The “Transparency Challenge”

The ALS ice bucket challenge has inspired a dog training version called the “Transparency Challenge.” It consists of three questions; What happens when the dog gets it right? What happens when a dog gets it wrong? Is there a less intrusive method? Having watched a number of trainers answer these questions apparently the proper formula is to always be positive, ignore the negative and then control the environment so that the dog isn’t confronted with a negative until he proves ready for it.

This is a clever marketing device designed, it seems to me, to “Out” those of us who believe that it is appropriate under certain circumstances to correct a dog and to, if necessary, intrude on a dog’s construct of reality. At any rate, that’s the most charitable view because this so-called transparency challenge really smacks of being a purity test. And is it any wonder that dog trainers of what’s now being called the “balanced” variety, are a bit opaque about the subject of corrections when the atmosphere of discussion has been so poisoned by the positive and force free school of thought to the point of being a taboo? This reminds me of just how open minded these science-based folks were when I argued against neutering, or letting the dog play tug and ALWAYS winning. So while my ideas of when and how to correct a dog differ from any other method (as per my Pavlov articles), and while it’s important to realize that it’s always possible to abuse any piece of equipment or approach, I do believe that it is okay to “correct” a dog after a proper foundation is laid and that a correction need not be aversive and neither does it have to shut a dog down. However let me go a little father and say that sometimes it is appropriate to SHUT A CRAZY DOG DOWN. This doesn’t mean that this should be a systemic approach, but when one is dealing with primordial instinct in tight spaces sometimes one’s options are limited and we need not accept the methodological straightjacket the force-free school is intent on shackling the dog training community within.

What would a Dental transparency challenge look like? Well, I go to an excellent Dentist and he always uses the least intrusive method for any given procedure. But does he sometimes use a very intrusive method with razor sharp implements wherein one slip of the hand could do severe danger? Yes, unfortunately given my oral history, often (but fortunately and lately thanks to him, not so much). Have I ever had a dental procedure that rocked my skull and body with pain for days after the novocaine wore off? Yes, that was the time I had four wisdom teeth pulled. Did I voluntarily choose to have these procedures done to me? Yes. But did my son at age 5 choose to have his impacted tooth pulled out with what was basically a fancy pair of pliers after highly skilled dental finesse couldn’t get the job done? No he did not choose that to be done to him. Of course now with a mouth full of healthy teeth he’s glad we did.

All the good trainers I know always choose the least intrusive method when doing so is the right approach. (And how is it again that neutering, doggy prozac and jaw cuff devices are non-intrusive?) In the interest of total transparency the real question that should have been asked is can we ever really and truly control the environment? What happens when despite our best management techniques and the best-laid plans the negative realities of life on planet earth INTRUDE ON US?

What’s pernicious about this challenge is the saccharine view of the dog’s mind it presents; the idea that all a dog wants to do is maximize pleasure and minimize pain. This doesn’t articulate or encapsulate the canine mind, it neuters it. In my reading of animal nature, the human animal included, the Negative (Predatory Aspect) is the kernel around which an animal’s view of reality is constructed, and therefore it proves to be the basis of trust, not the positive.

The positives of life are meant to be taken for granted (this is why I say it takes a million yeses to get to the first NO). For example,  when we drive a car we take the positives as a given: the road goes where the map says it goes, there’s gas, food and lodging along the way if we want it. Whereas it’s the negative that defines our driving mind’s construct of reality, Where’s the erratic driver, will a deer jump out, will there be a child playing in the middle of the road around the next bend, and most especially, where’s the trooper running radar? Mastering the negative is how we derive our sense of confidence, autonomy, the feeling that we can go wherever we want to go and are in control of our vehicle and what’s going on around us. And as a passenger it’s our confidence in the drivers‘ capacity to handle the negative that allows us to extend to them our trust in kind. Their positivity doesn’t factor in one iota to that formulation.

It’s not coincidental that the rise in positive and hyper-motivation training methodologies parallels the incredible rise of aggression and phobias in the modern dog. This is because one cannot control the environment and if you don’t know where the predator is, then the predator can be anywhere and everywhere. The reality of life on earth is that confronting the negative and mastering stress is the key to feeling safe and so that one can with a care free heart pursue the simple pleasures and confidently tackle the complex issues of life’s “persistent problems.”

