Stump the Chump

Thanks to Christine for suggesting this section! The following is an excerpt from her comment:

“My first contribution is a scenario:
A few years ago my family was out at camp. My sister brought her dog “Happy” a very nervous and high-strung beagle mix. The first thing she did was to bite Duncan in the face! Duncan did not retaliate but later in the day, she and Duncan were hitched up opposite each other but not within striking distance. We were all sitting in the sun room and watched this scene unfold:

Happy was barking (obnoxiously) in Duncan’s face and wouldn’t stop. Duncan stood facing her and would look left and then look right, he’d turn around with his back to her and turn to look at her. All the while, every movement he made was slow and seemingly deliberate. As this scene played out, Happy stopped barking and watched Duncan intently. Before long they were standing in parallel both looking in the same direction and Happy was much calmer. At the time, this seemed to confirm Turid Rugaas’ explanations of Calming Signals. I’d like to hear Kevin’s explanation of NDT.

My first ‘Stump the Chump’ question is: Why is it that some dogs wait until their people come home before they will evacuate their bowels? (That is, for those dogs who are not crated all day and are let out by other people or are free to dump during the day.)”


Once we understand that a feeling is a wave, and that a wave is composed by two beings as equal and yet opposites relative to the other we can see that the two incidents {a) Happy and Duncan and (b) a dog waiting for the owner to come home in order to poop} are in fact variants on the same phenomenon.

a) The direct and intense expression of focused energy by Happy biting Duncan was an electrostatic discharge and so Duncan migrated to the magnetic polarity whereby he would be induced to express his energy via a deflected manner. And because he wasn’t matching her intensity with his own intensity, Happy couldn’t find any traction in his feedback and so she began to feel she was wasting energy and began to be tired as electrostatic discharges easily dissipate. By experiencing that she was losing energy by pushing out so much intensity, this gave Duncan a window to look directly at her with small looks, which then began to give her the experience of displacement and hence a strengthening of attraction toward Duncan from a more sober perspective of not wanting to waste any more energy. Meanwhile Duncan was moving side-to-side mirroring her energy (acting prey-like) which induced Happy to align with him along a central line of focus. So this back and forth and then mirroring is indeed calming, but it is not a signal in any way shape or form in regards to displaying one’s intentions relative to another. The two dogs are not two self-contained entities of intelligences, separate agencies of being, they are beginning to become one wave function, Duncan basically absorbing and smoothing out the electrical spikes of “Happy” until they collectively can describe one wave function. Duncan has a stronger temperament and so he will orient to the magnetic to balance Happy but he has no cognitive understanding of what he’s doing, he’s simply feeling more and can thereby feel the open magnetic polarity since Happy is occupying the electric one.

b) What’s going on between any two dogs is but a macroscopic extension of what’s going on within any dog via its bipolar, two-brain makeup. Big-Brain neuro-chemical electrical activity has to be grounded into little-brain smooth muscle peristaltic action in order for a dog to experience that it is emotionally digesting its surroundings and what’s happening to it. So to a dog, a feeling is a wave and the strongest organ of wave generation is the systemic rhythmic action of the stomach and intestines. In other words, a dog doesn’t make a distinction between a bowel movement and a feeling, which is why they turn around to inspect their own elimination since it is the only object available to account for what “touched” them. So when an owner praises his dog for eliminating, then the owner is associating himself with that wave function of a bowel movement, the owner is becoming the object of that feeling (which is why it’s even possible to housetrain a dog or cat in the first place) and thus becoming a component to this wave function. This means that a dog is attracted to his owner with the feeling of a strong intestinal contraction, the dog is emotionally “digesting” its owner, and because the peristaltic involuntary action of its deep smooth muscles is rhythmic, it’s pleasurable. So the dog gets excited to see its owner, and earliest physical memories come to the surface and the entire system gets revved up. For this reason when I work aggressive dogs, I contrive for them to relieve themselves next to another dog so that they give the other dog credit as the object for what made them feel good. If I can get them to synchronized pooping, I know it’s only a matter of time until they will want to play with each other because that’s the ultimate experience of emotional digestion.

