Science Takes One Step Forward, but then…………………

So why wait for science?

The goal of NDT is for owners to become their own experts. This requires questioning authority, learning to trust what you feel, and to recognize internal contradictions in the information you’re being presented with, no euphemism or oxymoron must lie unchallenged (for example, the term dominance instinct is an oxymoron). This brings me a recent interview with Dr. Bradshaw (“Dog Sense: The New Science of Understanding Dog Behavior”) on NPR’s Terry Gross show

I was pleased to hear him say that playing tug of war with a dog and ALWAYS letting him win builds the bond with his owner. Thanks to the good doctor for that and welcome to the party. Since NDT is accused of being unscientific, let me take note that I’ve been teaching this to dog owners since the late seventies, developed a model for the canine mind and a training method in the eighties to account for why this is true, and then published the concept in 1992 (“Natural Dog Training,” William Morrow page 132). During those years the admonishment of science to dog owners was to NEVER play tug of war with a dog. I will never forget the countless looks of astonishment I have seen on the faces of the owners of aggressive dogs over the course of my career when I tell them that they need to play tug of war (push/pull) with their dog and that their dog doesn’t bite HARD enough. So I have to wonder what’s the next advancement in behavioral science: neutering male dogs renders them less social, if your dog doesn’t love to bite it needs to bite, the social life of canines organizes around the hunting life, stress is the physical memory of emotional experience, domestication is an amplification of a wild emotional core: a dog must always feel in control in order to feel safe?

While it is correct to be patient with science when it takes its time to get things right, we should not have patience with science when it gets things wrong. Don’t wait for science, become your own expert now.

The source of all the confusion and the problem with mainstream science is that it sees the animal mind as a self-contained agency of intelligence, and from this assumption every step forward in understanding is simultaneously contravened by many steps backwards. With this in mind let’s review some highlights of the interview to identify a few inconsistencies, hidden assumptions and outright contradictions given the absence of an energy theory, the understanding that your dog’s mind is an energy circuit and therefore our task as owners is to become that which completes the dog’s emotional connection with its world. This connection works according to laws of nature, not human reason.

Bradshaw: “Most dogs require their owners’ attention [and] they want their owners’ attention,” he says. “They want people’s attention in general. And withdrawing that is a very powerful signal to the dog.”

KB: The modern dog owner these days give their dogs 100 fold the attention that dogs used to receive when I was a boy and then first became a trainer. PROBLEM BEHAVIORS ARE EPIDEMIC as a direct result. When a dog is raised so that attention from its owner becomes its metric of connection, THEY DON’T FEEL CONNECTED. This is because the purpose of sociability is not companionship. The purpose is coordinated group action (hunting) in order to overcome objects of resistance (Be The Moose). The joy of companionship and affection follows from this naturally. So giving and withdrawing attention as part of a training regime is part of a dysfunctional loop, not the path to harmony: imagine raising your child to be your companion and using your attention to guide this development? When a dog becomes addicted to its owner’s attention, 25 hours of attention 8 days a week cannot fill this internal deficit. In contrast, affection is not the same as attention. Affection is based on what the object of one’s affection WANTS. Affection is a function of desire, attention is a function of TENSION.

NPR: Bradshaw says dogs naturally want to please and play with people, especially the people who love them.

“[When a puppy’s eyes open it has] a very strong ability to learn about people and … this behavior persists throughout life,” he says. “And surprisingly, most dogs, given the choice, will actually prefer human company to other dog company.”

Studies indicate that dogs will naturally gravitate toward humans, though Bradshaw says how that idea gets into a dog’s developing brain is still somewhat of a mystery.

Bradshaw: “But they have an exaggerated tendency to learn from anything that people do right from the minute they’re capable of doing it,” he says. “They’re particularly sensitive to human body language — the direction we look in, what our whole body language is telling them, pointing gestures. They are much more sensitive to things like that than almost any other species on the planet.”

KB: There is no mystery, it’s fully explained in “Natural Dog Training” and “Your Dog Is Your Mirror.”  The dog’s attraction to human beings and their capacity to divine and respond to our FEELINGS, is not an idea, IT IS A FEELING.

The strongest drive in a dog is to be in harmony, however THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A DESIRE TO PLEASE. The phrase is an oxymoron, a self-defeating logic loop. If someone does something to please someone, then they are not doing it from pure desire. Desire knows no reason.

Every animal is attracted to every other animal and because dogs have the highest emotional capacity of any animal, they can actually consummate this feeling of attraction to humans because they have access to the deep emotional core that encodes for social behavior. Human beings are not apart from the natural order of things. We are a part of nature. Emotionally, human beings represent the “path of highest resistance” in nature. Dogs are attracted to human beings because they evolved from wolves that are likewise attracted to the path of highest resistance (large dangerous prey animals that fights back) and can connect by feel. Dogs can feel what we feel just as wolves can feel what the moose feels.

Bradshaw: “The main [myth] … is that wolves are essentially an intrinsically aggressive animal that is continuously trying to take over whatever group they find themselves in and dominate it. And the new wolf biology really exposed that as an artifact — that particular view of wolves came from wolves in zoos and in wildlife parks, where a bunch of unrelated wolves were basically put together and told to get on with it and, not surprisingly, they got on with it by being aggressive toward one another. The new picture of wolf society is that wolves are harmonious animals. They live in family groups. They get along really well together, and they’re almost never aggressive to one another. The aggression comes out when two families meet, so they have very strong family ties.”


KB: “Natural Dog Training” explained in 1992 how wolf society is a self-organizing system based on emotion. Since then, science abandoned the dominance model for the new mantra  that packs of wolves are extended family groups as if this explains their social organization. The question remains, why do wolf families get extended, what keeps them together? Every litter of foxes and coyotes begin as a family, but then it collapses as they mature and they go their separate way.  African Wild Dogs are even more extended and yet the domesticated dog didn’t emerge from this branch of the species either. The simple logic is inescapable, the evolution of the prey controls the evolution of the predator that hunts it.

So don’t wait for science, Keep On Pushing!

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Published May 27, 2011 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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