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Published September 3, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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40 responses to “The “Transparency Challenge””

  1. Rip says:

    Brilliant. Thank you. These petty tyrants need to be called out. In their blinkered, all-consuming conceits and self-righteousness they’re destroying dogs, dog training and the integrity of the human-dog relationship.

  2. Jamey Smythe says:

    Once again, Kevin. Beautifully thought out and clearly written. Your writings often clarify observations that I’ve questioned myself. My little pit mix has been a victim of my starting out purely positive. He loves the clicker and shaping, but walks were always a drag, literally! He was 3 years old before I ever heard of NDT. He’s four now. I am a relatively new dog handler and I found it very difficult getting through the exaggerations and biased information within the field. So many trainers are diametrically opposed to each other but still stay within the human and child psychology explanations. I read your book NDT and I just finished “Your Dog is Your Mirror” and I agree that the dominance system is basically a way to suppress real emotions and fear. Isn’t this how we are expected to interact with each other in our modern society?
    Thanks very much

  3. Ben says:

    Agree with your points regarding what the “challenge” insinuates, but I also wanted to counterbalance with the opposite end of the spectrum:


    “You need to hang this dog until he passes out when he does this. Its not that simple though. There is a program here.

    1- You need to do EVERYTHING I say on the dominant dog article. This needs to be done for several weeks longer if there are things you have been doing wrong.
    2- You should pick your fights – the time and place.
    3- Get a good hidden sleeve.
    4- Get one of the dominant dog collars they are collars designed for hanging a dog that bites the handler). Using the right collar is VERY, VERY important in this process.
    5- You need a second person to help here.
    6- Have a line over a tree limb or something like that. Heel the dog up to it and sit him. Connect the line over the tree limb to the dogs hanging collar.
    7- With the hidden sleeve on – reach under that arm and flank the dog -hard so the dog will turn and bite the hidden sleeve.
    8- When he bites your back up hangs the dog. You raises the dog off the ground but only with the feet about 2 inches off the ground. He does this until the dog passes out or just starts to pass out (more than likely the dog will shit or piss).
    9- The most important part here is for you to remain totally calm – no screaming, no jerking, no loud commands. Very calmly tell him “No, No, No You Will Not Bite Me. Remaining clam is the most important part of this entire process. If you scream and fight the dog the dog will pass out and wake up and want to continue fighting
    10- Do this three times on the first day. Do it three times the second day. Then skip a day and try it again. You are looking for the point where he will not bite you.
    11- When he will not bite you in the back yard – then set him up and do it in other locations (you pick the spots).
    12- When you can’t set him up in other locations – then test him around items – i.e. his food dish – taking his ball away – when you do this – let him drag a leash – posture yourself – act like you are trying to sneak up and take it – act hesitant – try and bring out the dominant problem – then when he tries to bite – hang him with his leash.

    If you do this properly you will solve this problem. The important thing to understand about hanging is that it is not painful for the dog. It just takes the dogs air away.”

    So while I agree that there are some in the positive school of thought that rely heavily on creating shame and guilt in order to advance their positions, there are others on the opposite end of the scale that use a thin veil of narrow rationality and reason to advance what is clearly abuse and violence.

    One must be grounded by compassion and morality in order to be humane– this need not mean that one adopt a hedonistic, “force-free” approach, but it means avoiding getting wrapped up in narrow ideology and constantly evaluating your approach.

    So when it comes to “shutting a crazy dog down”, that indeed should be transparent.

  4. b... says:

    What no one is talking about is the increasing in number of dogs being destroyed in not only shelters, but vet offices, because their escalating aggression is deemed evidence of “neurological” instability or genetic defect. Increasingly you hear stories of someone taking their reactive dog to the vet for a checkup and leaving dogless because the dog bit and didn’t respond to restraint. If an underlying medical cause can’t be identified (thyroid is a popular bogeyman), and psychiatric meds don’t work, then it seems that you just got a lemon.

