What Does Dunning-Kruger Have To Do With Dogs?

{Critiques such as these may sound like they’re saying something, but they’re merely sophisticated name calling, nothing specific and concrete is being debated, but I extend the invitation on the hope for such. And because this particular critic is arguing for a personality theory of behavior, they are always guilty of the exact charge they’re leveling against the energy theory behind Natural Dog Training. By the way, in most instances the training preceded the theory although occasionally the theory prefigures the training, as in the eye-contact exercise. I invite Subaru or anyone for that matter to respond with a concrete model for why dogs love to ride in cars, whereas no other animal lives to do so, as a better explanation than an energy model.}

The comment is listed below, but click here to read from the original article.

Reader ‘Subaru’ quoting KB: “While there is no way to prove my energy model directly (1), however if it provides the best explanation for what we observe and the way things are (2), then it is the strongest theory, circumstantial evidence notwithstanding (3). I also believe that were the scientific community to apply its tools to the model, it could indeed be verified according to the scientific method (4). But for now, the way I’ve built my model is by observing behavior as a function of energy rather than being due to thoughts. (5) This then makes vivid the principles by which energy moves (6), what we otherwise call evolution, learning, personality development and even so-called dysfunctional behavior (7). I believe that knowing that behavior is a function of attraction (8) which works according to the laws of nature (9), allows us to reverse engineer the nature of sociability.(10)”

Subaru: 1. There is a way. DETECT this magical energy. And for context, cosmologists can detect energy that is 12 billion years old. Biologists can detect energy from a single cell. Physicists can detect energy from subatomic particles.

KB: The concrete and measurable energy is biochemical activity of the body, and neurochemical activity of the brain, and even anatomical leverages of the skeleton. The “energy” is the collectivized and synchronized activity of all these organisms and interrelated systems. For example, the digestive energies of one being evolved to interface with the digestive energies of another (which is why dogs smell you know what) and therefore and thereby, when two animals interact, they recapitulate in their behavior and movements the basic laws of nature, gravity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, laws of motion, etc., as all their physiological systems interface and interconnect. They become emotionally entangled. For example, two animals are drawn toward each other as if they are in a gravitational field because of how the perception of change “displaces” their two-brain makeup. They need to connect with the other in order to feel grounded within themselves (smooth peristaltic movements). {This is demonstrable, measurable and testable. Modern science has to willfully discard this evidence to proceed along a personality theory.} They are then able to self-organize as their internal and very real energies have electromagnetic-LIKE effects on their mind, on the way they perceive their situation and then respond JUST AS IF they are electromagnetic dynamos within a field of mutual attraction. It’s JUST AS IF within a dog there is a battery, electromagnetic induction, compass, gyro, etc., etc. I concede that it requires an unsophisticated mind to see this. A child for example can grasp something this simple far easier than a highly trained scientist.

Subaru: 2. Behan makes a common error often seen in unsophisticated thinkers.

KB: Whereas sophisticated thinkers ALWAYS err by thinking that the energy of the brain is wholly in service to thoughts. Thus, the INTERPRETATION of modern research always renders an animal that thinks. This is not evidence, this is an INTERPRETATION of the evidence. These interpretations fail to notice that the synchronized actions of the collectivized are subscribing to the laws of nature, gravity, magnetism, electricity, laws of motion, thermodynamics, etc., even though it’s the most parsimonious and obvious interpretation of the evidence and is embedded in human intuitive manner of speaking. They miss this because they are approaching the evidence from the bias that animals are self-contained entities of intelligence and therefore the only thing that can be linking their synchronized and adaptive behaviors are human reasons (territoriality, survival, reproduction, etc.)

Subaru: He wrongly assumes the best explanation is an accurate description of ‘reality’ Not so, it is the best explanation of the facts. No thoughtful scientist believes what he describes is the way things ‘are’. Under William Perry’s scheme, Behan is in the dualistic stage of development and suffering a full blown case of what he calls ‘cognitive egocentrism’ The Kruger-Dunning Effect seems to be working – see ‘Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”

KB: The romantic/mechanist belief that animals must think akin to human beings in order to be appreciated as conscious, sentient beings is indeed a full blown case of cognitive egocentrism.

