Pleasure Creates Social

The Pleasure Principle IS Group Circuitry

Occasionally Lee and I get involved in debates with behavioral scientists or at least those that seem to be well informed on the science of behavior since they post anonymously, and the back and forth follows a predictable course that ultimately doesn’t get anywhere because apparently I don’t have any data. I thought I had pretty good data, i.e. the things we see dogs do everyday. But the question persists, and it is at face value a reasonable one, how could a few dog trainers be right about an energetic logic as the basis for learning and complex social behavior, and which stands in complete contradiction with what the very best minds in science have determined? Why, if an energy theory of behavior is so comprehensive and accurate, hasn’t science arrived at the same conclusion? Well, it has, it just doesn’t know it yet.

By this I mean that science is inexorably moving in the direction of an energy theory and there are indications of it emerging everywhere but first it needs to be pointed out. For example, I have caught several episodes of the series “The Human Spark” hosted by Alan Alda. In it some major tenets of the theory are verified by the latest in behavioral experiments and brain research (for example; the human mind processes the ability to entertain another person’s point-of-view, and a point-of-view in the future, in the same region in the brain, and this is a structure animals lack. This is exactly my definition of a “thought,” the basis for how the human intellect constructs a view of reality, the intellect as a “relativity” machine that makes it different from animal consciousness.) Hopefully I will be able to obtain some clips of the various experiments featured on the program and then I will post them with an energy reinterpretation allowing one to decide for themselves which interpretation seems the most reasonable. The “Human Spark” also emphasizes the point that it’s reflexive in the human mind to project intention into everything, even inanimate objects; a proclivity present in young infants. In my view this intellectual reflex is precisely what blinds science to the self-evidence of an energy theory: such notions of competition, survival, territoriality, genes replicating for the sake of their replication, learning by way of reinforcement; are all complex derivatives of this instinctual reflex. Because of this behavioral theory gets more and more complex and based on human reason so that it can’t connect the dots with the research that’s already in hand and which the behavior of dogs and the manner by which they learn reveals every day.

For the last six months I’ve been trying to put enough information on this site to develop the model more fully. And while this will continue because we’re just getting started, however I want to shift my focus toward creating a section that will feature a series of pictures and/or videos to put the model directly into action by learning how to see the energy through the actual behavior of dogs and animals. Also, I hope to flesh out the training/method section more fully for the practical benefit of these understandings.

However, in answer to the question posed above, why is an energy theory considered anti-scientific? in the following article and from time to time I will bring the reader’s attention to an experiment or book that’s directly speaking to an energy model, even though it might not explicitly recognize it as such. One such book that I ran across while searching the web for Darwin’s illustrations of dogs and emotional expression (the subject of a future article on the “principle of antithesis”), is entitled “With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality” by Paul R. Abramson and Steven D. Pinkerton. I haven’t read the book but have excerpted some important points from some on-line reviews that I think boil the book down succinctly, with the link provided below. My point with this kind of article is that the data for an energy theory is already in hand, we just need to connect the dots. One such linkage is my thesis (which at first might seem radical) that the mechanics and emotional basis of human love-making is identical to canine prey-making. This is relevant because it shows the universal aspects of emotion as the basis for a networked-intelligence, the logic of which is the basis of the animal mind and the manner by which it learns.

One of the most difficult notions for the current marketplace to accept, and which impairs the advancement of the NDT theory and method in the current climate of the modern marketplace, is the idea of sexuality as a social positive, and which I then further argue is actually information as in the form of animal magnetism that informs animals how to self-organize into social structures. Curiously behaviorism has no problem regarding sexuality in a positive light when it comes to Bonobos, but in truth this seeming openness is really in service to a political agenda (From the book notes I suspect that “With Pleasure” is going to muddle itself as well because by not being an energy theory, it will entangle itself in surface political ax-grinding as well.) rather than straight science because behaviorism and biology does a telling abrupt about turn over the issue of neutering in canines.

In 1978 I recognized the direct linkage between the prey drive and the sexual impulse through a remark that Bernhard Mannel made to me: (“The only way one can appreciate the canine prey making drive is through the human sexual drive.”). Upon reflection it then became obvious to me that sexual energy results from the predatory impulse meeting resistance and yet the individual can still perceive the preyful essence at the same time. (Whereas if it can’t perceive the preyful essence: then the feeling collapses and instincts/habits take over and that’s the end of the elaboration process that potentially could have resulted in a state of social alignment.) Thus, when the emotional energy the “predator” (anything projecting emotion onto something, is acting from the predatory aspect of its being, even a bunny rabbit, and this is also why most animals only manifest predatory reflexes and aggression in regards to breeding because that’s the only time they can hold the predatory and preyful aspect in mind at the same time due to hormones, and which then justifies the old paradigm view of neutering as socially calming) is projecting onto an object of attraction, is then reflected back to it by the predatory aspect of the object of attraction (its head/eyes), this internalized energy of stress is then converted into sexual energy by virtue of feeling grounded via the preyful essence into said object of attraction, and this energy is then internally displaced into other areas of the body so that the individual becomes sensually polarized. Now when two individuals move around each other, this animal magnetism releases a sense of pleasure in affected body parts (due to where they perceive their emotional-center-of-gravity) and this is a group circuit which will serve as a physical memory for alignment on sight. And this is not for purposes of procreation but for creation, i.e. to facilitate more and more complex manners of alignment (social structure) in order to create new energy. So the highest expression of sexuality is a sensual state of attunement with an object of attraction so that in tandem neuro-chemical energy in both brains, affects them as if they are magnetized and which thereby enmeshes them into a new emotional dynamic system, two magnets becoming one electromagnetic dynamo.

Since the primary property of energy is to do work, this electromagnetic dynamo is simultaneously the means by which the individuals attune to their surroundings, and in canines, enables the capacity to hunt a prey they couldn’t overwhelm singly or even in numbers but rather through the communication of energy, i.e. “the charge.”
This also means that the secondary purpose of sexuality is recreation, the simple pleasure of tactile contact which I suppose is the focus of the book “With Pleasure,” and which facilitates bonding for the purposes of cementing more and more complex expressions of sociability. Lastly, the business of procreation is not only, not fundamental, but rather is merely the tertiary function of sexuality which is of course necessary so that genes replicate and create the physical hardware necessary to implement more and more complex expressions of sociability.

In short, the experience of pleasure is integral to creating the group dynamic so that the many minded become but one mind.

So in 1978 because I was learning how to not project human thoughts into what dogs were doing, which means that I was developing an energy theory for why dogs do what they do, it became obvious to me that human sexuality was likewise the direct derivative of the predator/prey dynamic as well. In other words, the prey/predator module was the main conduit for the transmission of emotional energy be it between predator and prey, male and female, peer to peer, parent to offspring, child to teddy bear, and then this primal means of transfer and medium for synchronization, elaborates into complex social structures. The higher the emotional capacity of a species, the greater its sexual nature and the greater its sexual nature, the more it can project its “self” across the species divide and create trans-species emotional bonds and social ways of living, dogs and humans being the highest examples of this capacity that’s ever evolved between any two species. This book “With Pleasure” is halfway to seeing this connection, and it’s only halfway because it doesn’t yet recognize that the experience of pleasure through the phenomenon of emotional projection and the principle of emotional conductivity, is the organizing principle of animal consciousness and the basis of all behavior and so therefore precedes any genetic agenda for replication, it doesn’t follow from it. In other words, emotion and the experience of pleasure as the implementation of the principle of emotional conductivity is the basis of evolution, it did not evolve from evolution.

