, what is happening in this video? I don’t have a good understanding of how to apply energy theory when dogs are interacting with one another so I’m eager to fill in the gap. Specifically, is there any obvious event or trigger that causes Indy’s outburst? He also attempts to mount Milo when Milo gets near me.

I want to be able to understand what Indy needs in these circumstances… I feel like if I understand what he’s “telling me”, then I’ll know what to do from there.

Thanks for any insight!”

—I posted the article below but its play-by-play analysis is a bit dense and may be confusing so a brief overview now serves as a preface.

The Overview: Dogs are attracted to each other with an emotional force that is stronger than can be consummated through simple contact and companionship. Therefore, and due to the canine emotional makeup, this force is typically deflected onto a common object-of-attraction, what we could call a “midpoint.” In the wild such a midpoint would be the moose, but anything will do if it can absorb the group’s collective energy. Canines self-organize around a midpoint so that they can consummate their combined energies. In this video the stuffed toy served as the midpoint, but when it disintegrated, the dogs still had the same degree of energy, however, without the grounding of the toy, the head-to-head positioning triggered physical memories of earlier crashes and eventually Indy exploded at Milo. This is also why after wolves work together to make a kill, once the moose is dead on the ground, the group disintegrates and a pack reassembles complete with snarls, fangs and hackles. In the video, after the emotional collapse, Milo repaired for recharging from a human, whereas Indy tried to reconnect with Milo and get him moving again by humping him. This syndrome can be prevented if the owner learns how to be “the moose” and then this takes the instinctual charge out of dog-on-dog play.

The Long Version

Dogs are attracted to each other with a force that is stronger than can be satisfied through simple physical contact or companionship. Therefore in order to connect, they must first emotionally polarize and differentiate according to Predator and Prey polarities as these are the two primal Temperament traits that compose an emotional energy circuit. In one moment, one acts as prey, the other acts as predator, the former absorbing energy, the latter projecting energy, and if they can “flip polarities” back and forth, they make “new energy” (which is the point of behavior and evolution) just like the phenomenon of magnetic induction, (i.e. a magnet moved around a coil of wires induces an electrical current—the prey is the virtual “magnet,” the layers of stress in the body/mind as an emotional battery are the virtual “copper wires”). New energy is social energy and this feeling of connection can be as fragile as a soap bubble that pops when touched, or as strong as a PVC pipe you can drive a cement truck over. In general over the course of this video Milo is occupying the prey polarity and Indy the predator.

However, the more alike two dogs are, the more attracted they will be to each other and yet paradoxically as it may first seem, the harder it will be for them to flip polarity and thus the more potential there will be for friction. A dog’s ability to flip polarity in the face of likeness and thus resistance is its “emotional capacity,” i.e. how much new energy can move through the connection before the “bubble” (feeling of connection) bursts. {For example, animal consciousness is exactly like a child learning to ride a bike. He may be okay at 5 mph, but then at 6 or 7mph he loses his ability to feel his body’s physical center-of-gravity and tips over. The child now associates an intense spike of new energy with the collapse of a feeling and therefore the presence of danger.}

The strength of the connection and degree of capacity is dependent on whether the dog can project its “emotional center-of-gravity” fully into the object of attraction and this means that no energy is held in reserve and this also means that no matter what happens, it can always feel its body’s physical center-of-gravity.

The easiest way to flip polarities and increase carrying capacity when the intensity of energy is getting higher is to revolve around a common object-of-attraction. Thus, two dogs’ energy will be deflected off of each other and onto this object, such as the tug toy in the video. In the wild, this deflection tendency of animal electromagnetism will motivate and inform group predators such as wolves to hunt an object of resistance (moose) that can absorb their combined energies.

Such an object serves as an emotional “ground” so that the intensity of head-to-head positioning and the pulses of each dog exerting more and more force, can be displaced into a “frequency” and thereby smooth the irregular spikes of intensity into a wave pattern. This is soothing to a dog’s nerves because each dog’s output becomes periodic and rhythmic and because the dog has an object in its mouth to feel grounded so that it is therefore not worried about losing its balance and can still feel its body. The balance circuitry is what pops the bubble.

In this interaction, as long as the bite object in this video is intact, then this object is able to absorb both dogs’ energies. However as the form of the toy begins to disintegrate, the rhythmic frequency of their connection begins to disintegrate as well and they must now contend with the sheer intensity of a force of attraction that can’t be consummated with simple physical contact and that generates more and more energy by virtue of each others movements. This ungrounded energy (intensity) brings the physical memory of disconnect to the surface of each dog’s awareness. Deeper levels of stress in the battery are now in play to deal with the mounting crisis and the sensations affiliated with disconnect (falling) then prompts the deepest energy held in reserve (and that hasn’t been projected onto the other) to rush up to the surface in an attempt to keep energy moving. This happens in Milo before it happens in Indy.