Subaru: 3. The evidence IS what really matters. Behan’s approach makes the evidence servile to his beliefs.

KB: My beliefs follow from the evidence. A simple experiment: Try making up a theory that can accommodate ordinary as well as extraordinary aspects of animal cognition and behavior, i.e. the recognition by dogs of criminal intent in someone they’ve never met, as well as being able to fully embrace the phenomena of consciousness, sexuality, personality, learning, evolution, social structure, play, emotion, feelings, thoughts IN ONE MODEL. On the other hand, the default setting of the human intellect IS TO PERSONIFY EVERYTHING. The default setting of the human intellect is to ascribe intention to any and all things, the seas get “angry,” the wind “bites” at our back, the storm “toys” with us and keeps us in its “grip”. In the not-so-distant past, volcanoes grumbled and the ancients thought their gods were getting restless. Innocent maidens became nervous. Therefore which theory is more likely to be based on logic and an objective reading of the evidence? The idea that unresolved emotion, as the basis of physical memory, is then the basis of a networked intelligence, isn’t something that  immediately leaps to one’s mind. The idea that the laws of physics is the operating system of consciousness, that animals are “flipping polarities”, emotion is “energy running to ground”, the animal body/mind as an energy pipe and a battery, a self-replicating action potential that weaves a litter and its mother into a group mind, the group into an ecosystem, the web of ecosystems into a world-wide interconnected system of energy transfer based on how physical memory makes each charged individual feel, isn’t a likely product of the imagination. One will find it difficult to concoct a system of analysis that can encompass the phenomena of learning, sexuality, play, personality, evolution, why dogs-love-to-ride-in-cars while cats and laboratory rats don’t, why dogs are able to flourish in man’s world when mankind’s primate first cousins cannot, when that should be the logical extension of the prevailing models. An energy theory is far beyond my imaginative capacities, the only way I could have arrived at it was from a logical interpretation of the evidence. I’m not saying that such a theory should be adopted without critique, simply that an energy theory is more likely an objective systems of analysis than a personality theory.

Subaru: 4. The way he built his model is delusional. Since he can’t define, quantify or even detect this ‘energy’ the claim of “behaviour as a function of energy” is not justified. Two points to note here, a) he is trying to use science to validate his personal revelations, and b) he already concludes that his view is correct even though he has no evidence. A fine combination of ignorance and intellectual arrogance as per Kruger-Dunning.

KB: An objective reading of behavior is my evidence and I don’t need a scientists’ INTERPRETATION of this behavior to justify my conclusions. Meanwhile every aspect of science is moving in the direction of an energy theory and I append such findings when possible. Meanwhile, any time two dogs meet and greet, they recapitulate the evolution of sociability from the first primal traits to a complex development of personality aspects should they interact over the long term. On meeting, they generate on demand the first two primal traits, prey and predator a virtual form of ELECTRICITY, they then flip these roles and evolve into male and female (virtual) MAGNETISM, and then they continue to synchronize in response to change and generate more energy, i.e. unresolved emotion that ultimately is resolved, i.e. working together to overcome resistance. This is why it is possible to play with a dog. All sentient beings have this capacity, but it varies BY DEGREE NOT IN KIND, from species to species, from individual to individual and from context to context. Consider that professional athletes who are paid millions of dollars and are amazingly well trained for many dozens of years, nevertheless in abject defiance of all theories of learning, suffer from a “home field advantage”. This is the principle of emotional conductivity varying according to context. The cheers of the crowd and the disruption of routine shouldn’t matter at this high level of intellectual development and simple physical performance, but it overwhelmingly does because it directly affects emotional conductivity, and therefore the spontaneous capacity to adapt to change. Dogs having the greatest emotional capacity, are able to go by feel under the wider array of contexts and circumstances and thus are not as severely limited by instincts as the ape, chimp, or monkey when confronted by a high rate of change. This is the most logical explanation for the evolution and domestication of the dog.