Nevertheless this is a huge breakthrough because for the first time that I’m aware of modern science is entertaining the premise that the foremost purpose of sexuality isn’t procreation. So dear reader if you sometimes think that you must walk the plank of intellectual rationality by subscribing to NDT theory and method, it might be helpful to remember that “Natural Dog Training” presaged not only the demise of the dominance theory, but the compelling thesis of this book “With Pleasure” by several decades. (Also note that the book cover is particularly interesting, picture of woman biting a man’s ear, i.e. “making prey.”)

I’ve included a number of blurbs that summarize the book’s thesis and to indicate that science is taking the thesis seriously, and then after these is a fuller review with link provided.

Quote from the book “With Pleasure”

“From the pristine vantage point of religious, political, and evolutionary doctrine, it is sometimes argued that the sole function of human sexuality is reproduction. As a consequence, non-reproductive expressions of sexuality are deemed illicit, immoral, or illogical. However, we believe the primacy of reproduction to be vastly overemphasized, and the insistence on procreation as the end-all of human sexuality to be inherently misguided.”

Challenging everything from the mandates of the Catholic Church to the hotly debated ethics of pornography, and from the controversy surrounding gay rights to issues of gender and feminism, With Pleasure explores a new theory of human sexuality that ignites every hot topic in the public domain. What role, authors Paul Abramson and Steven Pinkerton ask, does sexual pleasure play in our lives? Is the pursuit of sexual enjoyment in our blood? Our brains? Our very nature? Regardless of the source, it can be agreed that the joys of sex are widely appreciated. Why, then, is pleasure so often overlooked in discussions of sexual behavior, and why do cultural, historical, and religious treatises so often fail to emphasize, or outright ignore, this obvious aspect of human sexuality?
Responding to these and many other questions about our most private affairs, “With Pleasure” provides a profoundly original challenge to the cherished truisms of human sexuality. Abramson and Pinkerton proclaim the paramount importance of pleasure, while at the same time overthrowing traditional ideas about gender, pornography, contraception, homosexuality, abortion, and much more. Supported by rigorous research, With Pleasure argues that human sexuality cannot be understood if its significance is limited to reproduction alone. The authors posit that in humans reproduction itself occurs as a byproduct of pleasure–not the other way around–and that it is the strong drive for pleasure that makes people overcome many obstacles–and even life-threatening dangers such as AIDS–to have sex. Ranging from discussions about the church to current debates about pornography, and from evolutionary theory to questions about the future of sex and pleasure, Abramson and Pinkerton argue persuasively that the pleasurability of sex cannot be restricted to purely reproductive behavior.
Stimulating and informative and written with ample wit…. The authors’ central argument is that sex is for pleasure, not procreation, because it is usually pleasure that provides the motivating force for human sexual activity.”–Scientific American

“A fresh and theoretically enticing approach to the study of human sexuality….Sure to spark intense debate among those concerned with the study of human sexuality.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Abramson and Pinkerton amass an array of evidence that sexuality in all of its myriad manifestations is inherently pleasurable. Moreover, they argue that sex-as-pleasure is primary over sex-as-reproduction as the evolutionary and psychological motivator for seeking sexual outlets. Furthermore, they insist that embracing all consensual, adult sexuality will make sex safer and perpetuate the species but with increased pleasure. Thus, With Pleasure is a scholarly, provocative, and brave book that will both evoke discomfort in the sexual puritan and instill hope in the sexual liberal as it increases the tolerance of all to the celebration of sexual pleasure.”–Donald L. Mosher, Professor of Psychology, University of Connecticut

“With Pleasure is a thought-provoking, insightful examination that takes pleasure out of the closet and challenges us to rethink commonly-held assumptions about the nature of sexuality. It is a welcome addition to my library that I predict will drive public discussion and future academic research.”–Angela Pattatucci, Associate Investigator, National Institutes of Health

Humans evolved to have sex not only for procreation but for pleasure, argue Paul Abramson and Steven Pinkerton, the latter a native of Seattle. As social animals, we use it to enhance love, to make peace after fights, to relieve tension, for social advantage, for recreation and for income.
“Pleasure has evolutionary advantages,” said Abramson.

Natural and necessary

This distinction is important, they contend. If sex is seen only to produce offspring, then anything that does not contribute to that goal – oral and anal sex, masturbation, homosexuality, pornography and prostitution – can be seen as morally offensive, unnecessary and subject to censure, legal prohibition or religious injunction.
The psychologists theorize that humans, as social animals who choose mates for a variety of reasons, evolved sexual pleasure. Natural selection may have favored ancestors who developed pleasure centers –

Quote From Review:
“Abramson and Pinkerton discuss evidence from physiology, psychology, and culture in order to demonstrate that pleasure is not an irrelevant byproduct of the drive to procreate.”
“It is probably undeniable that pleasure originally developed in order to promote procreation — the more pleasurable an activity is, the more likely individuals are to engage in it. Those who have sex more will produce more offspring, and so the genes that make sex pleasurable get passed on.”
“That, however, is not the final word on how evolution operates. Traits that develop in order to meet one need can be co-opted to fulfill entirely different purposes. In the case of sexual pleasure, it turns out that this pleasure facilitates things such as interpersonal bonding, promoting interpersonal relationships, and reducing social tensions. These may not have been reasons why sexual pleasure developed, but they certainly helped ensure that it stayed with us and spread through the population. Today, perhaps, reproduction is simply a byproduct of sexual pleasure.”
“There is far more sex-for-pleasure than there is sex-for-reproduction, that is indisputable. It is because of this that one can conclude that, for homo sapiens at least, sex exists primarily for the sake of the pleasure it creates rather than the children which are only sometimes created.”
“It is because of this that Abramson and Pinkerton don’t merely present their observations about human sexuality; instead, they also advocate that we all develop a more realistic perspective on sexuality. We have been misled into thinking that sex is just about procreation, but once we recognize it for being about pleasure, we’ll be able to handle it better and live our lives a bit better.”

KB – – > I would like to hark back to the theory of Symbiogenesis which I mentioned elsewhere, the theory that new species are created when one organism is ingested by another and then its genetic material is assimilated rather than consumed. I believe that on the lowest forms of life this is one of the earliest physical embodiments of emotion moving through the predatory/prey module, and that this has continued to evolve into the complex emotional nature that is fully expressed in the sexual nature of animals. This distinction is important because it means that evolution isn’t a process of natural selection by way of random mutations that then produced pleasure as a function of gene replication, but rather pleasure is the principle by which genes mutate in concordance with shifts in the network and then replicate in order to implement itself.

In my book “Natural Dog Training” published in 1992, there is a chapter entitled “The Pleasure Principle.” It states:
“By grasping that pleasure in canines is defined in terms of the prey drive and is the means by which a canine can learn; we see that it isn’t a whimsical or casual state of being in the natural scheme of things. The pursuit of pleasure isn’t an act of hedonism or of selfish indulgence on the part of the individual and nor does it have much to do with trial and error. It only flows in accord with a pulse inherent in the drive to bite. It follows a specific rhythm that is time worn and deeply grooved by the genetic imprint the prey drive has etched in every canine’s temperament.”

“The group dynamic intrinsic to the pursuit of pleasure is incredibly important to us as dog owners for it is the basis of the canine’s ability to learn to cooperate.”
“However, in dogs and wolves there are other and more elaborate releasers which permit action than are to be found in frogs and perhaps any other species of predator – save man. For example, the form of a body, with a bulbous shape and a horizontal back line rather than a vertical line, attracts the drive to bite. And then finally, in the canine species there is available an additional class of emotional releasers which through domestication have been emphasized even further in the modern dog. Without these, which we’ll consider below, the wolf and the dog would be much less flexible in their range of responses to the outside world.”