*Please feel free to use the comments section of this post to pose your own Stump the Chump challenge!*

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Published June 21, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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72 responses to “Stump the Chump”

  1. Christine says:

    Regarding Bruce Lee: I did get him to push for food and he also did some pushing for Shannon. I’ll post to YouTube eventually but for right now, at one point during the pushing with me Bruce Lee attacked my hand rather viciously and did indeed draw blood. What’s up with that? I did manage to keep myself collected well enough to praise him and do some massaging strokes afterwards. After the session I was picking up bits of spilled kibble and he attacked my hand again (who knew little dog teeth could be so hard‼ LOL). Your thoughts, sensai? I also let them borrow my NDT book as it has a couple of chapters on dogs and kids and Bruce Lee has bitten their daughter Olivia a couple of times (I think she was acting prey-like).
    Ben (the dad) refers to Kevin’s unique expressions as “DOGISMS”. I rather like the word, what do you all think? It should be added to Kevin’s “Definitions” as anything relating to dogs, don’t you think?

  2. kbehan says:

    When you make resistance, the dog is regressed into his emotional battery and this triggers physical memories specific to the intensity of the resistance being offered, (the intensity will be amplified by the fact that a stranger is doing the pushing and that the pushing is novel) and this means that if the dog has ever been hit, it comes up. The dog actually feels you hitting him and so it defends itself. To keep from being bitten, have the dog jump up first and accustom it to being massaged with the hand that is going to be doing the resistance. At all times pay attention to the state of the dog, don’t make any rational assumptions because this will knock you out of resonance with what’s really going on. You will be able to feel that the dog is going to bite you before it goes to bite you. I look forward to the video.

  3. kbehan says:

    Dobermans do the darndest things. The first thing that strikes me in the video is how neatly the toys are arranged on the banister as the dog’s owner is being interviewed and how plush and comfortable the chair is, with the dog snuggling in, I can’t escape the imagery of a bar of steel (dog) immersed in a magnetic field (owner). I think the dog’s sorting behavior is akin to crop circles, in that the dog is tuning in to his owner’s energy and then best expressing it. I think it would bother the woman if one of the stuffed toys was facing the wrong way on a shelf, or if astray she would have pangs of alienation. I wouldn’t be surprised if she talks to the toys as she sorts them into their proper positions and places. In my model, every feeling has a geometry, an angle of deflection around a force of momentum, so I think the dog is expressing the underlying pattern to what its owner is feeling by these symmetrical arrangements. I think the woman must crave tactile contact, she seems very warm and engaging, someone who you would be immediately at ease with, I think she likes to be close to people, I suspect she’s generous, but then I wonder if she’s protecting herself through some kind of organization impulse, keeping things in an orderly way to feel safe. The most fascinating aspect of the behavior is its non-focused manner, the dog begins with shaking and prancing around but can’t keep going with the drive in the natural sequence, and so because of its fear but also because it is in a safe setting, is able to tune in to the underlying energy and its pattern and can’t feel RIGHT until a symmetry is achieved. This is akin to the softer wolves deflecting around the moose according to a circle. The dog doesn’t tear the toy up to get to the essence, it achieves attunement with the essence by bringing the underlying template of geometrical order to physical expression. Dogs do everything in a circle and the triangle is a sacred symbol in mystical and religious traditions. This video speaks more to how early man and canine connected and communicated than any other research project to date. The rapport between the woman and her dog is touching.

  4. Crystal says:

    Hey Kevin.

    I could use a little clarification on a situation I had with Colt today. We’ve been doing great BTW. I can control him around bikes and joggers without shutting him down at all and he is barking far less at approaching strangers. It is rare actually and only woofy. Easily redirected to me.

    However today we were leaving the morning trail, came around a bend and he saw two teens standing on the edge of the path who were obviously afraid of dogs. One of the boys was a challenged child. They both stood frozen to the spot looking at Colt and sort of smiling.

    Colt got very charged up and barked. Lots. Not woofy. I was able to call him to me, but it took me three calls and I had to get loud and sharp. I leashed him. He pulled toward them and barked more of course, now that he was restrained. Bea got in on it, but hushed as soon as I said enough. For Colt it was like I wasn’t there.

    So was it their heart on the sleeve fear? This is the first time he has checked out on me in over a month. He was electric.

    Suggestions to help him in these situations. I have a good lie down on both of them and a good recall, but obviously this put Colt over threshold. I don’t know how I could set up this situation to push with him near it. Any ideas?

    Think I am reading it right?