Subaru: 5. Note the logical fallacies – and the Dualism. He provides us two choices and then concludes because he has deemed one choice is wrong then his option must be the correct. Behan ignores we already know some behaviour is directed by thought and it’s been show that a chemically induced ‘itch’ can induce a scratch reflex in decerebrate dogs. The James Alcock quote at the beginning is apropos.

KB: The false choice is that there is either thinking or there is mindlessness. This is the fallacy ditch in which this particular Subaru is stuck. For example, one can give an animal an increase of a hormone and then observe a heightening of aggression and then mistakenly conclude that this particular hormone is the source of the aggression rather than understanding that knocking a system out of stasis and its connection with its physical body is what caused the aggression. Or a scientist can electrically stimulate a ganglion of nerves in the brain and the patient reports a specific feeling and then one can mistakenly conclude that this ganglion of nerves is the source of the feeling, rather than the ganglion merely being the mechanical device that executes the feeling into action when organically aroused by the synchronization of the organisms’ energies with an object of attraction. The organism is being stimulated out of context with emotional reality and so such a system will ALWAYS prove to be deleterious on the network scale, as in the prescription of psycho-tropic drugs in humans and dogs. If someone takes a drug that makes them feel happy, they will not end up in a higher state of consciousness and their happiness will deteriorate as a result, since their body/mind is being artificially overridden. The hardware of our computer is not the source of the images, sounds and text we see on the monitor, just as the radio is not the source of the signal which animates its speakers. Therefore, damaging a particular component of the hardware that then disrupts the signal is not proof that the hardware, while necessary for the implementation of the signal, is therefore the source of the signal. If an energy theory relative to a personality theory is not a true dualism, then I ask Subaru to provide a third possibility that doesn’t depend on thoughts from a self-contained entity of intelligence.

Subaru: 6. Principles only known to Behan and not discussed or documented by any reputable researcher. Behan has also failed to document or even describe the so-called principles of his ‘energy’.

KB: These principles are knowable by anyone. Anyone can look at two dogs meeting and greeting and decide for themselves what’s going on. They need not defer to any expert. Meanwhile there is no EVIDENCE to support the notion that dogs think, there is only an INTERPRETATION of the evidence. Furthermore, genes do not replicate for the REASON of self-replication, that is a THOUGHT super imposed on the behavior of genes. Whereas such behaviors as two dogs meeting and greeting IS THE EVIDENCE. Therefore it is logical to conclude that genes conform to the evidence, i.e. the laws of nature, rather than to human reason. All one has to do to disprove an energy theory is explain within one model why dogs like to ride in cars and why they like to eat you-know-what, two aptitudes which stand in abject defiance of all mainstream learning and evolutionary theories.

Subaru: 7. Medical quacks develop cure for all ill and with a single poultice/lotion/pill they can cure all ills. Behan makes similar miraculous claims and at the same time shows a poor understanding of evolution, learning, etc.

KB: The most conservative interpretation of nature and the nature of animals is that energy that doesn’t move is toxic. Therefore if energy moves in a manner that adds new energy to the system, logic mandates that this is always nourishing. Practically speaking, this means that “problem behavior” is stuck energy. Get the energy moving in a manner that adds more energy (i.e. overcoming an object of resistance as defined by the owner) ALWAYS resolves “problem behavior”. This is observable, demonstrable and testable and is willfully denied by mainstream behaviorism in abject denial of the evidence. The movement of energy through prescribed channels cures everything. It’s how bones mend, bruises heal, food is digested, thoughts are thought, and emotional trauma is resolved.

Subaru: 8. Behan needs a few remedial lesson in critical thinking and some epistemology wouldn’t hurt either. He does not know the difference between belief and knowledge.

KB: Fortunately, I along with our merry band here, have apparently escaped formal indoctrination in so-called critical thinking wherein oxymorons and euphemisms pass for logical precepts.

Subaru: 9. “Laws of Nature” is left undefined. It is also a tautology to say that nature (all aspects and phenomena in the universe) behaves according to the laws of nature. He is telling us nothing.