Also, in any given interaction, one dog will tend toward “electric” i.e. being more concerned with balance, and the other more “magnetic” i.e. referencing its hunger circuitry. We can see that because Milo is younger, while his body is very supple and magnetic, he is not able to sustain a focus on the object as is Indy and so is increasingly focusing on Indy’s eyes and re-positioning on the bite object to get closer to Indy’s eyes as the source of its disconnect. In effect it’s crowding Indy out but, from Milo’s point-of-view he is really trying to connect with his own physical center-of-gravity that he’s starting to not be able to feel. We can see that energy is slipping away from Milo’s jaws and into its front feet as it tries to maintain contact by hooking one paw over the object. It’s putting energy into its footing and losing focus on its jaws because it’s losing the feeling of connection. A rush of electrical intensity comes out of Milo as he “flashes” Indy in trying to reposition his grip and this first burst Indy is able to endure, although loading is well underway. On Milo’s second rush-toward-the-head to get more of the shrinking toy in its mouth, because Indy is the object-of-such-intense-attention, Indy’s bubble does burst, he goes from magnetic to outright electric, and he releases deeper, pent up layers in his battery. In the face of Indy’s outburst Milo freezes up in the preyful polarity and since the prey controls the predator, Indy likewise gets paralyzed in Predatory mode and this terminates the issue except for the fact that now both dogs have the problem of the collapse and needing to reconnect with something in order to neutralize the continuing reverberations of that shock and the sense of enervation. Milo comes to the deck for human input to recharge his battery. Indy attempts to reconnect by snuffling Milo in order to pick up preyful essences off his body. Since Indy has smelled and ingested essence, when he comes on deck he goes into “hubba-hubba” on Milo as a sensual response to the resistance of Milo-as-prey not moving.

This video illustrates the general principle that the purpose of play isn’t for fun or for practice, but to induce energy (where does new energy come from? Old energy, stress acquired by experiencing resistance and getting stored in the battery) so that it can be deflected into working together in the hunt. There is no such thing as play per se. Play is deadly serious. Specifically to these two dogs, the video shows that the dogs are holding back energy, (In Indy’s case this is due to previous incidents) and this ultimately puts sharpness into the “game” which triggers deeper layers in their respective batteries when the volume of energy being expressed hits that specific degree of intensity. (It also shows how Indy is transferring physical memory onto Milo.) So the two dogs can play, but only up to 60 mph. When the game gets going above the speed limit, they revisit an earlier crash and then have no “idea” that Milo is Milo and Indy is Indy.

What is alike within them is the source of their “problem.” Because they are alike in this way, they are having trouble flipping polarity at more intense levels; they can’t differentiate and turn the intensity into a wave because they are still holding back energy deep in their body. Perhaps both dogs sleep on the bed, or some other subtle nuance of the group dynamic could be the point of friction, perhaps an owner’s emphasis on sharing, fairness or being nice. Fortunately, while they are alike in size and some personality predilection, Milo is young and Indy is 6 years old, Milo is light with tight coat while Indy is dark with stock coat, when he gets stuck Milo gravitates to “preyful” with a soft, rounded expression, Indy to “predatory” with a sharp focused expression, and these inherent differences mitigates an all out fight.

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Published October 11, 2009 by Kevin Behan
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36 responses to “Indy and Milo Recreate the Past”

  1. April Hannon says:

    Kevin your knowledge of dog behaviour continues to astound and impress me. I’ve often watched my own two dogs play and wondered what was really going on, but have never really known. I have a question: When my dogs play, the puppy,11 mo.Denny always seems to be the predator and the older, larger,boxer mix Chico, the prey, and when for an instant Denny seems to be becoming the prey, their play is really full of growls, and Denny seems to be scared. What is happening in their play that Denny although he nearly always initiates it doesn’t seem to be really comfortable playing?

  2. Ben says:

    April– I’ve noticed the same thing. Indy is usually very vocal when he plays, and some dogs will freeze up when they hear him. Other dogs seem unphased by it, and continue to play normally. This was happening with Milo– every time he would hear Indy growl or snarl, he would freeze up or move away from him.

    Interestingly, Indy’s vocalness really decreases when he has a toy in his mouth (aside from it physically muffling him 🙂 ). In fact, he will only roughhouse/wrestle with me if has a toy with him.

    Will two dogs always eventually be able to flip polarity after some time together? And is that really the key to them getting along? Looking back on the dogs that Indy has interacted with.. this seems to be the case. The dogs he “gets along” the best with are the ones that are able to “give it back” to him a little (i.e. chase him, etc).

  3. kbehan says:

    Thanks for your generous comments April. What’s going on between Denny and Chico is the following.
    When two dogs engage, the dog with the stronger temperament in that context, i.e. higher emotional capacity, will be the one to flip polarity first. So since Chico is emotionally stronger than Denny at this point, he is able to feel emotional leverage and therefore flow, by being the object-of-attraction. Whereas when the roles are reversed, Denny can’t feel any flow by being the object-of-attention as his physical memory of bad situations is rekindled and so the bubble that connects them collapses. Denny wants to play, so he’ll initiate, but he can only feel flow by occupying the predator polarity. So if Chico wants to feel flow, he must flip polarity and become the prey to Denny.
    Many people think I’m talking about energy metaphorically but I am meaning it quite literally. When Denny is the object-of-attention his emotional energy is functioning just like an electrostatic charge, he experiences this as a pressure in his head that is overwhelming his physical sense of balance and this is why he responds with genuine fear. Denny has no idea he’s dealing with Chico in that moment, he’s dealing with a predator as far as he can know because all he is referencing is his balance circuitry and is consumed with a mounting sensation of falling. Whereas when Chico is the prey, both dogs are referencing their hunger circuitry and so Denny can be the north pole to Chico as the the south because now their emotional energy is functioning as a magnetic domain. The brain and body’s circuitry related to balance contributes electric-like sensations, the brain and body’s circuitry related to hunger contributes the magnetic field. So Denny as predator and Chico as prey is the only configuration at this stage of their development that can complete each others’ circuitry so that they both can experience flow. When Chico gets stronger, he will start to crave flipping polarity because that generates even more energy than simply playing a one way game of chase. I hope to get some video together soon of a dog flipping polarity. Thanks for the question.