“When canines are emotionally attracted to one of their own kind and yet there isn’t a releaser of motion to permit biting, they nevertheless remain attracted. The attraction doesn’t just dissipate and go away on its own. As they go forward through the impulse to bite, and they encounter resistance because the object of their ardor isn’t acting like prey, an amazing phenomenon occurs in two stages.”

“Right after the charge to bite is internalized, and right before it has the chance to shock the individual out of his biting impulse, the next phase occurs whereby the charge can next serve to arouse the individual sexually. As a result, emotional energy is diverted away from the jaws and radiates into the body arousing it, particularly of course in the genital area. Therefore, two canines interacting socially, even though they are attracted to each other through the prey/predator impulse, because it can’t come out through its primary avenue of expression, i.e. bite and grip, it is displaced into the sexual circuitry. Their bodies grow “polarized” so that they will position and realign themselves in response to this more complex urge quite like stacking batteries positive to negative ends in a flashlight. When so polarized, dogs studiously smell each other from top to bottom trying to ascertain where and how to “plug in.” A sexual attraction is a latent charge to bite, internalized and stored when the flow of raw emotion is deflected into social activity. This in turn produces all the leg lifting, nasal investigation, and sexual posturing to be observed within the wolf pack and between dogs. The sexual mechanism is how the simple prey instinct becomes the complex prey drive, sexual/sensuality being the means of making contact. The many become integrated into the one, a complex integration which it is vital to note, includes the prey animal as well. In other words, the sexual nature of canines allows for emotional energy to cross the species divide.”

“Often when puppies play and are observed mounting and thrusting with a pronounced pelvic action, it is interpreted in the Pack Theory as being a reflex occurring out of sequence in the normal adult context. It is recognized as a hallmark of immaturity. Presumably the puppy is working the kinks out of his instincts and when he’s an adult he supposedly learns to put the sexual reflex into its proper place in his repertoire. But the reason puppies vigorously mount well before they are able to breed is precisely because sexuality is directly linked to the prey drive and they are responding automatically to this alternative and more complex means of prey making. When they go towards something to bite, and they then meet with a degree of resistance, (the object of their attraction doesn’t act like prey) a puppy will become sexually aroused as his nervous system, being highly stimulated by the prey instinct, will then trip on the sexual circuitry through a feeling of vulnerability. This reflects that the simple urge to bite is being channeled into a new and far more complex avenue of pleasure. And if the other individual if of the same mind, it will be receptive to becoming the prey and the two will play as this complex integration is now the only way either of them can fulfill their complex pleasure circuits.”

“Sexuality in canines is primarily concerned with alignment for the purposes of hunting and only secondarily does it have to do with procreation. It is fundamentally concerned with the processing of resistance encountered in simple prey making into group and pack behaviors: the complex aspect to the prey drive. Because the prey drive has a sexual component, and because the prey drive was amplified through domestication, in my view is why the modern breeds of dogs are so much more sexual than the wolf. Wolves breed once a year and in general are not sexually active until about two years of age. Sometimes they even mate for life. Dogs on the other hand will breed promiscuously, they can breed when as young as six months, and females come into season twice a year. Sexuality in the domestic dog is quite detached from the natural rhythm of the earth’s cycles as it is more attuned to the magnetic attraction between animals inherent in the simple prey instinct. The emotions of dogs are more weighted towards the active aspects of prey making, searching, chasing, and biting. Whereas the wolf’s nervous system remains more attuned to the seasons of the earth and to the migratory patterns of the prey species which themselves are responding to the earth’s magnetic field and influences of the sun, moon, and perhaps stars. Wolves are more limited by instincts.”

“Traditionally, sexual behaviors have been misinterpreted as a drive to dominate, or to submit, or to claim territory, and have been seen as causative and the means by which a pack is formed, but that is far off the mark because it merely reflects the projection of human concepts such as survival, territoriality and dominance onto the behavior of animals. The alignment of the group into the structured order of the pack is due to the influence that the simple prey instinct has on the nervous system and temperament of the individual. When the individual is deeply aroused to bite, he is vulnerable and uninhibited. If in sync through the prey drive, he is freed from stress and able to align. Cooperation and order isn’t created as the Pack Theory has suggested through a dominance hierarchy.”

Natural Dog Training failed to shift the fundamental thinking on dogs because this notion of the prey drive as overarching mechanism for a group dynamic was criticized as being too simplistic, and of course it contradicted the modern notion of dog as learning machine, or dominance/submissive automaton in the opposing school of thought, the tendency toward neutering and just about every other dogma as well. However today, revealingly, absolutely every high end system of dog training is moving toward training by motivating a dog’s prey drive. Perhaps taking stock of the direction mainstream science and conventional training is moving, with such articles as this, it will become easier to consider how Predator/Prey – – > Male/Female – – > Social follows one from the other via pleasure as the group circuitry.

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Published January 25, 2010 by Kevin Behan

45 responses to “Pleasure Creates Social”

  1. Sang says:

    As I study human relationships, and the male/female dynamic, it has become more and more evident that the act of sex is not about procreation at all. Just as you state, as do the authors of With Pleasure, procreation is only the byproduct of the sexual encounter. The encounter itself is driven purely by the drive to connect and create a state of harmony and union.

    Kevin, you’ve said to me before that I need to channel my dogs’ “sacred energy”. That as they are going through the process of healing, any time they are allowed freedom to “leak their energy”, they then have less energy to give me when I ask for it, thereby lessening the deep connection that is possible between us. The same is true of us humans. It makes itself evident when one of the partners in a relationship leaks their energy to someone outside of the relationship. You see it happen all the time in couples where one or both have extra marital affairs. One of them starts spending more and more time with a co worker or a “friend”. They then start to share with that person more and more personal information about themselves or the details of their current relationship. They start “leaking” more and more of their energy to this person, and then have less to share with their current partner. The connection with their current partner becomes weaker and weaker, and then ultimately the connection becomes lost, as the focus of that sacred energy is shifted to the outsider. That’s a very simplified example of this phenomenon, but it happens all the time. They aren’t even aware that they’re doing it, and then the attraction shifts from their current partner to the one to whom they are constantly re-channeling their energy. I could go into it much deeper, but that would take a bit of time.

    So we need to revisit our understanding of our own sexual desires and drives. To break away from the commonly held belief that our sexually motivated drives only exist to facilitate procreation. Because once one can grasp, understand, and embrace the idea that our sexual drives aren’t about survival, at least not in the accepted context of what survival means, then we’ll be able to create and maintain connection and harmony with those around us. But one first has to accept the notion or idea that all of our behaviors are driven by things we are not consciously aware of. That all of our core motives, desires, and behaviors are all manifestations of a singular drive, which is the same drive that propels dogs. The drive to make contact, as Kevin would say.

  2. christine randolph says:

    yep you bet, trainers all over are now desperate enough to work with the prey drive(again?) ….

    reading Kevin’s 1992 book I think it and its theories on Prey Instict came to early, too soon after Koehler and too long before CM.

    I have been told to use that prey drive thing by my dog trainers here in Canada (I do not think they would use it as an overriding principle of consciousness in dogs but to use it for training, they just will go for ANYTHING to create drive in their agility dogs).

    I think that in absence of other overriding drives that have meanwhile NOT been discovered, prey drive makes a lot of sense. it is linked with survival, it is not present as a behaviour in puppies and has to be acquired as they grow up within a group etc….

    even if a dog is not governed much by prey/hunt, one can make it so and use it to one’s advantage in training, then train
    without having to correct the dog so much.

    very clever !

    of course mounting and thrusting on their human handlers, especially by female dogs (for instance my female dog….) with no chance of procreation EVER, could be nervous displacement

    … but I think in some dogs the drive to perform this behaviour could be even more overriding than the prey instinct.

    it also is a way for the dog to make tight body contact, and they drive to it in a similar way as they go for the HUP command, jumping up on the handler to make contact as described in the 1992 book on Natural Dog Training,..