    The same experts who say that corrections are inhumane just as quickly remind us that it a dog is “unstable” we shouldn’t hesitate to consider euthanasia because a fearful life is a miserable life. Seemingly only lethal force is permitted in this paradigm. It’s the Cujo model of behavior modification.

  5. Micheline says:

    Well said and thought out. I love my dogs, I love to be kind and natural and will do as little as it takes, but I will do what it takes to have a happy calm dog. Life is about living in harmony and every dog is different. Creating a dog that thinks takes time and sometimes (time out) just doesn’t get it. Thanks again for your article.

  6. Rip says:

    “And is it any wonder that dog trainers of what’s now being called the “balanced” variety, are a bit opaque about the subject of corrections when the atmosphere of discussion has been so poisoned by the positive and force free school of thought to the point of being a taboo?”

    This is a shame and a failure of nerve by balanced trainers. I discuss corrections at every opportunity in terms of their humaneness. We need to take back the language and flip the PP’s rhetorical bullying back in their faces. In certain circumstances it is actually and demonstrably INHUMANE NOT to use corrections (including the hanging technique). This is the central issue to me – what and who are really being humane and inhumane here. I’m tired of pious and pinched lectures on morality and compassion by people who’ve never had to handle a truly problematic dog and its clueless and despairing owner at the end of the line and facing the harshest of realities.

  7. Jamey Smythe says:

    Can’t see the need of this one. I bet it’s old Leerburg and they don’t do it any more.

  8. Ben says:

    I think care needs to be taken not to use the same straw man arguments that some in the positive camp have used against those trainers / owners that use corrections. Specifically, the idea that positive trainers are going to be recommending euthanasia left-and-right for any problem dog that doesn’t immediately respond to training. This is inverse to the notion that a dog owner that uses corrections means that they angrily hang their dog until it passes out for any little infraction. Do these things happen? Sure. Are they representative of anything more than a very small minority? No, probably not.

    It’s possible to justify any training technique by applying the stamp of Reason, Reasonableness, and Logic (or inversely Moral and Ethical Superiority) which insinuates that they are unassailable and sound– completely discarding common sense along the way. If one cannot see the danger inherent in this, then one is ignoring history. It produces the types of situations where someone would argue that hanging a dog until it passes out is humane in any situation.

    Moreover, I think it’s worth applying the same criticism inwardly as NDT does outwardly. For example, in Kevin’s post we see: “control the environment so that the dog isn’t confronted with a negative until he proves ready for it.” in reference to what most trainers do. This is exactly what Kevin recommends with puppies– not putting them in an environment which they aren’t ready for. It would be a silly decision to stick a puppy in a room full of shoes and socks it wasn’t allowed to play with, because doing so may expose it to a negative (getting corrected, yelled at, etc). So while “thresholds” (or whatever term you want to use) is an appropriate concept when dealing with a puppy, there is criticism leveled at positive trainers using it with adult dogs. Just some food for thought and that generally more insight can be gained, IMO, from looking inwardly rather than constantly looking outwardly.

  9. Kevin Behan says:

    Always remember Ben that only one side is trying to ban certain training tools and legislate the other out of existence. Let’s just let the light of day shine and may the best ideas prevail.

  10. Jamey Smythe says:

    Speaking about legislating out of existence; England has gone so far as to ban e collars and they are working to stop pinch colors. Isn’t it ironic that they have now moved past the u s in dog aggression and bites?

  11. b... says:

    The aim is not advocacy for corrections – after all NDT doesn’t have anything to do with punishment or avoidance of negative consequences. Just pointing out the contradiction specifically of the force-free-with-the-exception-of-lethal-force camp, which appears to be growing, with an increasing number of vets on board.

    Seems to me the more insidious issue is the related trend towards abdication of the handler’s role in a dog’s behavior. There’s a growing culture of owner self-pity and deflected guilt. Owners of reactive dogs are consoled with a mantra of “you did the best you could”, and the fact that the dog became unmanageable in their care is attributed to bad genes, breed traits, prior history (rescue), or most strangely, to the non-R+ training contingent that often had nothing to do with the dog.