  5. kbehan says:

    The way to look at this is that this situation triggered a deeper layer in his emotional battery that you haven’t yet attracted, it’s tuned to this kind of energy. That they were so still in the woods, is a particular malevolence, sometimes a dogs hackles will raise when you take him into a stand of tall plantation pines that had been planted in rows. So you have to duplicate that situation, first just with Colt. Have someone standing still and with a stick in their hand even. When Colt notices them, you take the time to pet and praise him no matter what he’s doing. Then you get the push for food, then the bite toy. Move closer and closer with the goal being for the dog to carry the toy and shake it when he gets stressed. If things went perfectly it could end with stranger making tug on a line attached to toy. And if he really softens, you could have him jump up and make contact with stranger. This will not only soften him to people who are afraid of dogs but are not genuine threats, and make it very easy to control him, and also embolden him and strengthen his drive were you to actually run into a real bad guy. Another scenario is to channel the sound of a ripping bush, as if something is bursting out from cover. You have to anticipate what could be a trigger so that you have an opportunity to attract, channel and calm a deeper layer. This is also a wonderful example as to how the battery ties moments together rather than thoughts because in Colt’s system, this incident is connected to an earlier event, so the charge is coming out coherently, months if not years later and the dog has no idea that is you there, or that he “knows” his commands. He only “knows” his commands at a certain energy state, just like we only know how to drive a car up to a certain rate of speed. And a final point is that positive experiences can’t trigger the deeper layers of the battery as they are reserved for moments of intense crisis/drama/conflict. So you have to recapitulate the intensity as best you can in order to gain access. The deep battery is the “network socket connection” that the mind does not have autonomous access to, it takes a trigger. Keep on Pushing!

  6. Ben says:

    Thanks for sharing Crystal– your post and Kevin’s reply brings up more questions!

    You mention that Crystal should pet and praise Colt no matter what’s going on.. so even if a dog is in an electric state: barking, pulling like mad, you should praise and pet? The reason I ask is because I’ve done this in the past but it doesn’t *seem* to have any immediate effect.. as Crystal said, it’s like you don’t exist. Is there something happening beneath the surface?

    Also, when trying to attract a dog to push in a conflict moment.. I’ve found that if *I* really increase my excitement and enthusiasm, it can help Nelly redirect to me. Is this a good way to lower the resistance a dog has to you in the moment, or should the handler remain more or less calm in charged situations?

  7. Heather says:

    Also following onto Ben’s question re: redirection, what if the really desired bite toy isn’t available and pushing-for-food isn’t totally resolving the charge, is it OK to just play rough with the dog? Happy loves one particular bite toy, a rubber chicken, which is really inconvenient to carry around, and there have been times I know I could really have grounded out his energy just by playing, but do not want to undo any of the bite-toy training we’ve done.

  8. kbehan says:

    You’re right, when the dog is really charged it won’t have any visible effect, but I can assure you that it is feeling a tiny, tiny, pull of attraction your way, just not strong enough to be an energy circuit under that “load.” And also remember by setting it up with a friendly stranger, the dog can be attracted to the stranger and as the energy starts to ebb, you will be able to hook your “eyes” or negative into the circuit. And if the energy on the other hand gets grounded into the decoy person, then the charge to strangers is diminishing. Also, another intrinsic way to increase your intensity value is to fast the dog so that it is more hungry in a charged situation, and then another less intrinsic way, is to overtly increase your intensity. So for example, Crystal could walk Colt into the woods and then tie him to a sapling and go out of sight and then skulk around until she gets a charge out of him. Then she can soften it with the push, speak, supple to the touch, rub-a-dub routine. And then to your point of getting rough play that can work really well also, I will grab the dog with my hand as if I’m another dog biting at him, somewhat seriously (be careful) just to get that deep valve open. Once that valve opens, then the gusher will follow.

  9. kbehan says:

    After a dog’s drive is strong enough, it won’t matter what the toy is, the dog won’t have any special toys albeit that I like to keep the sacred toy out of view except for the special occasion of the buffalo hunt during the great migration. So it would be worth it to take the rubber chicken along so that you don’t leave any energy on the table. The problem with playing rough without a toy is that the dog has to hold back if it doesn’t have something it can really sink its teeth into. The rough play is to raise your intensity value, then it needs to be grounded into a bite or push.

  10. Heather says:

    Ah, OK, I get it. Happy would likely grab an arm then move to clothing and not hold back. I would like to try. Grounding him with pushing after roughing him a bit, to see the result. I still have some kid-chasing, he holds back from being rough with the kids, but for now it’s still what you’d call “strict accounting”, he needs to dump energy relatively soon to stay in the flow.