  4. Alec says:

    Kevin wrote “(p)erhaps both dogs sleep on the bed, or some other subtle nuance of the group dynamic could be the point of friction, perhaps an owner’s emphasis on sharing, fairness or being nice.”

    Could you explain further why sleeping on the bed would cause friction? My dog sleeps on her own bed on the floor or even on the couch now (it grounded her hyper friendliness one time and continued from there) but I’m interested to know why this is a problem. Could lying on the couch also create friction?

  5. kbehan says:

    We often hear how nature abhors a vacuum, but I think it’s more accurate to say that Nature abhors sameness and so what Nature doesn’t like about a vacuum is that its nothingness is all about sameness. In animal behavior this means that while like is attracted to like, only opposites can connect. In other words, the more varied dogs are the easier it is for them to fit together, this is why it’s easier for male and female dogs to get along rather than same sex pairs, or a big dog and a little dog, a light dog and a dark dog, and so on. So when a dog sleeps on a bed, then it is becoming less variable from its owner because it is occupying the same space, and the bed is a very charged place because it is where humans go supine, and the dog’s nervous system will vibrate more intensely in order to differentiate itself and this vibration eventually becomes a part of its personality and deportment which then attracts other dogs of like vibration and they will have an inordinate degree of friction because they are so alike. This doesn’t mean that they can’t differentiate from each other, but it makes it harder for them to flip polarity when they are being conditioned every night to “push” energy out to maintain their integrity, which is what vibration of nerves is, rather than feel a pull in, which is what flipping polarity is. Giving a dog its own doggy couch is less charged, and humans sit on it rather than lay, but it’s on the same continuum of the bed and I don’t recommend it.

  6. April Hannon says:

    Thanks so much for answering my question Kevin and all the rest of you guys,it really is great to be able to discuss dogs with people who really care and are also trying to understand dogs.And of course, I have another question,our dogs stay outside,I don’t agree with that,but I with live my parents and they don’t care about dogs they have them for a supposed”alarm system”!It really kills me and I could go and on, but my real question is how much do you think that affects the dogs?I do spend alot of time with them, and Denny is very close to me and my sister,but still I really do think it makes a difference.
    You are so right about Denny and bad physical memories.There is so much damage that can be done to dog emotionally,people have no idea.Thanks again for answering my last question.Hope you understand this question its a bit jumbled up.

  7. kbehan says:

    Years ago most dogs lived outside and the truth is they were better adjusted than they are now. In Katz’ book “The New Work Of Dogs” he profiles two dogs, one tied outdoors and neglected according to the way Katz sees things, and the other owned by a neighbor who was the perfect owner with lots of training and socializing. The perfect owner feeling sorry for the neighbors dog chained to its house went to visit the dog with her dog for socializing and her dog attacked the one tied out. Amazingly Katz interpreted the incident inside-out and upside-down seeing it as the result of the perfect dog having to deal with a scrambled up dog.
    Living in a house is stressful for a dog as the compressed physical spaces trigger the pack instincts. So don’t feel sorry for your dogs outside, spend as much time as you can and just have fun with them and they will adapt just fine.
    In my father’s boarding kennel when I was a kid the boarding dogs were never exercised. They spent their time in a chain link kennel going from an indoor stall to an outdoor one through a small drop/gate. To customers it looked like a prison but the dogs felt so free in their own space, as small as it was, they could bark when they wanted and fence fight and dig against the plywood doors and no one was around to tell them “NO.” They all ended up having the times of their lives and when I walked them from the kennel and down the hill to their waiting families, after the initial frenzy in the greeting, you could begin to see the old charge start to settle down onto their shoulders and their energy starting to sap away. Vacation was over.

  8. Alec says:

    Do you think there is any reason to be concerned with the dog being able to freely hunt on their own, whether it be in the back yard or at an off leash park? When I go to an off leash park (a lot of space and much different than the fenced in box) I spend additional time trying to keep the dog in tuned with me via hide and seek, running away from them with a stick for tug or fetch, etc., so they are learning to enjoy the park with me and to satisfy their drives with me at least somewhat. I do however, let my dog out into the backyard for bathroom breaks without me, and she will at times hunt on her own (e.g., digging). Thanks.