    ..but that can probably be reversed to some degree with training into a better prey drive, and then used as described.

    Kathy Sdao had a discussion on her site at some point about putting “mounting” on cue….it is gone now.

    i think Why Not ? it is not offensive to me and i do not care enough about what other people think of me.

    definitely a conversation starter !

    …what was that about guys with puppies trying to attract the girls ….?

    I think the energy theory is also valid, but also comes way too early. people are barely ready for the Prey Instinct and Kevin has already moved on from this 18 years ago…lightyears ahead !

    Kevin is one of those guys that is too far ahead of his times !!!!

    anyway, the dvds are not out yet, but i have put the Human Spark in my Netfix queue. really like Alan Alda.

  3. Christine says:

    Sang, I’d like to know a bit more about this “leaking energy” that you referred to and Kevin’s suggestion “to channel my dogs’ “sacred energy”. That as they are going through the process of healing, any time they are allowed freedom to “leak their energy”, they then have less energy to give me when I ask for it, thereby lessening the deep connection that is possible between us.” In what ways do/can dogs “leak energy”; what types of behaviors would I look for? And what would be the redirect? Since I have 3 dogs, I’d like to be aware of this phenomena as I desire a strong connection with each of them. Thank You!

  4. Sang says:

    Hey Christine, I’ll explain it the best I can. Kevin obviously would be able to explain it better.

    If your dog has issues that need resolution, then he would have developed all kinds of behaviors that would allow him to download his stress. Anything from something as simple and low energy as sniffing the ground, to whining, neurotic barking, constant marking on a walk, etc…..These are all opportunities for him to leak out energy a little bit at a time, because those are the devices he has learned to use to find some form of resolution for his stored up stress. Getting into fights with other dogs would be another manifestation of that, only on a larger scale. Every time he has the chance to release his energy into something that doesn’t involve you, he has less to give you when you do engage with him.

    So let’s say he’s in the backyard by himself, and a squirrel or rabbit runs through the yard and he gives chase. If you had already developed a strong relationship with him in the past, and developed that bond, then this wouldn’t be much of an issue. But if you are still working on developing that strong connection, then this would be an opportunity wasted, where he had the chance to “leak” his energy into squirrel chasing. If you were there with him in the yard, and as soon as he picked up on the squirrel’s presence, you praised him and then channeled him into pushing or tug or some bitework, then playing with you becomes what chasing a squirrel feels like, and then he’s able to channel that energy he would have wasted on chasing the squirrel, into engaging with you.

    Hopefully I’ve explained it correctly. Like I said, I’m using my own words to explain Kevin’s model, so I’m sure Kevin would have more to add to this.

  5. Christine says:

    Thank You! And well-done; clear and concise explanation. You know perfectly well Kevin can sometimes be difficult to follow; especially for those of us not in his intellectual stratosphere!(affable chuckle)

  6. christine randolph says:

    haha Kevin knows he is not the world’s greatest communicator.
    he says that if his wife had not helped edit and re-phrase a lot of stuff in the book in 1992 it would have been unreadable.

  7. Heather says:

    Thanks Sang for that post. I am really glad to have found NDT when I did. It has made a big difference in what I am doing with my dog (though it wouldn’t seem big, but the subtle changes and mindset really amount to 180 from what I had been doing), and in understanding what he needs and why.

    It is really fun to see him channel energy into our shared activities because that is what feels good to him, vs. because if he doesn’t there will be a negative consequence. He is loosey-goosey and he looks like he is feeling good from his head to his toes, I just have to smile watching him go through the day. I much prefer this to the look of being nervous and stressed that I sometimes elicited in my ignorance. I am noticing a lot of nervousness and stress in dogs that I think is often mistaken for calm obedience.

  8. Sang says:

    You’re right Heather. The subtlest changes in the things you do with your dog can have a huge impact on their overall state of being. It’s funny how in our pursuit of all these new ways of “training” dogs, and getting desired behaviors from them, we forget why we have dogs in our lives to begin with. That’s one of the greatest things about NDT. One of the reasons I was drawn to it and Kevin so strongly. The fact that it really isn’t training at all. There’s really very little “training” going on. At least in the typical context of what training has come to mean. NDT is more a process to recreate the kind of relationship and bond that we used to have with dogs before things started getting all crazy on us. And through this organic process, dogs learn what they need to learn along the way.

    A friend of mine who travels around the world with her dogs is currently living in South America. She’s seen dogs pretty much anywhere you would find them, and she told me something about the dogs and their owners in Mexico. She said that so many of them walk through the city off leash, in a natural heel next to their owners, even with all the energy of the city environment around them. People, other dogs, traffic…..They have no formal training at all. Just a natural attraction to their owners. Also, when her dogs would meet other dogs in the street, they would respect each other’s boundaries, with the occasional snarl being exchanged, but nothing more.

    I find her stories about her travels very telling and full of interesting perspectives that go beyond our own, sometimes self limiting attitude when it comes to dogs. I’ve done the whole dominance thing, as well as the all positive thing. And from what I’ve found and learned from working with Kevin, NDT is the closest thing to getting back to the roots of the human/dog relationship, in many ways going beyond it.

  9. christine randolph says:

    heather, sang, to me what is most amazing about kevin’s methods is that despite what my dog trainers tell me to do, i have done by myself a lot more of the stuff Kevin recommends than what they recommend, because it felt natural…of course there is much more stuff to discover in kevin’s theories but it sure is a revelation…unfortunately i have no one to share it with here where i live,,,they are mostly all in total operant conditioning mode…

  10. Burl says:

    Sang said: “NDT is more a process to recreate the kind of relationship and bond that we used to have with dogs before things started getting all crazy on us. And through this organic process, dogs learn what they need to learn along the way.”

    Very well put. I also notices far more of an organic/psychological vs inorganic/physical tone in this blog post from Kevin.

    I often wonder if I should comment here, as I don’t really think we have a “dog in the [dog training controversy] hunt.” We simply wanted dogs, went to the no-kill shelter 11 yrs ago, adopted a year old mixed breed, then a companion for him, and 5 years later adopted 2 more (our 1st recently died). So we have three female mutts (10, 6, and 5 years old) that are like our perpetually young kids.

    Like most RVers, we found we too needed one to be able to travel and not leave our dogs – too attached. So they have seen many hikes in parks. At home, they spend their days inside and outside in our fenced suburban yard. We both take them for 2 walks a day, and in cool weather, they come with us in the car if we go to a store or restaurant for a while. They sleep in the room with us – the 10 yr old on her side bed raised to mattress level, one between us, and one who starts out on the bed, but generally goes off to the living room sofa.

    We do not train our dogs to do anything, we only want them to be content dogs with a good home. When we walk, we use pinch collars, so easy that one of us easily can do all three (even 4) with no problem or pulling – a cat or squirrel might cause a yank, of course.

    It was hard getting the two new dogs and the two that we had already had for 5 years into the calm household we enjoyed with just 2, but it gradually and naturally seems to have fallen into a pretty harmonious state within a year or two. One thing that might account for a good balance w/ little ‘training’ is we are retired and so always with the dogs, even if they are mostly just hanging out and sleeping inside or out.

    Over the past 5 years, there have been a few events (fairly rare) when flare ups erupt where two get into an instant snarling fight (usually the younger beagle/shepherd mix is involved). Of course, moments later they are walking side-by-side as though nothing happened.

