Moving the Pile and Shifting the Paradigm

Under the Frequently Asked Questions Department:

Many trainers think that because I”m arguing for a new paradigm this means they have to throw their training regime wholesale out the window.

“Give me a reason to throw almost three years of training out the window to try your method. How many dogs have you titled with this method?”

Modern trainers may not realize it, but they may already be standing on a pile that has shifted over the years due to Natural Dog Training. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the working dog people are using techniques I invented in the eighties.  I don’t know if someone else invented these independently elsewhere, but I was teaching them in police dog seminars for about ten years and now I see them in common usage. I was led toward these techniques by my understanding that there is only one drive, that it is in service to synchronizing group action for the hunt, and that the group aligns around the feeling of potential energy. In other words, a dog learns to self-moderate not out of deference to an external voice of authority, or due to an association, but rather because it can feel potential energy by going in a new direction, and therefore it becomes willing to learn a new response because it’s not experiencing any loss of emotional momentum even when it must hold itself back in the short term. For example, I began to use two sleeves to teach police and protection dogs to “out.” The dog didn’t learn to let go because his handler commanded to do so per se, but because letting go meant more energy, ergo the second sleeve that it then got to bite. Also, in those days police trainers taught their dog the call off, meaning they would send their dog after a criminal but be able to call it off midway if they saw the need. But this put an emotional kink in their dog’s performance and you could see the dog slowing up rather than running hellbent after the criminal because he could feel that his handler was about to interrupt his drive. So I taught the exercise by having a dog on a long lead and dragging the handler toward the fleeing helper. At some point the handler would gradually slow and increase resistance to the point where he would stop, all the while without saying a word. Meanwhile depending on the dog, the fleeing helper would either run in place or duck behind a nearby blind, and this at some point prompted the dog to look back at its handler. At this moment the handler issued a command and immediately directed the dog to the emergence of a second helper now fleeing 180 degrees away from the first helper, thus taking the dog toward its handler. The dog then learned to come off a fleeing person without hesitation and only if it heard the command from its handler. Another technique I used to teach at seminars was putting the sleeve on a long line as its introduction to the hard sleeve, especially effective at helping the young or the softer dogs with its introduction and to build up any dogs’ civil arousal toward a helper not wearing the sleeve. At any rate, no matter who was the first to develop such ideas, these and other techniques that are the mainstay of working dogs’ work are only logically consistent with the NDT energy paradigm.

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Published January 20, 2011 by Kevin Behan

9 responses to “Moving the Pile and Shifting the Paradigm”

  1. Christine says:

    Now I’m beginning to understand the sled dog conundrum a little clearer. Isn’t this also known/referred to as a redirect?

  2. kbehan says:

    I don’t favor the term redirect since it implies a clinical and/or mental linear process. Re-channeling is far more accurate because it denotes that emotion as energy has to run according to a prescribed principle of conductivity to attain a point of satisfaction. A dog can’t “redirect” if its emotion can’t move freely to a point of satisfaction.

  3. Christine says:

    Understood. Same thing only different! lol The con to using your preferred term, imho, is that most people would equate it with the “new-agey” philosophy and so might miss the translation entirely; just sayin’…

  4. Christine says:

    An alternative could be “internal redirect” or some such?

  5. kbehan says:

    You’re right that the risk in talking precisely about behavior, which therefore means defining it terms of energy, is that the New Agey charge will be leveled against it (even though quantum physics is pretty New Agey if you ask me). But the problem becomes when not speaking precisely is that all the terms end up being an oxymoron, such as dominance instinct, which is it, a thought or a reflex? So “internal redirect” presupposes that the phenomenon of experience is clearly divided in the animal mind between that which is going on internally relative to that which is going on externally. Thus, I believe that we’re best served by speaking precisely and we will just have to slough off the critique (which will always be something) until the research catches up to the immediate-moment theory of emotion as energy.

  6. Christine says:

    Yes, I see the dichotomy you speak of. Looks like I’ll have to get used to using/thinking “re-channeling” in place of redirect. I’m always (usually) up for a challenge; it will take my brain a bit to catch-up, though! lol It’ll probably be easier in the long run, perhaps even sooner and easier than I imagine. I’ll have to practice making a mental note when watching the Ambassador Pack; then at least it will be fun‼♥

  7. kbehan says:

    Once you become familiar with seeing it in everyday situations, the terms will feel real and you will see that it’s the most concrete and down-to-earth way of speaking of animal behavior.

  8. Christine says:

    Thank you sensai

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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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