  9. April Hannon says:

    Once again Kevin, thank you.After I asked you that question I started to think about it, and I realized that the way I felt about dogs staying outside had little to do with the fact of ”outside”(trees,grass,rain,ect),But rather I was thinking of ”outside”as thats where dogs stay when people don’t really care,its completely untrue,but all my life I’ve been around people who did’nt care about their dogs and those people kept their dogs outside.The first people I met who loved their dogs were very adament about their dogs staying inside, and so I began to feel sorry for dogs who stayed outside and even guilty about our dogs staying outside.Its so true about unresolved emotion, if I thought that I’m sure it showed through in the I interact with dogs. But you’re exactly right about problems,I did’nt know anything about dogs but I did notice some strange things their dogs did,not that our dogs did’nt have problems,but theirs did seem to be amplified.Anyway this is just another reason why I love NDT it makes us stop and look inward instead of always focusing on the external.

  10. shanty says:

    I really appreciate your point that dogs who are too much alike have more difficulty flipping polarities.
    Indy’s behaviour is very similar to my dog and I’m curious if this is why we have more trouble with younger male dogs that give off a Prey vibe. Truman is a border collie that is eager to play but anxious when meeting other dogs (vibrating a ‘prey energy’). I’ve told you before that my dog prefers being chased to chasing and for some reason the friendly breeds – retrievers, labs etc. – are a particular problem for him.
    If a ball, stick or patch of stinky grass attracts both their attention signs of aggression such as growling, lunging and even pinning the other dog down will often result.(but not with all dogs – depending on the dog or the level of excitment). Is he jealous of the attention the item recieves or anxious he will loose control of it?
    He’s fine meeting all dogs on leash and very good with small dogs and most females which I see him switch polarities with.
    After trying to analyze potential triggers I think that he lacked opportunities to play and was overstimulated in the dog park where I intervened during this behaviour by grabbing him off the other dogs. But what can I do now?
    Aside from always keeping dog play low-key and without objects of play so he doesn’t overload, how can I know when he’s built enough confidence with our tug and push exercises to play with another dog yet avoid a conflict over objects of interest?
    As always I thank you for your insights and the time you take to answer questions.

  11. shanty says:

    I noticed you point out that an owner’s emphasis on fairness, sharing or being nice can be a problem. Since that may be our problem can you explain it a bit more for me?

  12. April Hannon says:

    Kevin I was wondering about something that you said in answering my sister’s questions earlier( My younger sister Naomi wrote the two most recent comments under my profile) that seems to contradict some things that I thought were detrimental to dogs. You mentioned that the dogs in your Dad’s boarding kennel were never exercised and you also mentioned the incident with the dog on the chain being attacked by the inside dog, do you mean to say that life on a chain or life in a kennel can be good for a dog in some ways? I am not sure that I really understand what you meant. As for dogs being better adjusted that stayed outside, it really seems to depend on the owners, like Naomi mentioned in her ealier comments, all of the people that we knew that kept their dogs outside were abusive and irresponsible owners to their dogs, but I still was able to see the benefits of the dogs living in their own enviroment where they weren’t scolded for digging holes, or chewing sticks, or on fence posts. While the dogs that stayed inside generally seemed to be extremely hiper in your face at all times and easily disturbed by random noises, so I totally get what your saying about dogs being better adjusted when they lived outside, but when you mentioned the kennels and chain I was confused. If you could clarify what you mean exactly as in if you just meant that the dogs were better adjusted to life because they were out in their natural environment, or that kenneling for long periods of time without exercise, or being chained up, isn’t as detrimental as we have been taught that these ways of confining dogs are. The reason why these issues are important that I have witnessed several dogs being put to sleep because a life of kenneling or being chained up left them unable to function as a normal dog, I’m now wondering if maybe these reasons were not the true factors and that I misunderstand the purpose of kennels or chains.

  13. kbehan says:

    My point is that modern dog handling is overly stimulating and that life in a house is stressful for a dog, primarily because humans don’t understand how important the issue of physical space is for an animal. Dogs are so friendly in the house as a way of defending their personal space and this is charging up their batteries and why we’re having so much problem behavior these days. Also, the dogs in my father’s kennel weren’t exercised in the sense of taken out for walks or let loose in a large yard as the term exercise connotes these days. However they were let out into relatively large outdoor kennels so they weren’t cooped up in a box. But even in this limited environment, because they could do what they wanted when they wanted, and even though there wasn’t much to do, nevertheless almost all dogs acclimated to the change and started to have the time of their lives; when according to modern standards it was an environment of mental deprivation.
    Growing up, the dogs in my neighborhood that were kept on chains were not abused, the two are not synonymous and this is one of the linkages that has crept into the modern pet owners’ mind. Owners let them off their chains to run around the yard but hooked them back up at night or when they had to go somewhere. Otherwise on hot days they went to the swimming hole with the kids and if they didn’t run away with the ball, they could hang out at pickup baseball games. On the coldest nights they came into the sun room or up on the porch and they were always well fed. The owners cared for their dogs; they just thought they were happier outdoors and they were. They were also unbelievably healthy. Our own family dogs lived inside with us, but we didn’t pay too much attention to them and cause them to get unnecessarily excited. We only played outdoors.
    I have known dogs that have only lived tied to a chain or kenneled, and they can develop serious behavioral tics, but surprisingly, sometimes even these can be managed or overcome if there isn’t outright abuse.
    Dogs have no sense of time so they don’t perceive being kenneled or chained as “doing time.”