    How are you supposed to safely disentangle two 50 lb dogs when this happens (my wife has been well-bitten twice)?

  11. Heather says:

    I don’t think Happy’s confusion over what to do with his stress energy is totally resolved. It is much, much better but beneath the surface it is there, there is nervousness about connecting totally with me, it comes out when he grabs onto my hand or arm when he makes contact with me. I think it is the same thing that used to happen in the yard (still does very occassionally) – he has this really large attraction to me, but from some of the things I unknowingly mismanaged early on, when something triggers his prey or hunting drive, he gets nervous or unsure (I’m not sure if the nervousness or the prey instinct comes first) with me because he has this physical memory of resistance associated with me…so he grips or nips with his mouth *on me.* Now, the biting is not hard to redirect into an object to chase and bite *when* I see the signs that this is happening…but in two cases I’m struggling with the question “what is the right thing to do?”: (1) the case where I’m asking him to make contact with me (pushing) – what I’ve done is to start out by giving him the bite object (a ball with holes in it that he can can really get a grip on is working best) – because he doesn’t seem to be redirect-able once he gets onto my arm or hand and then it seems counterproductive to continue, and when he does have a hard grip on the ball he feels free to totally and completely push into me/put his paws up on me while I am moving backward; (2) in the occassional time when I miss the signs and I’m (or my husband is) literally standing in the middle of a field when the confluence of energy happens – my response has been to just do nothing and stand there (redirection isn’t happening at this point), but that doesn’t seem right either.

  12. Sang says:

    Hey Burl, I know Kevin will probably give you a lot of input and feedback based on your description of things.

    I’m not sure what the BEST way is to pull dogs apart that are fighting. But what’s worked for me when I’ve had to do it is to grab their back legs and pull them apart. You need a partner for that of course. But if neither of the dogs has a lead or line on them, I personally do not feel comfortable reaching in and grabbing a collar. I’ve gotten bit once that way, and learned my lesson. Pulling them apart by their back legs isn’t ideal, but at least it keeps you out of harm’s way for the most part.

  13. Heather says:

    Underneath it all I’m pretty ticked off at the “mainstream” dog training industry. I’ve got a lot of anger after finally finishing Kevin’s book. I’m also sad that I thought I was doing the best for my dog using “positive” training methods early on (some of the stuff wasn’t positive, but I guess if it’s not outright striking a dog it qualifies), but unwittingly stressed him out.

    Why is it though that there isn’t more disillusionment with the crazy, contradictory state of affairs in dog training? And why aren’t there more really messed up dogs out there? Most people I know (I informally poll dog owners!) say that they swatted their dog on the nose, held his mouth closed, or pushed him off, or squirted him, or yelled at him, or commanded him with a special word, or whatever, and he stopped mouthing them at an early age. Could it be true that their dogs responded well to that?

  14. Sang says:

    Dogs are amazing in their ability to adapt, and they develop coping behaviors to live with us, regardless of how they are treated. If the human doesn’t provide a healthy way for them to channel and release their energy, they’ll find other ways to do it.

    Heather, the people you speak of who squirted their dogs, held their mouths shut and so on….I’m sure those dogs developed other issues and behaviors as a result. The problem is that more often than not, those behaviors go unnoticed because they are not problematic to the person’s lifestyle. Most people, when they see a dog that is shut down or overly friendly, see a well behaved, calm/happy dog. They think that their dog’s constant paw licking, to use one example, is just some strange behavior or tick their dog has developed, and then categorize it as an unexplainable anomaly, when in fact, barring a real health issue, it’s actually more likely a coping mechanism for dealing with built up stress. They just don’t see the damage they’re creating or did create by doing some of the things they do. The problem becomes that people don’t see that aggression, “submission” and over friendliness are all manifestations of the same core problem. They believe that “submissive” behavior is good, over friendliness is good, but aggression is bad. When the truth is that none of those things are good or bad, because they’re all different manifestations of the same core issue. Most people can’t see it though through the lens of their own filters and judgements. Instead they start to label and categorize things, and then go about trying to solve the problem with that same mindset, when the problem can’t be solved unless they address the real core problem.

    I’m sure that you’ve been perusing this site enough to understand that the outward behaviors in and of themselves aren’t important. It’s what’s going on underneath those behaviors that holds the key. So if the behaviors in and of themselves aren’t the real issue, then we can’t label submission and over friendliness as good, while we label aggression as bad. Not when they’re manifestations of the same problem. That problem being how to resolve the stored up energy and bring it to ground.

  15. Heather says:

    –It’s what’s going on underneath those behaviors that holds the key–

    I am defininitely seeing and understanding that. Even after reading the book and spending a couple of months not “doing” much of anything, however, I am still not sure I am reading what is going on accurately. EG the grabbing behavior – it’s gone for weeks then all of a sudden crops up. I’ve been doing the pushing really low-key a bit at dinner for quite a while, then the last couple of days (maybe not a coincidence the jumping and grabbing cropped up about then?) I felt more intensity from him, so instead of food, I used a toy he likes thinking he would benefit from really biting down. I encouraged him a little more and backed up a little faster, and unexpectedly (to me!) he really PUSHED and kept on pushing…but also latched onto my arm, and had no interest in the ball I tried to entice him with. At one point I tossed the ball, expecting him to chase it, but instead was left with no ball and a dog hanging on my arm and pushing on me (he seemed totally relaxed but focused, like isn’t this the best thing ever), and I’m backing up to get the ball…so it felt like something went awry there. I figured nervousness, but during the pushing death-grip, he didn’t seem nervous. Before the jumping/grabbing behavior, he does seem nervous.

    I’m not trying to belabor the point, I am just stumped sometimes and can’t see what is happening “underneath.”

  16. Sang says:

    Sorry I didn’t give a direct reply to your question. Honestly, I know Kevin would have a concrete answer for you as to what’s going on, but I’ll offer up my thoughts. Hmmmm….wonder where he is anyway? 🙂

    To me it seems like the arm biting is the re-emergence of an old template that never got to have resolution, so it’s coming back to the surface. You’ll find that as you go through this process, old habits or behaviors will reappear. Essentially, Happy will be revisiting his puppyhood, cycling through the old behaviors and patterns that never got resolution as these old feelings get triggered. The arm biting would be something that created a “fault” in his system at some point. And as Kevin says, “every improvement he makes will come through the fault line.” I imagine that when he would bite your arm or nip at your hands when he was a young puppy, you corrected that behavior in some way? I’m sure you’ve mentioned that somewhere along the line, but I just don’t remember.

    Have you been pushing with food, or only with the bite toy? The reason I ask is because if you’re still feeding him like normal, then you’re still feeding his old fears and underlying issues. Until these issues of resistance are resolved, he should push for his meals outside. The reason being that for Happy, all experiences are tied together as one experience. There is no yesterday, or last week, or tomorrow or next week. Only one big, long now. And as long as he’s still being fed normally, then his old paradigm and template still gets him what he desires, his meal. At the end of the day, all his underlying fears and nervousness……well….it works. Because if his life is essentially one long moment that lasts forever, then feeding him the normal way today is the same as feeding his fears that were created 2 months ago. So if he only gets to have his meal by pushing through his resistance into you, then it helps to start rewriting the template and old paradigm, until eventually you can wipe it clean.

    Like I said, I know that Kevin can pinpoint what’s going on for you and Happy. I can just offer my thoughts from my own experience of working with Kevin. I may not be hitting on exactly what’s going on with Happy, but hopefully this gives you some more insights.

