The prey drive, manifested by a full, calm grip on a bite object and most importantly, by the body moving along with a smooth flowing gait, is like the Central Processing Unit in a computer: as the CPU turns electrical inputs from the key board into information—the prey drive turns neurological inputs from the brain into information. The former turns energy into information by running electricity through a series of logic gates, the prey drive turns neurological inputs into information by running the body through a circle. Anatomy, physiology and neurology evolved in service to this circle, Temperament, because this is how potential energy becomes information, i.e. sociability.
A dog in prey drive is feeling connected to its “self” by way of feeling grounded into a preyful aspect and in this state it can learn that any change it perceives and experiences is merely energy that travels through its body and into this ground, therefore it is good. Energy running through its body and into an emotional ground IS ITS MIND and in such a mind, even pressure can feel energizing (thus categorizing the source of pressure as potential energy, and since the fundamental motive of all behavior is toward potential energy, this categorizes the source of pressure not as pressure but rather as access to a positive, i.e. the number one positive, potential energy. In the mindset of negative-as-access-to-positive, a dog is induced to “flip polarity” and this in turn will help the source of pressure (for example another dog) change its state of mind as well so that social behavior emerges.
This means that an object of attraction can serve as an emotional “midpoint,” an emotional fulcrum or what I term a “group trigger” around which two dogs can revolve and resolve the pressure they are both putting on each other. In other words, they don’t have to have something in their mouth to feel grounded, they feel grounded by subliminally referencing their heart. In this mind, the rhythm of heart becomes the indicator of flow, the feeling that they are safe and their emotion is moving.
A dog references the midpoint by subliminally focusing on its heart. When a dog is gaiting smoothly, he is referencing a subliminal focal beam on his heart because this is where the physical center of gravity is housed when a body is in motion. If on the other hand, a dog loses focus on the midpoint, then the emotional process of social elaboration crashes, just as for example a computer’s processer crashes when there’s more demand for its capacity than it can handle. So the more energy the dog can channel into the midpoint, the more resistance/stress/pain it can handle without crashing. We are raising its “prey threshold” by increasing how much energy can travel down the subliminal beam of reference onto the heart.
This video helps to visualize the process. Notice the discrepancy between the two dogs. One is clear about the bite, the other is fixated on the eyes. One is going by hunger circuitry, one by balance, the GSD is looking to objectivy the preyful aspect into an object that deflects its attention from the other dog. But the Westy gets stuck in vision and hits his overload. But is the Westy wrong? Not exactly. The Westy can feel that within the GSD is a resevoir of unchanneled energy and if they were to really get going, the Westy would quickly feel overwhelmed and so even though things begin between the two dogs really well, when the Westy feels the GSD’s emotion start to release, his CPU crashes, in other words, he can’t feel a pull to an emotional midpoint so that he can deflect his attention onto, he feels disconnected from his “self” and so his mind outbursts in order to bring his emotional equilibrium back into balance. However during the course of this exercise, we can see the Westy beginning to objectify his attraction toward the shepherd onto an object he can indeed grip as he struggles to get to the bite object and ends up getting some good bites in. What I’m allowing each dog to learn (feel) is how to get themselves out of a desparately intense situation. The video is characterized by a series of connections, break downs, and then recoveries. By having them bark at me, I am inducing them to project their “self” into me, and since I turn my attention onto the bite object, this deflects them onto the bite object so that it can serve as the emotional midpoint. (Note however that the Westy wants the object that I don’t want him to have, I want him to have the soft fluffy toy, he wants the hard sausage. I want him to want the sausage, he goes for the soft fluffy toy. This is a pack instinct, i.e. no two individuals can want the same thing with the same degree of intensity.)
So I’m helping them smooth out the intense spikes of overstimulation (which are connected to physical memories of being attacked by other dogs) into a smooth wave function, i.e. moving about a circle with an emotional midpoint firmly in the grip.
The most important point is that because dogs are social by nature, they will always choose potential energy when they can feel it. By raising a dog’s prey threshold we are increasing its capacity to feel when under a high rate of change (intensity/resistance). ONLY THE HEART CAN FEEL POTENTIAL ENERGY. The brain can’t feel a thing.
In the final frame I approach from a different direction to allow the GSD to get “under the charge” so that the two dogs can stand next to each other. This helps latent learning occur so that as the overwhelming sensations slowly subside from their body in the hours after the exercise, they will then be able to feel the preyful aspect of their partner from that moment (this is why the emotional battery is so essential to sociability, not only in the moment as in plugging the (+) pole to the (-) pole, and then the N to the S in the higher level of elaboration, but because it allows “dots to be connected” as the sensations start to subside. The dog has the image of what he was afraid of, but also the memory of its preyful aspect, and the battery couples these together to satisfy the template of Temperament as a circle. In the process of latent learning, one dog then gives the other dog “credit” for having brought that energy to the degree of grounding that they were able to achieve, and he can feel potential energy, in other words, that he “left money on the table” by his mind being so concerned with balance. This is why it is so important to not indulge in guilt when bad things happen. (The Westy even got a tuft of the GSDs’ hair.) It’s only energy. Because there is so much judgment against energy in modern dogdom, is why aggressive explosions and phobic implosions are so common in the modern dog.
Join the exclusive and interactive group that will allow you to ask questions and take part in discussions with the founder of the Natural Dog Training method, Kevin Behan.
Join over 65 Natural Dog trainers and owners, discussing hundreds of dog training topics with photos and videos!
We will cover such topics as natural puppy rearing, and how to properly develop your dog's drive and use it to create an emotional bond and achieve obedience as a result.
Now you can join a subscription-based study group specifically for the Natural Dog Training method, which provides a direct line to its founder to ask your questions about its core exercises, raising a puppy right, rehabilitating an aggressive dog, and more.Signup Today Learn more
Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin BehanIn 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.|