    The fact that the dog was exposed to extreme pressure via stimulation in the name of affection or “socialization” and will-shattering obedience in the name of “mental stimulation” is all overlooked because as long as it was “positive”, something else must be at fault.

  12. Julie Forlizzo says:

    I need to be clear – is “hanging” a dog an approved technique of NDT? I’ve never heard of this before, and I’m hoping it is not an accepted technique. Yes or No please???

  13. Martin says:

    I really found the description of the “negative” and how this works for the dog very helpful One of the things I am wondering centers around is what Ben begins to bring up about puppies. The question is if we have a puppy that is raised without correction, over stimulation, etc. how does it define a negative. Is the negative automatically assigned to the human? If the puppy is not charged when young and sees a deer and we push with the dog I would assume that is what allows the dog to keep the human as the big negative. Resistance in the pushing is the negative.
    If we take another example of a puppy that was corrected or overstimulated the puppy is forced to rely on more instinctual responses because the owner is perceived to be a block to hunting drive or in the case of over stimulation an environment is created that moves faster than the speed of a hunt without the teamwork element and often times without the appropriate resolution. ( the bite) So…the NDT exercises work on the principals of group hunting but “corrections” are able to resonate throughout the whole body of the dog as THE NEGATIVE and this weaves into the core exercises ….. which gets flipped with the corrections….and hence the Moose…100% attraction but also a big negative. The NDT puppy is able to feel 100% attraction but does not need correction because all of the little negatives…hide and seek, tug, lead to the human. And if you were training a NDT puppy for specialized work like police work you would want to introduce more corrections because you are asking for the dog to have a higher threshold…to be able to fight and not “snap”

  14. Kevin Behan says:

    Hanging a dog to assert dominance is not an NDT technique. I do a box challenge as you may recall from our Florida seminar and I have some videos relative to vetting and cutting a dogs nails so that a dog that is out of control, can regain a sense of control by mastering a balance challenge. In other words, I objectify the problem so that the dog can solve it with its own innate capacity to master balance challenges.

  15. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Thanks, Kevin, for the clarification. Yes, I remember the box challenge from the Fl seminar, and I’ve used that technique since. That was far from the Leerburg use of “hanging”, which I find barbaric. I have posted on my FB that dominance is misused, overused, and abused. Yes, I have also seen the video relative to the vetting and cutting of dogs’ nails and I understand mastering a balance. Dominance theology has gone too far!!

  16. Brad Higgins says:

    I work with gundogs. My goal is to help the dogs learn that to be successful, they must control their energy. They need to stalk and point the prey, then wait while I pass them, go out front, flush and kill the bird. In addition, they must wait for my verbal release before going to the dead bird.

    Most of the dogs I work with can accomplish this without the use of an e-collar. There are some that cannot control their energy when the bird flushes. They break and chase. For these dogs, when they start the chase, I use a “here” command. This command is reinforced with an e-collar if necessary.

    It has been my experience that more and more gundogs lack the ability to manage or control their energy. I believe this is due to the fact that most are now bred for games instead of hunting. These games (field trials, hunt tests, tournament hunting, etc.) require exceptional drive at the expense of cooperation or biddability. Many of the owners and breeders of these dogs are no longer concerned with biddability. They have replaced natural predator cooperation with obedience backed up with an e-collar. For them, its much easier to push a button, than build and maintain a trusting relationship with their dog.

  17. Ben says:

    Well said B and I agree with you on all points.

  18. Kevin Behan says:

    Thanks for your input Brad. My experience parallels yours. I’ve noticed that all the breeds are becoming terriers and I think this is due to the breeders aiming for the competitive dog sports as their metric of superior breeding. We are now getting field-terriers, agility terriers, schutzhund terriers and obedience trial terriers. Their nervous thresholds are very low so that they are easily stimulated, irritated, frustrated, agitated; and in the hands of the average family pet dog owner, primed for disaster. Very high maintenance.