  14. kbehan says:

    As long as your dog ultimately would rather hunt with you than on her own, then you don’t have to worry about what she does in the yard. If she fixates on digging, you could do a “positive interrupt” by walking out into the yard, calling her for a good push and a pull/push bite and then leaving her alone again. Doing this on a regular basis she will start to tune into you even when she’s in prey instinct.

  15. kbehan says:

    The problem for your dog is that these objects have become defined as “group triggers” but he hasn’t learned that there’s plenty for everyone and so the pack instincts take over which are all the negative behaviors you’ve observed when the energy gets too high. A feeling can channel unlimited energy but an instinct cannot because it’s predicated on maintaining a balance. So it’s not that he’s jealous or guarding a resource, it’s that when the energy gets too high your dog’s balance circuitry takes over and he’s fighting to preserve his “standing.” This is going to sound strange, but you have to attract that same “nasty energy” and that same explosive surge from your dog and direct it to you in order to resolve it. I’m not recommending you do this, you need experience, but I just want you to consider this because it will at some point make sense to you. Another way of saying this is that you have to be the one to take the “electrostatic charge” off of your dog, and then invest it in an object of your choosing, and then the dog can learn that wow, fighting-with-you is what gives me all my energy. That’s what I’m teaching Laszlo in the way I’m “playing” tug with him. Only you the owner can turn an instinct into a feeling, the other dogs can’t (unless we let everyone run free and then they would indeed come up with an instinctual stand in for their moose) and playing with other dogs is ultimately frustrating if it doesn’t lead to consummation of a group trigger. Because your dog gets to discharge its electrostatic charge onto other dogs, he does experience relief and this then becomes his definition of success. Whereas you have to become a more intense negative than the other dog standing over the toy, and then through occupying this polarity you are leading the dog to success and this defines a new way of feeling connected to a group. The first part of intensity is what Cesar Millan does very well and why the dominance paradigm never loses market share, but then he fails to articulate and in many cases implement, the second component. Neil Sattin has written on his site my premise of answering the question, Where’s the danger? which addresses this issue. I’ll try to write about it as well on these pages soon.

  16. kbehan says:

    There is no such thing in nature as fairness, sharing or being nice. These then must reflect a human intellectual denial of nature and our dogs will pick up these denials just as surely as they can pick up our love. After all, what more could one ask of a best friend? (A best friend is the one who tells us the truth, not the one we have the most fun with.) Dogs then point these denials out through their behaviors and their personality by virtue of running into conflict with other dogs that are carrying a like-denial. The point of the friction is to differentiate each other so that the underlying unresolved energy (denial) can be put back into motion and thereby resolved. In a completely natural context with all the time and space in the world, this would factor out into a cooperatively functioning social unit that has nothing to do with fairness, sharing and being nice. These are thoughts relative to the human condition of guilt that gum up the natural mechanism by which emotion works. If a relationship with a dog is based on desire, like a winning teams desire to win, then every member differentiates according to the role that best services the resolution of that desire. So that in a nutshell is Natural Dog Training which revolves around the dog’s nature, and which is answered by the simple question, what does a dog want? They don’t want fairness, sharing or nice, they want their passion (i.e. energy) to be fulfilled. Passion-in-common (rather than nice/sharing/fairness) leads to com-passion. So when we meet someone who shares our passion, we can play emotional ping pong and easily differentiate around that shared energy. Whereas being nice or fair or sharing for the sake of sharing doesn’t in the long run add up to be anything and in fact increases a charge which makes it more difficult to flip polarity in order to fit with others. Hope this addresses your question, thanks.

  17. April Hannon says:

    Hi Kevin,this is naomi, I have quick question ,do you mean to say there is no such thing as a naturally protective dog?I’m reading a dog breed book and of course they describe a dogs”temperment”.I know that there are alot of human characteristics put on dogs, but is being naturally protective one of them?I have read your deinition for temperment and I definitly understand its not any near what the’re calling ”temperment”. PS.I’m reading THE ORININAL DOG BIBLE

  18. kbehan says:

    There is only one drive, the drive-to-make-contact. There is no drive to protect anything because protecting someone or something is a thought. However, if a dog is blocked from making contact with something it is bonded with, which is what’s happening when someone is attacking a dog’s owner, than depending on its temperament, it will summon up reserve energy to maintain contact to that to which it’s bonded. This means bringing to ground the villain. (This is also why dogs that become unnerved by their owner’s seizures feel better when they are lying down as well.) While this can indeed serve to protect someone, nevertheless the dog doesn’t have the conscious intention of protecting anyone. While at first what I’m saying sounds clinical, cold, detached and mechanical, nothing could be further from the truth. Because dogs go by feel, and a feeling is energy, (you can’t feel a thought) they feel as if their owner is their “self” and this means that the “protective” response is built into the nature of energy itself and this is actually far more sublime and magical than the romantic notion of a dog riding to the rescue.

