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Water As Midpoint

An emotional midpoint is a place or object that dogs can deflect their emotion onto as a substitute means of making contact with another dog. This is what’s going on when dogs are lifting their legs on things, these then can serve as midpoints around which they can orbit and thus they are emotionally aligning and ultimately synchronizing. Water is a powerful tool for the purpose of facilitating emotional connections between antagonists because 1) it can be ingested so the hunger circuitry is activated and satisfied, and 2) because the front end isn’t connected to the hind end, the dog feels connected by wallowing his whole body in the water hole. In short water is an emotional conductor, which we all experience for ourselves just watching a body of water or the water flowing by. Also, try keeping a kid (or a lab) out of a puddle. So the Westy has figured out (in other words can feel) what the midpoint is, and therefore he feels safe enough to tolerate the dogs messing with his muzzle, which normally is a hot trigger, as evidenced by earlier video where the very presence of the other dog focusing on him from 100 feet sent him into the ozone. When he feels stressed, he withdraws to the midpoint and the other dogs are immediately deflected. Then, proximity to that place becomes a calming influence in its own right.

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Published September 12, 2011 by Kevin Behan
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3 responses to “Water As Midpoint”

  1. Christine says:

    Is there any significance to this behavior: a woofer grabbing the hose as its filling the basin and/or getting in the basin and pawing/biting the water, also biting the water that’s coming out of the hose.

  2. Christine says:

    Also, I’m not sure I understand the bit about the other dogs being deflected when westy gets into the pool. Does that mean they feel resistance from the westy when he enters the pool and so move away from him? I noticed one of the GSDs getting into the pool with the westy.

  3. kbehan says:

    Right, both dogs are drawn to the water and this is a means of deflecting energy off of each other, and so they soften from feeling as the object-of-attention, to feeling that they’re object-of-attraction because the water is helping them feel flow. Meeting around a midpoint increases their emotional capacity and makes it possible to meet head on without a collapse.

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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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