Mark's Questions

Since my answers became lengthy I posted them as an article. Thanks for great questions. Mark’s questions are in quotes and I placed my answer after an asterisk.

“I think you mentioned previously that when the moose calls the wolves always come running. Can you explain that a bit further? How does the moose call and why do the wolves always come running?”

**Allow me a little poetic license to make the point of wolves responding to the moose, although I do mean it literally. Wolves are always “charged” by the sight of a moose no matter what else is going on and so therefore it has captured their attention and this is the first element in commanding a dog to come to its name. Since this charge travels all the way down to their “emotional center-of-gravity,” which is exactly where the sound of a dog’s name reaches, therefore the degree of displacement that a moose can engender is in fact, exactly the same as a dog hearing its name when called. So because the moose can reliably transmit “the charge” it is therefore “in charge.” If the moose doesn’t act like prey then the wolves can’t act like predator. So whenever it’s available to be chased which it transmits through its carriage and deportment, the wolves always come running.

“Also you said “since there is only one emotion, only one want and only one drive”. I take it this is the drive to make contact?”

**Emotion, want, feeling and drive-to-make-contact go together like this.
There is only one emotion, a monolithic pull of attraction when the body/mind is displaced by any perception of change. The degree of displacement equals the force of attraction. But, attraction invariably meets with resistance and this causes unresolved emotion, or stress, and this doesn’t go away but accumulates and is stored in the body/mind which serves as an emotional battery. Stress can only get out the way it went in, and this makes it “form sensitive” by which I mean it potentiates the brain to see things in terms of the form of that which caused it to be formed. So when the circumstances surrounding the original attraction that was not consummated is revisited, stress will be activated as well and now we have Drive. Drive is emotion plus stress and this contributes force to the dynamic as well as a level of information, i.e. the ascertaining of a focal point for the energy, “the negative” or predatory aspect.

If as the dog goes forward in drive, it then experiences a degree of resistance to the drive-to-make-contact, this resistance is converted by its Temperament into sexual energy by arousing the hunger circuitry. The hunger circuitry is aroused because the Temperament can apprehend the preyful essence of the thing. If the arousal is strong enough, the dog projects its emotional center-of-gravity (the deepest core layer of stress) into the object of attraction and this now becomes a feeling and a new level of information, i.e. an angle of deflection (sexual energy as a magnetic-like influence). Therefore the dog doesn’t Drive in to the object of attraction in a straightforward manner, but rather in a circumspective manner, and yet unlike an instinct that encounters resistance, it doesn’t suffer any loss of emotional momentum, and in fact can be aroused even more. And if the two parties in the engagement become conductive enough to the other, in other words the rhythmic frequency of their syncopated movements can channel all the built up intensity/stress that they each carry, then a state of emotional suspension is induced and whatever the object of attraction does, imparts more energy and more information to the other, specifically, what the object of attraction is feeling. (This transfer of information is possible because all animals have the same basic emotional makeup; species of animals vary according to emotional capacity at which point instincts take over and these then lock each species into its environmental niche.) This platform then allows the two parties in the interaction to differentiate into polar opposites, in the beginning as prey/predator, and then if it evolves further, male/female, and ultimately over the long run, highly differentiated personality traits. So at the most basic level, if the moose doesn’t act like prey, the group can’t act like predators and at the higher end of the energy spectrum, we observe that any two dogs that live together become equal and yet opposites in all things, save one. What we characterize as their personality.

There is only one want, the flow of energy. There is only one true feeling, resonating with a want, and this feels good. No matter what we want, an ice cream cone, a new pony or a mustang convertible, when we experience having it, the good feeling is always the same. The Drive to attain what we want is always the same. The experience of resistance between us and a want is always the same. They vary only in terms of strength.

”Also if food does not work as reinforcer, via operant conditioning, in teaching and rewarding behaviour i.e. a simple sit, why and how does the dog happen to end up learning the correct response to the command?”