  19. April Hannon says:

    So this is why any dog can be ”protective”makes perfect sense!But why should certain ”guarding breeds” be so ”protective”?I know they used to clip a couple the neopolitan mastiffs(my sisters favorite breed,she loves the way they look)toes so they could’nt run far,so I coul definitly see how they could have a huge reserve to let out when they actually made contact.I also want to ask a question about our dog Denny, he becomes virtually impossilbe for me ,Naomi (straining ang choking himself ,pulling extremely hard)to walk ,if April goes up ahead of us,he will not do this if I walk ahead and April is holding the leash,though if someone else in our family (they have never paid him any real positive attention, so to me its perfectly understandable)is walking him and I walk ahead he will pull to get to me.So the question is do I make him feel unsafe or does he feel more connected to April?

  20. kbehan says:

    All animals have the same Temperament with a “T” just as all plants have the same photosynthesizing capacity. Now my use of the term Temperament is idiosyncratic to be sure, but I believe it’s actually more consistent with a unified approach to behavior and evolution. Temperament with a “T” turns energy into information, temperament with a “t” orients the individual to either the predator or prey polarity as the first order of information. At any rate, all dogs have the same Temperament, but it varies according to temperament, i.e. which pole or “spoke” on the “wheel” an individual gravitates to when stressed. So a dog that’s innately “protective” can feel a preyful essence (the center of the circle) in the situation despite a high rate of change and intense resistance. Thus they are aroused by the predatory aspect of the criminal rather than inhibited. Dogs with softer temperaments focus mostly on the predatory aspect of the situation and may lose the ability to sustain focus altogether, as does happen with most other species of animals. So canines are able to go by Temperament and respond with temperament whereas other animals revert to instinct or habits. Therefore it is possible for a Golden retriever to “protect” its owner in a crisis, however that same dog could nevertheless prove wholly unsuitable for protection work under any and all circumstances, hence, guard dog trainers weed them out.
    The question with Denny may be more complex. He may be more attracted to April and yet feel less secure by virtue of how much he is attracted to her, and hence he grows to be more dependent on her and therefore more susceptible to panic when he’s not physically connected to her. If there was no fear in the connection then physical separation wouldn’t be so traumatic and he could learn to quickly settle down when trained to heel. So it depends on how much fear he’s manifesting.

  21. shanty says:

    Thanks Kevin. I should take footage of the tug game so you can see how far we’ve come. I admit, I don’t handle strong emotions well myself so I can’t demand he move past me there 🙂
    Interestingly based on your comments to others here I agree that both the dog and I are more comfortable in open spaces. City behavior is socially demanding – out on the trails and dykes we meet a different kind of dog owner – just more laid back and ‘dogs will be dogs’.
    I wish I’d socialised him with those dogs instead of with owners who made me feel guilty for every ‘unpolite’ action or sound he made.

  22. shanty says:

    I went to Neil’s site looking for the article you referred too and came across his blogs on Socialization.
    I’ve read them before, but the simplicity of your approach is only finally starting to sink in.
    My dog likes other dogs and the fact that we meet dogs in non-dog park situations and he does fine perhaps means that playing is too intense right now – walking off leash in nature together is fullfilling enough and gives him positive experiences with other dogs.
    I also let him stay with an elderly friend on her farm and without any ‘training’ he chases off intruders (dogs/coyotes etc) – welcomes friends (and their dogs) and never leaves the property and is never tied up.
    After looking for the ‘perfect’ training method I almost feel it’s come full circle to the most instinctual method – much closer to how we used to raise dogs before all the hype.

  23. Neil says:

    Hey everyone. Great discussion going on here (as always). Shanty, I wanted to give you the links for the articles that Kevin mentioned.


    Enjoy, and I look forward to your feedback.

  24. kbehan says:

    Yes, what I’m saying is so incredibly simple it’s hard to get our complex minds around it. We have to learn to see again through a child’s eyes and keep our adult mind from leaping to its instinctual way of interpreting nature. Keep on pushing!

  25. Shanty says:

    Thanks to both of you.
    Neil – I read the articles and actually see some parallels to activities we have done – I’ll fill you in on your site.
    Kevin – again, thanks. Since understanding our relationship with dogs helps us get closer to nature (or a natural life) ourselves, I enjoy hearing your theories and trying to see how they apply.

  26. Shanty says:

    I wanted to post video of us playing tug – it’s a bit awkward since I’m holding the camera AND playing so I give up trying to grab the second tug toy when he takes off with the other. I also get my hand in his teeth 🙂
    However, for a dog that a few months ago would always let go when I pulled gently I love it that he leaps at the tug toy and runs to push it into me!–V38

  27. AZDogerman says:

    I want my dog to self-regulate her conflicts. So I have a few questions with these goals in mind:

    1.) Can I help my dog and other dogs differentiate better from each other? For instance, if she were wearing a training vest that was in contrast to her coat would this help her and other dogs of “like mind” to differentiate from each other?

    I notice that CM uses pack-backs a lot to help dogs walk on-lead. He says “Dogs love jobs”. It doesn’t seem to me like a dog would automatically see wearing a back-pack as a “job” especially because there is no overcoming of resistance in a weighted pack. Does a weighted pack “smooth out” some of the dogs electric energy by virtue of stimulating the top-line? Or creating gait changes that are smoother?