  19. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes the animal mind construes the world as divvied up by paths of resistance, and the human is always construed as the most intense negative, the path of highest resistance. So without going slowly with the pup it’s almost axiomatic that it will construe the owner as a block under certain circumstances. The challenge is to get a steady-state flow of drive as opposed to the load/overload static like transfer of nerve energy. This is what hide ‘n seek helps to facilitate with the young pup. Eventually as the dog matures and masters the core exercises, the corrections are worked into these exercises so that the dog perceives them as signposts toward success, like mile markers on the highway that indicate progress is being made. Therefore later when the dog inevitably finds itself in conflict over something that it might not be able to innate adapt to (although these will become fewer and farther between as the dogs’ Drive strengthens) the correction can be used as an “insulating” guardrail, a channel to keep the dog flowing in the right direction. I think this is similar to how Brad uses his control devices to keep a dog that can’t manage its energy on the right track. The corrections add intensity to the flow and can actually heighten the dog’s Drive. To acclimate police dogs to the pinch collar we used to double up two collars and post them up and then agitate so that they learned to love that jerking sensation on their neck. Therefore when handler might correct later in the field, dog didn’t take it as an interruption, but as information, an indication of where the channel for its Drive was.

  20. b... says:

    OC trainers use a similar concept of signposts – bridging – except that theirs are auditory rather than corporal. Aside from missing the critical flow foundation before introducing stimuli, is the fundamental difference that leash pressure is resistance that can be subsumed into drive, whereas the click or word is perceived as attention from the big “negative”?

    My understanding is that the modern e-collars are capable of very subtle vibration that feels like a “tap” rather than a “zap”. Could this potentially work as well as leash + collar without creating an electrical problem?

  21. Kevin Behan says:

    That’s exactly right. First of all the leash correction puts a dog in his body with a familiar sensation as dogs run into things all the time, they can easily generate an equal yet opposite counterforce and this is what allows them to process it much better than anything else. If the correction is associated with overcoming resistance, then it is a Drive signpost, whereas the clicker is a predatory aspect and is associated with hunger to be sure otherwise it wouldn’t be performing the task, but most likely a low level of resistance and so therefore it is not necessarily a Drive signpost, and this would be especially true for a dog with strong Drive. An e-collar can be affiliated with overcoming resistance as well (even the highest setting) but don’t forget it is electric, literally, (even the lowest buzz setting) because of course it generates electrical energy. So if a dog is electric already (any interruption of Drive is perceived as an electrical-like experience to the emotional dynamo) this can be bad for him. And since problem dogs are already electric, I don’t use an e-collar. And with my own puppy I wouldn’t use electric because there’s no need once you get high Drive. At any rate, if a dog with strong Drive is associating the electrical input with the prey as ground —– and with overcoming resistance —– (this second part is very often missing), then it is indeed a Drive signpost.

  22. Brad Higgins says:

    b wrote:

    My understanding is that the modern e-collars are capable of very subtle vibration that feels like a “tap” rather than a “zap”. Could this potentially work as well as leash + collar without creating an electrical problem?

    Hello b, you are right. Modern e-collars are adjustable from a very subtle stimulation up to a significant shock. Most also have a vibration or tone feature. I find the problem not in the e-collar but in the user. It’s easy to establish what kind of relationship an owner has with his dog. I ask them a simple question. If you tap that e-collar on a low level and your dog ignores it, what’s your next move. Their answer speaks volumes.

  23. b... says:

    Thanks for the elaboration Brad and Kevin. I was in fact referring to the ‘vibration’ setting rather than the ‘stimulation’ setting, but I don’t know the underlying mechanics of the apparatus so wasn’t sure if vibe would be perceived as mechanical pressure vs. electrical pressure.