  17. Sang says:

    Oh, sorry Heather. I see in your last post that you did say you were pushing with food. Don’t know where my mind is at today:)

  18. Sang says:

    Might I suggest a bite sleeve? Sounds like he really enjoys the bite:)

  19. Sang says:

    And yes, it’s no coincidence that the grabbing behavior has re-appeared since you started the pushing. One of my own dogs actually started losing some of her housebreaking habits while going through this process. She was always incredibly reliable, and then all of the sudden she started peeing in the house. Not often, but on occasion. All kinds of weird things can start popping up and re-emerging as you go through this. Just depends on the dogs and how much “stuff” they’re holding onto.

  20. Heather says:

    Thank you Sang!

    I’d be glad to get a bite sleeve if that would be good for him.

    What I had gotten clarity on up until this point was that the early training– specifically asking him to drop toys a lot during playtime (then opening his mouth if he didn’t comply), to show him that we were in charge of playtime to theoretically prevent things from getting too rowdy, and also trying to stop him from mouthing as he got older, and also my thoughts with respect to all of this, had created a lot of resistance/stress. My trainer (an Ian Dunbar fan) was telling us that Happy needed to stop putting his teeth on people by X weeks (16? 20? Anyway, it was an arbitrary number but as it approached and he was chewing away on me throughout the classesm, seemingly unawar of this rule written in stone, while the rest of the puppies were giving kisses, I got quite anxious…my efforts to “stop the teeth” ran the gamut of all crazy stuff anyone has ever suggested, though I abandoned each thing rather quickly as nothing felt at all close to right…still there was an escalating cycle for a few weeks there until Happy finally got to be whatever-the-magic-number-was + 1 week, and I snapped out of it. And luckily stumbled onto Kevin’s site.

    Meanwhile the puppy mouthiness morphed into this jumping and nipping (I’m calling it grabbing now because that describes it better), manifesting outside when he would see a toy, or come back from a walk. He’s still pretty mouthy in general, but inside we don’t play, he has a pen, things are and always were pretty great. We didn’t play at all for a few weeks, then gradually started with the tug of war where he would always win, and pushing for a few handfulls of dinner. No practicing training. He loves it. Walking is the hilight, I will say that I don’t know what shifted except that I give him my hat to carry on the way home, but now he jogs up the driveway with me and chews his bone in the yard and he’s very relaxed.

    Maybe since we had toy “issues” this is why pushing in connection with the toy (a new, totally different one than a few months ago, but still maybe an object of resistance?) brought the grabbing out in such a concentrated way along with the pushing. The way he pushed into me so strongly and calmly seemed good, I didn’t want to discourage that at all…the death-grip on the arm I was hoping to redirect but he didn’t care at all about the ball.

  21. kbehan says:

    The main thing is that you have to resolve to trust in his good nature. It will take time to resolve unresolved emotion, and we will be tested in the meantime. He’s a young dog and you just have to give yourself time and the chance to “do over” and the glitches in the meantime are one’s penance. Also, one must provide the equal/opposite to the positive (pushing/biting/rewarding) and that is expressing your predatory aspect and this is accomplished with the rapid down and long down/stay exercise. Finally, always remember that our personality is a self-contradicting logic loop and our dog is its perfect embodiment. So the degree of frustration/anxiety/disappointment/befuddlement we experience relative to our dog, is not in the end about our dog. It’s a chance to get in touch with what’s stuck in our own emotional battery. We will be tested.

  22. kbehan says:

    Thanks Sang, I couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  23. Sang says:

    It’s taken me a while Kevin, but I’m finally picking up what you’ve been laying down. 🙂

  24. Burl says:

    Burl said: “Over the past 5 years, there have been a few events (fairly rare) when flare ups erupt where two get into an instant snarling fight (usually the younger beagle/shepherd mix is involved). Of course, moments later they are walking side-by-side as though nothing happened.

    How are you supposed to safely disentangle two 50 lb dogs when this happens (my wife has been well-bitten twice)?”

    Is it likely such flare-ups will end with no blood since the dogs are so close the rest of the time? Can we just let it go and expect them to break-up on their own?

  25. kbehan says:

    They may self-regulate but it can escalate as well (likely triggers of these outbursts will likely be moments of compression in tight spaces and around owners) because the charge gets stronger and stronger, especially for the one that “loses.” But the greatest therapeutic device one can do is give the dogs independently of each other, another acceptable outlet for the charge, i.e. biting something else with equal intensity. The more the dogs get to bite the “moose,” the more they are able to differentiate from each other when in moments of intensity and this principle of complementary traits is what allows energy to move smoothly between them rather than erupting into a fight.

  26. Burl says:

    kbehan says: They may self-regulate but it can escalate as well (likely triggers of these outbursts will likely be moments of compression in tight spaces and around owners) because the charge gets stronger and stronger, especially for the one that “loses.”

    Wow, Kevin, I think that nailed the backdrop of yjese incidents! The 1st time this was a serious issue (Martha gets bit bad) was on an extended trip in a small RV where the 10 yr old Sissy was ‘victimized’ by the 5 year old Peanut (beagle/shepherd) over territory on bed and/or closeness to Martha. And the most recent was in the kitchen between 6 yr old Red and Peanut while all 3 were holding close vigil over Martha’s preparation of our breakfast.

    KB said: But the greatest therapeutic device one can do is give the dogs independently of each other, another acceptable outlet for the charge, i.e. biting something else with equal intensity. The more the dogs get to bite the “moose,” the more they are able to differentiate from each other when in moments of intensity and this principle of complementary traits is what allows energy to move smoothly between them rather than erupting into a fight.

    Like play rough w/ each in a tug of war?

    If any of you are interested, our three (Sissy, Peanut, and Red) appear in the last quarter of this video of our no-kill shelter’s (CAAWS) year-end party for volunteers. There is a before and after shot of our 3…

  27. Heather says:

    Gorgeous dogs, Burl!

  28. Christine says:

    Yes Burl, nice-looking puppers! I always enjoy seeing pics of pups, thanks for sharing!

  29. Burl says:

    Thanks, but don’t let on to them else they will be expecting us to give ’em more pup corn treats!

  30. Burl says:

    On a Twitter, Lee C Kelly put me on to these podcasts on the brain – most excellent.

    I am listening to #62 and #53 again. They deal with developing the right philosophy to describe the mind-body relation. One of LCK and Kevin’s topics of interest is emergence, and these guys nail it in their book.

    Keep in mind that all they say is equally true for dogs (except for higher abstracted thoughts, of course, since dogs are too pure to be associated w/ such silliness).

  31. taoofblue says:

    Heather, If it makes you feel any better I’m having the same issue with my pup. She’s a 7 month old female Harlequin Great Dane. And she has been raised with NDT since I got her.

    When she was young I let her bite without abandon, hand, arm whatever, but this I would term mostly mouthing, as it was done in a calm chewing type manner. She was never corrected. If she bit down too hard I yelped ‘Ouch’, and this seemed to work.

    Now I’ve tried to get her interested in a ball, and playing tug but she’s not really into it. She’ll sometimes tug a few times and loves it. I let her win, she prances around and I back pedal and she comes in for more. But she soon loses interest. She’s not into fetch either (and I’ve tried numerous types of balls to see what she likes, the newest being a small soccer ball). She’ll fetch for one, maybe two, but then puppy brain kicks in and she’s off doing whatever. And I’m sitting there whooping and dancing away trying to get her to care.