KB: Gravity, laws of motion, thermodynamics, electromagnetism is pretty well defined as the laws of nature. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t understand what these mean. Meanwhile modern biology’s assertion that all phenomena in the universe, EXCEPT the behavior of animals, behave according to the laws of nature is tautology, as in genes replicate for the reason of replicating genes. Whereas energy is an action potential that can be studied by virtue of the “work” it does. In the nature of animals the work they do is overcoming greater and greater forms of resistance in order to recapitulate and regenerate the fundamental action potential, now embodied in increasingly complex derivations of the underlying, fundamental action potential.

Subaru: 10. He cannot reverse engineer it.

KB: Stay tuned.

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Published November 20, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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181 responses to “What Does Dunning-Kruger Have To Do With Dogs?”

  1. kbehan says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it, I’m a terrible, ignorant, lackadaisical, snake-oil selling, cult inculcating, hula-hooping terrible person who has promised to stop beating his wife. So what? Make an argument already! I said the vast majority of dogs love car rides because their Drive is stronger than cats. However I can PREDICT that puppies with strong drive will love car rides. I have never known a Sch 3 or police dog to drool or get car sick after its puppy hood, even though many began that way. If such a dog is afraid of car rides, then it has weak drive, low excitation thresholds, with a skillful trainer but is a sport dog and overly sensitive for serious protection work. No police dog is tested for car riding aptitude and yet a police dog that proved to be afraid of car riding would be useless. Police dogs are tested for Drive and that takes care of the rest. There are dogs that dread car rides for the same reason there are dogs that are thunder phobic. I have been around my share of horses/cows/sheep (not to mention cats) being transported, a little diahreea due to stress of handling by humans perhaps, especially sheep, but no copious drooling in the trailer behind the truck BECAUSE OF A SENSORY OVERLOAD, which is distinct from motion sickness and which I guess could be induced in any organism. Adult dogs that have a hard time in a car are not suffering from motion sickness just as dogs drooling in the back of their kennels or crates at a vet/boarding facility are not dealing with motion sickness, simply a sense overload from over-stimulation of the balance circuitry that composes animal consciousness and which is why you confuse it with motion sickness.

  2. kbehan says:

    Okay, if you are unable to make definitive statements then how are you qualified to evaluate a model that does?

  3. Subaru says:

    Heather you too could have gained suffiencient wisdom to rebuke Behan’s fallacious claims. You don’t even need access to a university library, Google scholar is enough to show that Behan was LYING when he made that claim.

  4. Subaru says:

    YOu could’nt be more wrong. “Drives’ has a much to do with motion sickness as it does whether a dog gets rabies. This is also why pharmaceuticals often work… unless Behan thinks Scopolamine boosts “Drives” making the dog immune.

    And I will reiterate that Behan was lying when he stated cattle, horses, etc don’t experience motion sickness. Since that also came under this theory, any reasonable person will have to question it’s validity.

  5. sean says:

    @subaru do you even know how to read? i ask because you have an agenda that has nothing to do w/ the discussion.

    if someone were wanting to debunk behan’s model, i’m sure that they could put forward an intelligent argument.

    however, you are not even capable of keeping track of a few related points. you misquote and misappropriate what behan is saying to fit with the view you already hold. anyone reading this thread should be able to see the point behan is making. right or wrong, i don’t think you even understand it.

    if your aim is to debunk behan i suggest you stop speaking, as it hurts the side you are trying to represent.

  6. Subaru says:

    @Sean you haven’t made a single point of contention. Haven’t offered up any evidence that supports Behan’s anti-reality philosophies.