    2.) If dogs are attracted to other dogs of “like-mind” this implies that through cementing “negative (my eyes) as access to positive” that my dog will resolve deep stress and then be less attracted to dogs who are stressed out because they embody a resistance that can be overcome through conflict? In one memorable spat between my dog and another that lasted about 1 minute of non-stop chase/ inhibited biting, the other dog ran to its owner in a very “cowed” manner at which point my dog came back to me utterly exhausted and relaxed.

    3.) In “Calming Signals” Rugaas States: “Licking is another signal that is used often. Especially by black dogs, dogs with a lot of hair around their faces, and others who´s facial expressions for some reasons are more difficult to see than those of dogs with lighter colors, visible eyes and long noses.” I was curious as to your explanation of this.. do dogs learn that some behaviors reduce conflict and others don’t? For instance, would a black dog start out in his interactions by using facial expressions that weren’t received by another dog and then he would modify until he found one that was transmitted? Rugaas says that if a dog is attacked while displaying calming signals that they might learn that they don’t work and then become aggressive/defensive but in her black dog example it seems like the natural progression would be one of learning through negative consequences and only until all signals had been extinguished by negative learning then would the dog become very aggressive/defensive. However, if the black dog somehow “knew” to only offer signals that transmitted from birth, then would these signals be genetic, or part of the personality-as-shaped-by-drive? I am very interested in this line of inquiry, perhaps you could could write your interpretation of the domesticated fox experiment where the coats turned color and ears got floppy as a result of breeding for “friendliness”. I know this is a lot of questioning but unfortunately, I am hooked on NDT!

  28. kbehan says:

    1) The back pack could be a good idea not because of the “job,” but because of the differentiation as you note, and also because it puts the dog in its body and does stimulate the whole body dimension, and finally deflects owners’ attention off of dog-as-person syndrome so dog doesn’t feel as much pressure from its owner.
    2) When a dog gives its owner “all its energy” then it gains the capacity to discriminate as to what others are feeling. So it will not be charged by other dogs that hold that same charge so as to bring it to the surface. It will be able to feel the other dog’s charge (dog is trying to hold this back and this is revealed in its body language and tail set) and it won’t feel good so it won’t want to trigger it. Whereas when it’s consumed with its own charge, it’s compelled to put its wet nose into that hot socket. In the incident you’ve described, the other dogs “charge” eventually ran back to its source for replenishment, and so your dog was able to relieve its charge as well. The problem is that if the charge isn’t resolved, it just trickles right back in and the need remains.
    3) The whole idea of transmitting signals is incorrect. What’s going on in a dog’s mind is that it is choosing to focus on a particular part of its own body and this is how it forms an association. It references that part of its body as the key to understanding the moment. So licking of lips (can be expression of nervousness) but is focusing on the hunger circuitry and gut region, trying to pull-in energy, whereas in contrast growling is focusing on the balance circuitry and head region (particularly inner ear) and trying to push-out energy. When a dog is pushing out energy, it’s difficult if not dangerous for another dog to approach it. When a dog is puling in energy it’s easy if not safe to approach. There’s no true signaling going on, it’s an energy dynamic that both dogs are built to respond to innately, and so it appears as if there is signaling with some degree of cognition. To understand this directly, consider how you FEEL when talking to someone who is truly listening (they’re pulling you in) versus someone who is not listening (they’re pushing you back either by being a passive reflector, or pushing out words faster than you can transmit them). It’s the exact same emotional dynamic.
    My experience with black dogs is that if that color is a recessive trait for the breed, (GSD), they tend to be more nervous and hence might lick more, although I’m not quite sure what you mean by licking. Licking another dog is absorbing their essence and is part of grounding and not at all nervousness.
    Rolling over can be a form of emotional overload, but one that grants the top line some grounding which is why it is also integral to pure pleasure, and if an overload indicates energy being held back and this can incite some dogs to attack further because they are getting an intensification of the preyful value of that dog, with the predatory aspect minimized. Most dogs on the other hand would feel grounded into the preyfulness of the belly up dog because they can hold the predatory aspect in mind at the same time and come up with a social value, and so we call that a turn off/appeasement signal which is okay as a description, but is a serious error if it’s considered a definition.
    So if a dog goes belly up and is attacked, it will learn either generally to approaching dogs (if temperament is soft) or specifically to that kind of dog in that kind of circumstance (if temperament is hard, for example with a very young dog that’s in a situation over its head) that referencing that part of its body, (pulling in energy through top line connecting to its genitals), produced the attack. Therefore it will tend to flip polarity later on so that it will now when charged, push-out-from-muzzle. If it becomes successful at pushing out and inducing other dog to flip its polarity and become preyful, then it can get addicted to attacking other dogs. If it learned a very specific lesson, it may get very rough in play with softer dogs and only fight the dog that’s holding a charge.
    With the foxes, they weren’t actually selecting for friendliness, but were regressing them back to “social stem cell” of infant canine puppies. But because foxes lack the high prey threshold of wolves, they aren’t able to be domesticated ala the dog because they lack the drive that high prey threshold wolf part of canine spectrum imprints onto domesticated dog. As in all things with dogs and science, the experiment actually proves the opposite of what it has been used to support, i.e. that friendliness and approachability has something to do with domestication.