    Plus if I play chase me, in order to amp up the game so it will keep going then she loves it, but she will not focus on the bite toy, but will instead bite arms, shoulders, etc. This is when she’s most attracted to me, but once she gets a sleeve of your coat, or sweatshirt, how do you let her win it? I’m left standing still, playing possum, not praising. Or I’ve tried excessive praising, and redirecting to a toy, or food, but this doesn’t work either. Although her bite control is good, she still gets me good sometimes–and I’m reasonably robust, healthy, and over 6’2″. I have a special wool jacket I wear with a little extra padding on the arm. But am definitely considering a bite sleeve, if I could get her to play with me more. cI would never let her near something moving fast (a kid for example) off leash. She would clobber the poor thing. Sometimes I wonder if this will all smooth out after she goes through a heat cycle, and is able to change moods better, and is old enough to be put on a choke collar in order to really train her.

    Recently when this happens I STOP with my arm braced against my body and say ‘OUT’ once (if the bite really hurts the ‘Ouch!’ and out sound close enough. Then I wait immobile hoping she lets my arm go. When she does, I immediately back pedal saying a release command, like ‘Hup’ or ‘Ok’ and show her the toy if she grabs onto it she hears a good girl, if she focuses on the arm again I say nothing but try again.

    The problem is she rarely wants to play like this with me. She’s really drivey towards other dogs, but not towards me. At the beach she’s off like I don’t exist. And when she does–which is rare–my arms take a beating.

    I’ve also pushed with her since she was young, but not with every meal. Because ‘Bloat’ is common in Danes I was always reticent about exercising for every meal. Especially since I was always told not to feed to close after exercise, and to wait about an hour after every meal for exercise. So when she was younger she would get a meal when she woke up. We’d push for about 1 cup worth at lunch, then she’d get the rest in her bowl. And her evening meal in her bowl too. This has increased as she’s gotten older. She eats about 7-8 cups of food a day. I’m still worried about pushing with her in one session with 3-4 cups of food. I have slowly worked up to about 2 cups per sessions, then after a cool down inside, I’ll feed her the other two cups. Now, I’ve tried to intersperse tug and fetch into our outings, but she’s not really into them.

    But, I think I remember someone saying something about Sang and his dogs getting out the door, and it was like ‘Thanks, see ya later!’. This is her. That’s what she’s like at the beach, or anywhere else. Redirects work sometimes, but not always.

    And, recently, due I think to her age, she has more energy than I can even deal with. So whether I push or not she needs to run around for awhile. I live near the beach and it’s been good to go there when her attraction was ok, because you can let them off leash and not worry about management: I’d just walk along and she would orbit and check stuff out, I’d occassionally run the other way, and throw a ball, which she usually wouldn’t be interested in, maybe try and get her to tug (usually no luck at beach). At first this was ok. But now, she older, and heavier (100lbs) and with all the smells, and the expansiveness, she not interested in me. And if she sees another dog, then I have no pull whatsoever.

    But this is all neither here nor there. I would like nothing more than my dog wanting to push, and tug, and play with me. I’m so frustrated because instead of being able to work for 10-20 mins on something to tire, and exercise, and work with her, I’m left having to walk on the beach for a hour if I want any peace for the next 2 when I’m at home. If we go outside the house to play, say on a pee break, she doesn’t want to play, she wants to sniff. And when she does want to play it’s inconsistent and my arms take a beating.

    I understand Kevin’s theory pretty well, and am willing to admit that alot of this is most likely an undercurrent of my own emotional make up that I haven’t been able to put my finger on yet. I’ve worked with other dogs, and have turned many people on to NDT in the last few months, and when I work with those dogs it’s so fun, they respond so well to me. When I work with my own it’s different, so the problem must be me.

    I keep reminding myself that she’s just a pup, and to be patient and I hope it all smoothes itself out.

    I will admit that although I was familiar with NDT before I got the puppy, and had read NDT years ago before I even had a dog, I received Kevin’s book about a month and a half after I had her. And I’m willing to admit that this first month she was always at the beach with me, off leash, having a blast with other dogs. And although I never interrupted her drive, I definitely wasn’t the focus. Before rereading I was concentrating on ‘socializing’ her to other dogs before she got too big. And now even though I think it had some benefits I kick myself and wish I had a do-over.

    Anyway, those are some thoughts from an owner who would like nothing more than to be able to use all the NDT techniques to channel their dog, into 15-20 minutes of focused heeling and pushing and tugging and just having fun. But what happens when you can’t, or they won’t? The only way to get some good quiet time indoors is if she gets lucky and finds a doggy friend at the beach that she gets to chase and run with for a bit.

    Please forgive all the spelling mistakes and weird grammatical errors. I fear reviewing it and not wanting to hit the ‘submit’ button. I’ve been reading about Happy and Heather for the last few weeks, and trying to find a better way to describe the above behaviour manifesting in my dog. Alas, I couldn’t wait any longer and had to vomit this for you all. Thank you for letting me rant a little.


  32. Burl says:

    Tao, maybe you could go to the shelter and puick out a buddy for your dog. I think they are MUCH calmer in pairs.

  33. Not necessarily.

    Here’s a blog article I wrote a while back that might help move things along in the right direction:

    I would also recommend going all out on the pushing exercise; feed her all her meals outdoors every day this way. (I personally wouldn’t recommend doing the pushing exercise with a puppy until they’re at least 6 mos. old.)

    I’d also do the “eyes” exercise:

    And take treats with you when you go to the beach. Use them not as rewards for paying attention or coming when called, but as a means of increasing her attraction to you.

    I hope this helps!


  34. Burl says:

    Just wondering here…With all the exercises designed to increase your dog’s attraction and desire for you, what does poochie do all day when you are not there or when you aren’t interested in playing?

  35. Sang says:

    As always, great advice Lee.

    I just want to share and clarify that yes, I did share my experience with my own dogs and how they would “check out” when I’d let them out the door. But just to elaborate, ever since doing NDT, I actually have to make them go and do their business, otherwise they just hang around me. In fact, my greyhound/dobie mix turns around as soon as she steps out the door and sits, waiting to engage with me. I didn’t teach her or ask her to do this. She just started doing it on her own once I started pushing with her for all her meals outside. It’s just really amazing how much of a shift can happen.

    Also, my terrier mix Roxy, who used to immediately go after dogs and attack them just at the sight of them, no matter how far away they were, has had amazing shifts as well. Example: Every morning a woman walks by our house with her Lab. This morning, Roxy saw the Lab, and then immediately looked at me and then ran at me to push. So we did some hard pushing, and then all was well. This is a dog that just the mere sight of another dog used to send her into a frenzy.

    I share those successes here to show that, yes, you may be experiencing some roadblocks right now, but I’ve been there and dealt with some pretty severe stuff over the past years on my way to getting to this point. Living with 3 dogs, 2 of which used to get into fights fairly often. it was a madhouse at times. Just stick with it and use every “setback” and frustration as a learning opportunity. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share, but looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  36. Burl asked: “With all the exercises designed to increase your dog’s attraction and desire for you, what does poochie do all day when you are not there or when you aren’t interested in playing?”

    They’re lost in a very deep and satisfied sleep.


  37. kbehan says:

    Just for review, the central tenet of NDT is that our dog should want to “make prey” with us even more than it enjoys making-prey (play) with other dogs. So when the dog runs free then its energy finds its own gratification and we may not necessarily be the access channel from the dog’s point of view. It’s very good training for us humans to learn how to make the prey (bite object) feel alive for our dogs. That’s what we mean by “Be The Moose.” By following Lee’s advice you’re creating an energy circuit on the beach with you as its apex, and thus the dog’s capacity to perceive the prey in your hand increases. Good luck and keep on pushing.

  38. Heather says:

    Tao, It does make me feel a LOT better!

    The times when Happy has been off-leash with other dogs and not at home he is focused on the dogs. He got tired and we left or put him in the car…those were confined areas though so not too far he could go. I have no doubt whatsoever that he would not come when called if he was playing with another dog in an unconfined area, and I haven’t tested it for that reason. In fact I think he would follow a dog for miles before it occurred to him that I wasn’t there. WHen he was little he stuck really close, now at 8 months he’s more adventurous. In any unconfined area, I keep him on a very long leash, not truly off-leash.