  24. Jamey Smythe says:

    I currently use an e collar with my pit mix. It can be very gentle or harsh. My dog loves it when I bring it out to put it on him. Again there is so much hidden language and misstalk about these collars that it took me 3 years to get one and use it. I took a 3 day course on one style of how to use it. I put it on myself to see what was really happening. On my arm I can’t even feel it at the level that my dog responds to. On my neck I can feel it at the same level as the dog. Also, surprisingly, you cannot feel the prongs. My dog was not and never has been a runner. He usually stays around me, but not always. I had inadvertently trained him to pull on a leash and I couldn’t stop . He was trained on recall before I did anything with the collar. He won’t wear a pinch collar since I tried to use one without properly fitting it or knowing how to use it. He won’t walk with any type of leash dragging behind him. He just stands there. He has since he was a puppy. I always thought that it was kind of cool; like drop reining a horse. I believe that I am able to work it into the NDT style of training. As I am just getting into this we’ll see. Ironically I’d never heard of NDT until after I bought the collar and paid for the course. Timing is everything! Ha

  25. cliff says:

    I’ve been working with L to get him to wait patiently after I open the door for him to go out. He didn’t “get it” until I put his leash on and gave him a quick reminder when he wouldn’t wait for “ok”. Much improved. He also loves to have his neck held down while getting outdoor rubs— he gets almost sleepy, and has almost lost the tendency to “bounce up”.

    He’s also getting *very* good at getting his favorite toy, asking for a tug, carrying it, fetching it back, and giving it up. All related, I think.

  26. Julie Forlizzo says:

    I recently heard of veterinarians giving aggressive and “dominant” dogs some kind of injection to block testosterone in the dog’s brain. Does this sound familiar to anyone, and is it possible to block testosterone? How safe is it and does it really prevent aggression?

  27. b... says:

    I think the neutering debate has proven that monkeying around with an animal’s endocrine system is a bad idea not matter how you approach it.

    It seems that our society’s charge – the compulsion towards controlling the “wildness” in our closest animal companions – gets deflected from one path to another but keeps popping up. First it was neutering, then neutering turned out to not be such a good idea, so we’re moving towards medicating the wildness out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the outrage over e-collars is eventually replaced by promotion of “electro-therapy” when the meds turn out to have unanticipated long-term side effects.

  28. Sundog Fitz says:

    Maybe this is not the place to ask this since the topic is about transparency in dog training, but the discussion has moved on to ecollars so I will go ahead and ask and let Kevin move this if necessary.

    As I understand Constructal Law from an evolutionary standpoint, technology is an extension of natural phenomenon, not necessarily artificial. And I recall a psychology professor of mine who was very interested in Sci Fi making a pretty compelling case that because technology is of man and for man it is an extension of man and cannot be seen as separate. He would even go so far as to say that technology was an extension of consciousness, individual and group. It makes me think that ecollars would therefore be a valid and natural next step as a link in human and canine consciousness. I am also thinking about the recent posting about the cells that survived on electricity, a very natural phenomenon. While dogs may not be able to classify electricity as animate or inanimate they definitely experience it in storms and simply living in the human world with TV’s, cars, phones etc.

    I recall the discussion of attribution in the original NDT “Attribution occurs whenever a dog perceives resistance, or a disturbance, to the flow of his drive. At this point it becomes necessary for the dog to identify a living being as the source of such resistance so that a social instinct can be brought to bear on the situation.” You go on to say “if we are going to correct a dog and then show him we are the source of the correction, we’re only going to get panicky, stressed or muted responses rather than excited responses.” The solution is disassociation. “Disassociation is not at all hard to do. Simply by keeping the dog high in drive before, during, and after a correction the attribution process does not occur.” Of course the old style “shock collars” were more about punishment, but as I understand them and as “b” point out, they are now more of a vibration and not a shock, so maybe not a correction, but still a disturbance to flow that could be experienced as something that needs attribution or something that is disassociated from the handler, enhancing drive.

    All this to ask exactly what? I don’t know…maybe just to wonder if dogs already have an ability to enfold an electronic signal?

  29. Skip Skipper says:

    In regards to an ecollar, would their be a place where the shock would be appropriate (at the sight of a poisonous snake for example) or would the risk of that fear bleeding out into other areas be too likely?