  29. Heather says:

    –“Licking is another signal that is used often. Especially by black dogs, dogs with a lot of hair around their faces, and others who´s facial expressions for some reasons are more difficult to see —

    My particular hairy, black dog with dark eyes doesn’t show these “calming signals” to other dogs.

    When I am out with Happy and an unknown dog barks at him (a loose dog, or from behind a fence, in a yard, or on a leash), his reaction is to stop dead and stare silently at the dog. Often he’ll sit down. He stays this way until the barking dog shifts its attention to sniffing, or walking away, or whatever. Then Happy will refocus on me like nothing happened and continue to walk. Sometimes I feel awkward, because the barking dog’s owner may be staring at me, wondering why the heck am I standing there doing nothing, while my dog is driving their dog bonkers. Once a guy in his underwear came running down the driveway screaming at his dog (and me), and I simply wanted to get the heck out of there, but Happy was not moving, not reacting, not even aware of anything else but that dog.

    He will also sometimes do this if he sees people approaching from a distance (like if we are walking on our country road, and someone else is walking toward us in the distance). With people and non-barking dogs, when they get close he would want to approach them if it was up to him.

  30. christine randolph says:

    would licking other dogs be different from licking the owner ?
    i felt recently that one of my dogs is licking us so much because she is hyper-friendly. when I have been away from her for more than 10 minutes, she literally throws herself at me and licks my face for several minutes.

    is that another way of giving the owner all her energy ?

    I think there are dogs who do not want to avoid a fight. my border collie is one of them, and she is a huge resource guarder, so depending on another dog’s inclination,

    a- when another bitchy dog comes up they get in a fight.
    b- when a dog comes up who wishes to avoid a fight, no fight.
    c- when a dog comes up that can get the better of her, she gets put in her place.
    ( i wish there were more of those…)

    so, big trouble if the other dog also wants to fight. it is impossible to see that at first sight though…
    always wary of that.

    my dog also lies down when she sees another dog approaching, like Happy. i think this is hunting behaviour. the next step with my dog is running to the dog at full speed, sniff them out and bark a little…she sometimes likes to stare down other animals, that is intimidation i think…

  31. Heather says:

    Happy doesn’t lie down, but if the barking dog is behind a fence, or super small (small dogs go into barking frenzies upon just seeing him, even if he doesn’t glance their way), he sits down. If it is a large dog (I am thinking of the Beauceron down the street that sometimes escapes her backyard fence and comes charging down her driveway as we walk by her front yard), he stops and stands still. My flight instinct kicks in, although that would just make us prey.

  32. christine randolph says:

    ha ! i never get scared of strange dogs, just scared that Betsy might get into a fight.
    I guess I should be more scared of dogs I do not know.

    I am an idiot.

    my little dog barks like a moron when she is off leash on the side walk – and sees people or people with dogs on leash, especially when they are near our property or walking towards it.

    it is embarrassing.

    when my dogs are at that trail where all dogs are off leash, it seems fine…

    when my little dog is on a leash, no problem with moronic barking…

    when she wants to play with a large dog, she goes up to them, does something annoying to them and then runs of squealing like a stuck pig so they will chase her but not hurt her.

    most owners get a fright because they think their HUGE dog bit my little one and this is why she is squealing. I have to calm them down
    tell them this is her favourite game
    that the squealing is pre-emptive and part of the game. (…she is sooo disturbed, poor thing but having fun with it…)

    I wonder if Happy would play with little dogs or attack them ?

  33. Heather says:

    –I wonder if Happy would play with little dogs or attack them —

    I doubt very much that an attack would happen, but I will never know, because I go by the “30 pound difference” rule–if Happy is more than 30 pounds heavier than another dog, they don’t play. I have friends with smaller dogs and we sometimes walk together…but I don’t want to be sued if a little dog is injured even accidentally.

    A small dog may have its back or legs broken from a 120 pound dog lying on it or swiping at it with a big paw. Or what if Happy picked the dog up like a toy and shook it by the neck?

    Also, most small dogs that we have never met are terrified of Happy. The owners are sometimes not sensitive to that, and would force the dogs into uncomfortable situations because Happy looks so docile. His looks are deceiving – he is in fact very sweet and easy going, but when he plays, which he is always up for, he is very active, coordinated, and powerful, and he loves, loves, loves to roughhouse.

  34. kbehan says:

    The natural order of things is that little dog “controls” big dog. So have Happy with little dog and with a handy place for little dog to scurry under if Happy gets too excited, and then little dog learns it has emotional leverage and begins to practice emotional jujitsu on Happy and now all the stars are in their right place. The little dog has to be old enough, and not cranky, for this to be a good experience for all.

  35. Heather says:

    Little dogs are certainly much faster and would leave Happy in the dust. If I find a willing owner with a friendly small dog I’ll try it!

    I wonder if it is the same with kids? Happy responds to the kids very well.

  36. christine randolph says:

    yay ! I think Happy would be OK with a little dog, but then I am far away and do not have to become nervous when I watch the encounter

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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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