    I have the same worries re: bloat and doing a lot of food with exercise. I am being conservative with a few handfulls (a cup or two at most).

    I am finding that the breed really does make a difference in what activities they like to do (I thought the differences were more minor). Happy likes retrieving but is going to lose interest quickly if I throw the ball too far or more than a couple of times on land. He might be out for 15 or 20 minutes in the yard, but actual playtime is only a couple of minutes here and there. I’ve seen Labs play and play and play and PLAY…Happy likes following the kids, but his idea of a really great time is holding down the snow and chewing a bone.

    Tonight I got some food out to do pushing at dinner, and I had to ask Happy to “wait” because he was pushing before I could get ready. He did wait, I moved back a few steps and told him OK, and this 100 lb dog literally became *airborne* with all four feet off the ground, I have never seen him do that before. I kept going backwards and after he landed on the ground he pushed into me, then I gave him the food. I praised him a lot for it, I think it felt really, really good. We did this about 4 times then I gave him the rest of his food.

    I was really thrilled too.

  39. Heather says:

    My daughter got a new hat…it has fur all around it…I wasn’t thinking anything of it, but Happy noticed it and I guess he thought it was a toy or an animal, he jumped up and grabbed it, scared my daughter half to death (a scene of screaming and crying ensued). I said “no” and pulled the leash, and distracted him by running the other way with his toy. My husband took care of my daughter. Then a few minutes later Happy wanted to grab my hand (with glove)…I tried to ignore that completely, but he had decided that he didn’t want my hand after all, he wanted my glove and played his own game of tug to get it. So after a few seconds of ignoring, I tried to distract him with the toy in my coat, with food, but he wouldn’t switch focus. Finally I just opened my hand and let the glove slip off, and Happy triumphantly pranced off with my glove then brought it back to me. Then I had him lie down and traded the glove for food, and I took him inside and put him in his pen. He was pleased as punch.

    I think the right thing to do is ignore in the moment and plan ahead better in the future. But I’m not sure…this is a situation where I would have swiftly confronted and corrected in the past – not punishing, but blocking the behavior with my body and/or voice, and claiming the items as “mine”.

    I’m sure others have had these issues?

  40. Heather: “I kept going backwards and after he landed on the ground he pushed into me, then I gave him the food…”

    It might be helpful to give us an idea of how, exactly, you’re doing the pushing exercise. Could you describe it in detail? How did you learn it?

    One of the rules I teach my clients to follow is to never put any pressure against the dog’s chest unless he’s also eating at the same time. This is particularly true during the initial stages: if the dog is not eating from your food hand, your other hand shouldn’t be touching his chest.

    As discussed previously, you should also be doing the “eyes” exercise. If you’ve already done it, I would include it in little things like when it’s time to go for a walk, he has to look you in the eyes before you open the door, before he can go say hello to another dog he has to look you in the eyes, etc. (You have to start with the easiest first and work your way up.)

    Happy’s puppylike exuberance is important, but so is your daughter’s hat and the hand inside your glove! So you need a cue word, such as “wait…” to give Happy the feeling that things are still in flow, but that that there’s a bit of a lull in the action.

    Once he masters the “eyes” and “wait…” you can start working on the “stay.”


  41. Heather says:

    Hi Lee!

    –One of the rules I teach my clients to follow is to never put any pressure against the dog’s chest unless he’s also eating at the same time–

    Uh oh, this is opposite of what Neil Sattin said…Neil’s instructions he actually says stop touching the dog after the food is given. But maybe that is just in the beginning? Kevin’s book doesn’t go into pushing for food in detail but does talk about it as an alternative “contact” to the “hup”.

    I am not intending to foster competition or discord, just reading everything linked from Kevin’s site and where I find “detailed instructions” (I love formulas :)) I tend to gravitate to how-to stuff.

    So what I’m doing is getting the food and putting it in my pocket (Happy knows what time it is and what is coming, he likes it a lot), going to the most open area on our property, and patting my chest with the food hand while slightly extending the other hand and moving backwards (bent over slightly so I’m not so tall like a predator), encouraging him to come toward me with body language sometimes saying “OK!” “good boy” or something like that. Then when he reaches me I sort of naturally have to steady myself a bit using my outstretched hand so I don’t fall over, and I take that hand away and bring my other hand in quick and he eats the food and we do this a few times. Then I give him the food bowl and I do tell him good and rub him a bit as he starts to eat.

    I’m going to read the link now…

    When he’s grabbing stuff like the hat or gloves he is not able to listen, which is probably a “handler” problem…

  42. Heather says:

    Oh yes, thank you Lee, you know I’ve read your site from top to bottom too, but I have a small memory bank so I need to keep re-reading at different times because something new always jumps out.

  43. taoofblue says:

    Thanks for all the replies. Here is another meandering morning thought process:

    Burl, although I’d love to get another dog, one is more than enough for now. Especially in a 120 sq. ft apartment. 🙂

    Lee thanks again for the refresher. She’s really good at the eyes exercise, and with wait and ok. I also use redirect/push with her, and she sometimes comes in for a good push. I always have treats with me too.

    As for the 4 ways to handle the energy; step 3 ‘Draining the battery’ is taken care of by her crate. Step 4 and the ‘Transformer’ have been taken care of ever since reading your article about Freddie and the Chicken. As for grounding she got tons of nature and woods, but because she’s not really interested in playing tug, or fetch yet with any consistent focused attention and aplomb, even when I do a little frankenstein, I’m left with one solution if I ever want to channel her energy and become her ground wire: Upgrading the hardware.

    I think you’re right. One solution: I have to go all out on the pushing exercise. Hopefully this will help with getting her to play.

    I agree with you Lee about the puppy thing too. Could I have started pushing with her too early? I think I was so geeked on NDT that I was more excited about pushing then she was. I might–on an emotional level– wanted more than was possible. If I had a do over, I would work the push in more as a gentle treat chasing game at first, instead of walking outside dropping a box on the driveway and getting down to it. And although I don’t think (key word) I made a big deal about it–by pressuring her or anything–as a pup she might have felt/sensed (key word) that I wanted more that she could give even if it was only for 1/2 of her meal once a day.

    If I remember, Lee, you worked with a Great Dane, Achille? Did you ever push with him? And Kevin I know GSD can sometimes bloat, has this ever been an issue for you? Great Dane owners have the fear of God put into them by breeders, and veterinarians about this issue. And the initial paranoia fostered some heavy research on my part which spurred me into writing a theory/essay which uses Kevin’s model to prove that it shouldn’t be a problem with dogs that push and eat a decent food. It’s not done yet, I’m waiting for one more response from a veterinarian, but should be soon, then I’ll share it. I just wondered if this ‘bloat’ thing ever crossed anyones mind?

    Another thing though, does everyone PUSH for daily meals in the yard, near their house? The reason I ask is I don’t have a field anywhere close, and the house is surrounded by dense woods, so it’s either the crushed stone driveway, the road, or the beach.

    And the reason I’ve never went to feed her at the beach was I thought it would be too distracting. But maybe that’s the point now: if she wants to eat, she’ll have to tune everything else out?

    Thanks for reading, and the suggestions. Time to upgrade, time to push. Sang, your message gives me confidence. I have faith in my dog. She’s feels way better than me. I’ll keep you posted.


  44. AZStu says:

    “the experience of pleasure is integral to creating the group dynamic so that the many minded become but one mind.” Amazing dancing dog with owner.

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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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