  30. Kevin Behan says:

    The very nature of behavior is magnetic and electrical. Whenever a dog’s flow of energy is interrupted, he responds exactly as if he has been electrically shocked. When he approaches something that makes him nervous, one can literally see the electrostatic field he is navigating. A cat likes the break the plane of its water bowl, especially if its shiny, because it perceives the surface tension as an electrostatic charge. And then when electricity flows that creates a magnetic field and this is when we see dogs behaving flexibly and interacting with a supple body language. The problem however is the human intellect (electrical) favors electricity over magnetic (feelings), so we must take care that the flow is more important to us than the control. Therefore anything the dog perceives as a guidepost for Drive, even an electrical shock from an e-collar, is electricity channeled through a magnetic field and is flow. But since most of our dogs are too electric to begin with because they’re living with us, we have to be very prudent about this question and build up a dog’s core dynamic so that it can feel the flow no matter the input. I’ve found that if the core dynamic is fully developed, there’s no need for an e-collar for the everyday things that our dogs need to do in order to live with us safely and contentedly. I would not use it for a problem dog whose problem is electric over magnetic, most especially if my aim is more for control than for flow.

  31. Jamey Smythe says:

    The one thing that an e-collar does in regular circumstances with a reasonably balanced and pretrained dog is give just about 100% recall. The confidence that this gives the handler can cause a nice relaxed flow to happen. The dog is already trained in recall. The collar can just be a reminder or a focus breaker if distracted. I’m just beginning to feel my way into NDT so I’m not sure if this fits in or not. I’ve read both books and watched many of the videos.

  32. Jamey Smythe says:

    The one thing that an e-collar does in regular circumstances with a reasonably balanced and pretrained dog is give just about 100% recall. The confidence that this gives the handler can cause a nice relaxed flow to happen. The dog is already trained in recall. The collar can just be a reminder or a focus breaker if distracted. I’m just beginning to feel my way into NDT so I’m not sure if this fits in or not. I’ve read both books and watched many of the videos.

  33. Sundog Fitz says:

    Thanks Kevin. In watching some of the videos it seems to me that there is a wide variation in the intention of the ecollar based on the trainers original assumptions about how animals learn and how to influence their behavior (I guess that is where the transparency challenge might be more opaque). “We must take care that flow is more important to us than control” makes a ton of sense to me as is the advice to build up the core dynamic, which lately I have been seeing as strengthening of the attraction my dog feels to me.

  34. Kevin Behan says:

    Thanks for your perspective. I’m always on the lookout for unintended consequences. I’ve seen dogs with very high drive with the e-collar used for recall and they did it, and the owner was so pleased with their control, but there was a state of conflict and so they remained loading and that leaked into other areas (that missing .01%). Since most of the dogs I work with are too electric with behavioral problems, I don’t use it. I would also like to add that if my dog can be distracted, I interpret this as a lack of drive and approach resolution from this perspective before I think about control.

  35. Jamey Smythe says:

    Hmm, thanks.

  36. b... says:

    I find a good guide to be the NDT principle of “correcting” when a dog is doing something right (adding energy to drive). Using an e-collar to interrupt a behavior (running away, or disengaging from owner) seems at odds with that principle.

    The other useful function of a “correction” as a Pavlovian trigger for a previously conditioned response (feeling) is where I had wondered if a remote collar may be of use. Would it be possible for a vibration to serve the same role as downward pressure from collar attached to long-lead to remind a dog of the sensation of shoulder pressure from when the compelled ‘down’ was trained and the shoulder pressure associated with it? Could it be employed for box training at a distance?

  37. PDB says:

    I wonder Kevin if the video from 4mins onwards demonstrates some parallels here with NDT techniques? Admittedly the philosophy and rational behind the mechanics may differ but do you think that unknowingly the techniques are doing similar things as NDT techniques. There appears even to be a basic form of ‘pushing’ at 8.15 and 9.15 that again may be helping create the same outcomes as NDT pushing. Philosophy aside, is this a good demonstration or at odds with making drive and ‘attention’ the NDT way. As you know I need to work on it with my ‘electric’ dog!!! Coincidently bond and attention is discussed in the your latest blog post Canine Cognition isn’t “Dognition”!

  38. Jamey Smythe says:

    Funny, I watched that video the other day and I was wondering the same thing. Making corrections a positive with the dog is the principle as I understood it. Hmm.

  39. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Kevin, I hope you comment on the video. Her language sounds a little like NDT, but I have some questions about it.

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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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