  11. Crystal says:

    Thx Kevin. I will set up the scenario you suggest with the stranger in the woods with a stick.

    Would you mind explaining further how this would work for me?

    “… and then another less intrinsic way, is to overtly increase your intensity. So for example, Crystal could walk Colt into the woods and then tie him to a sapling and go out of sight and then skulk around until she gets a charge out of him. Then she can soften it with the push, speak, supple to the touch, rub-a-dub routine. ”

    I understand the mechanics, but not how this would help remedy the overtly scared stranger situation.

  12. Crystal says:

    Oh, and damn I meant all of this to be in the new wonderful question section. Ooops.

  13. kbehan says:

    I’ll try to knock out a brief article explaining it in further detail.

  14. Donnie_O says:

    I just thought of another Stump the Chump question.

    I was watching a clip of Schutzhund courage tests, and every single dog had one shared behaviour: their ears were pricked up while they were at the heel, then went back as they ran toward the helper. Then, a second or two before they reached the helper their ears pricked up again. What’s going on here?

  15. kbehan says:

    When a dog’s ears are pricked forward, it is projecting into the preyful aspect, like a pole vaulter physically computing the launch point, so when positively motivated in heeling and bitework in the face of a moving target it’s constantly updating the GPS input. Now in the pursuit and at the exact moment of making contact with the helper in the courage test, the issue of resistance to making contact (predatory aspect) is being dealt with and thus the ears go back. Additionally, the ears back and the closing of the inner eye lid protect sensitive regions, although always bear in mind that the physical mechanics always follow from the emotional dynamic, not the other way around.

  16. Christine says:

    Kewl‼ I love watching schutzhund…talk about THRILLING! 🙂

  17. Donnie_O says:

    I kind of guessed that there was a practical reason for the ears going back, but as I’m learning there is always a deeper meaning to it.

  18. Crystal says:

    Ok I have to share this. I am still laughing.

    I was just playing with a tug toy with Colt and Bea. I was on the sofa, (yes we play in the house sometimes). Bea brought the tug toy. We tugged briefly. I let her win. She brings toy. I say drop. She does. I throw to Colt across the room. He catches. Bea grabs on. They tug. I say drop. Bea brings me the toy. I tug with her. Let her win. She brings it. I say drop, throw to Colt, he catches, they tug together and so on like this for about five minutes. We were getting into it big time. Very up and very fluid and very consistent in pattern.

    I decide to read my book. They are in the tugging with each other phase. The come over closer to me. Tugging vigorously. I look for my page. Neither of them are going to let go of the toy. I start reading, but can see them, feel them. They are going for all they are worth, wrenching and twisting and tugging. Then suddenly they both freeze. Neither are pulling, but they both have a hold of the small toy. Neither moves a hair. They stare at the toy in their mouths. This goes on and on. Frozen like ice. Statues. No sounds. I have never seen this happen before. I think how long can they stay like that, when two sets of eyes swivel at the exact same time to mine. Nothing else moves on either dog. Their eyes go to the toy again, then both switch to me again and back to the toy. They have been frozen in time for almost a minute now. I say what I think both are waiting for. Drop. Plunk to the floor goes the tug toy. I crack up laughing and get jumped by two dogs. Bea is quick to pick up the tug before she jumps on me.

    It was very very funny. The looks in their eyes were priceless.

    Talk about a loop of energy. I dropped out and together they pulled me back in.

    You know living with two dogs allows one to observe “dog” much more easily. It is clear that this is what “dogs” do, as opposed to say, Colt does this. These two pups are opposites in most ways and yet their reactions are always uniform, just different intensity levels.

  19. Christine says:

    sensai…in NDT terms, why do we cry?

  20. kbehan says:

    A MOTION runs through us. It’s interesting that we regard emotion as a fluid, it’s something that flows. Meanwhile our personality resists the flow, which is adaptive in the sense of building up energy for later expression, and when this persona dissolves, we become more fluid, tears being a physical manifestation of this current moving more freely. When we hold the current back, we can become angry, depressed, and also, experience sadness and grief. I found it interesting that during the NBA Finals Kobe Bryant didn’t cry, but was clearly expressing unabridged joy. This means to me that (professionally) he isn’t holding back in his persona and so there isn’t any grief attached to his talents.

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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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