** When a dog wants food, it projects its “self” into the complex object of attraction, i.e. the person holding the food: and the degree of projection is proportionate to the degree of hunger. The eyes of the person penetrate to the dog’s emotional center-of-gravity via the alimentary canal (the first primal emotional pathway). The emotional center-of-gravity is through Pavlovian conditioning associated with the body’s physical center of gravity, this constitutes a dog’s sense of “self.” Because the dog is attracted to the food, the alimentary canal dilates, and because the food is held overhead, the dog feels a push of energy traveling down the open alimentary canal just as if an internal magnet is being pushed down by an external magnet (handler holding food), and the dog will feel an urge to press its butt into the ground in order to “ground” this surge of energy, in other words it feels a pull between its butt and the ground in response to this push of energy, just as it feels a pull to a specific spot in the yard in order to push out a surge of energy in the act of elimination. No other species of animal but the dog can “flip polarity” in this way and become the South Pole to the handler as North Pole (by virtue of handler holding the food and thereby being construed as access channel to the food) which other animals should be able to do if it is meaningful to say that dogs sit for food because they associate sitting with getting a treat and that food is a reinforcer in and of itself. One can also see how the same dynamic is involved in the ease with which one can house train a dog.

The formation of an association is dependent on how the emotional dynamic works within the dog. Emotion as a pull of attraction which then “ionizes” the body/mind via the projection of the emotional center-of-gravity, and this induces feelings as a push/pull so that there is a universal template around which social interactions can organize.

”You also said “Dogs seemingly become non-food motivated, even though all healthy puppies are obviously food motivated, only because they go on to experience during the course of their maturation other forms of resistance that then become their definition of aligning within a group”. What sort of resistance do they go onto experience? How do these experiences affect a pups development? What do you think about the critical or sensitive socialisation periods and what is natural dog trainings thoughts and processes on raising a puppy?”

**The form of a thing contains energy, and this form therefore equals resistance to obtaining that energy. A carrot contains energy, but to obtain its energy the form of the carrot has to be broken down by chewing it up and subjecting it to gastric juices and digestive enzymes. Thus, any object of attraction that is in form, such as another dog, a person, deer, rabbit, etc. is an object of resistance. So, making contact with anything in order to obtain or exchange energy means overcoming resistance that is inherent in the form of the thing. In the beginning, puppies don’t have an emotional battery. They are virtually pure expressions of Temperament which is why they are all alike in the beginning. As they experience resistance to getting what they want during the process of maturation, they become more ionized and begin to differentiate to a genetically determined resting place on Temperament as a circle. They each orient to this specific pole which is respective to the others’ in their litter as a way of coping with resistance. This organizes the many into a group manner of orientation. They still have the entire circle in their genetic makeup, Temperament with a capital “T” but they orient to a specific slice of the spectrum because they feel most comfortable at this pole when in the presence of the other members of the group, their temperament with a lower case “t.” However if one of the group is removed, the others will shift to reestablish a symmetrical arrangement. Therefore Temperament is not static and is dynamically responsive to environmental and temperamental circumstances.

During the course of its development, the most intense experience of resistance becomes the organizing principle of the dog’s behavior and this is more powerful than so-called critical and socialization periods. I think these latter concepts have some validity, as does a genetic makeup, but have been overly emphasized as if they are insurmountable. So for a young pup, getting food from its mother with all the jostling going on, not to mention coping with the weighted-ness of life on planet earth after two months of gestation suspended in a womb of amniotic fluid, is a huge dose of resistance. But as it matures this will evolve into other more complex forms of resistance that will be overcome through synchronized group action, such as car rides or chasing deer that can never be caught, and so a bowl of food loses its resistance value as an organizing principle for the average dog (unless that is the dog becomes food defensive).

The main thing about raising a puppy, is to ensure that its Temperament survives into adulthood so that it can readily flip polarity in order to smoothly adjust to ever changing circumstances, rather than respond with instinct or with habit. Temperament turns Stress into Sexual energy in service to Drive.

Published October 6, 2009 by Kevin Behan

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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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