  7. kbehan says:

    Right, Temperament with a “T” creates a group mind because each individual’s temperament (with a “t”) becomes sensitized/sensualized in a specific way tailor suited to the overall emotional climate, via the unresolved emotion they carry. In other words, given the way the animal mind is constructed, each individual of the group becomes the emotional counterbalance of the others, (IF THE EMOTIONAL CAPACITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL OR SPECIES IS HIGH ENOUGH) and in this way they become synchronized and therefore when there is a change in their environment, they internalize this energy as a fluctuation in how they FEEL FOR EACH OTHER. In order to become an emotional counterbalance of another in the group, an individual projects its emotional center-of-gravity into the other, and if they then synchronize, unresolved emotion begins to become resolved emotion, i.e. the dog feels good. This is how wolves hunt, and all of these energetic parameters are in play when dogs ride in a car, and this is why a certain proportion become profoundly sick. They are being emotionally induced by all the motion, but their drive isn’t high enough to process it because they are operating through their balance over their hunger circuitry. They are not experiencing motion sickness, rather they are internalizing this motion as SOCIAL RESISTANCE, as pressure from others, and their body is trying to off/load this energy in order to return to emotional stasis. Such dogs are either skittish around people when made the object of attention, or more likely, extremely friendly, both being opposite forms of the same indirectness of personality, the former reactive/indirect, the latter active/indirect. Temperament (“T”) turns energy into information (i.e. sociability) through temperament (“t”).
    If on the other hand one tries to account for the variability between individual dogs and other animals through the current mish/mosh of drives/instincts/personality/personal experiences/human reasons theory, all they end up with is a mish/mosh and can’t say anything definitive. The emperor has no model.

  8. Heather says:

    It is interesting that the same behavior could be perceived in such different ways depending on the model the behavior is viewed through. If I look back to my dog’s puppyhood, it is clear that we have made a circle. What I knew intuitively then I systematically questioned until I became utterly confused, then gradually got back to trusting my gut feelings. The process itself was healing, regardless of the result.

  9. sean says:

    @subaru that’s calling the kettle black!

    “…how Behan has changed from a declarative absolutist view of “ALL dogs love car rides” and now qualifies it with the self referencing “Dogs with strong drives.”

    if you could read, behan’s point was that dogs love car rides to a degree not found in other animals.

  10. Crystal says:

    Cadillac, you crack me up.

  11. kbehan says:

    I understand Grasshopper, it will be over soon.

  12. DaveD says:

    kbehan I understand Grasshopper, it will be over soon.

    Crystal Cadillac, you crack me up.

    Is there a private clique of messaging involved here?

  13. Christine says:

    I have one more comment that I’d like to direct to Subaru with respect: RE: your use of the word ‘cult’. If the following is the definition you have in mind…”the tendency to admire or respect a powerful person more than they deserve”
    It’s true that most of those who post here admire and/or respect Kevin and NDT. The caveat for you is that such admiration and respect is not undeserved. I can say this with conviction because Kevin has never reproached or spoken harshly to anyone who has posted here, even when they themselves speak harshly and with disrespect to him as well as others who post here. He is more than willing to entertain another’s point of view whether they agree with him or not. These are qualities that I aspire to and I welcome into my company those who display them. Being yielding and reasonable makes for good company.
    And besides, Kevin is not a powerful person. Nor is NDT a political OR a religious Juggernaut…I’m just sayin’♥

  14. Christine says:

    And that’s my final answer! lol

  15. kbehan says:

    No, a little pitter/patter between the outfield and the pitching staff has developed over the months. I don’t recall the entirety of your comments but it’s my impression that you’ve been engaging in the spirit of a good debate so I do appreciate your participation.

  16. PHYLLIS says:

    Just because something can not or has not yet been proven with scientific graphs and charts does not mean it is not to be accepted as valid. I will use a medication example to prove this point. There is a type of medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the following is a cut/paste from the Mayo Clinic web site. {Precisely how SSRIs affect depression isn’t clear. Certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are associated with depression, including the neurotransmitter serotonin (ser-oh-TOE-nin). Some research suggests that abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity affect mood and behavior. SSRIs seem to relieve symptoms of depression by blocking the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available in the brain. Increased serotonin enhances neurotransmission — the sending of nerve impulses — and improves mood. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to affect only serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.} The article continues with more ‘seems too’, ‘appears to’, ‘may appear to’ etc.
    Here we have a substance that works, no one is sure exactly how. There are theories, suppositions and uncertainty and yet 10% or around 27 million US citizens take one form or another of this medication.

    How does this have bearing on the discussions here? Do NDT methods work? Look at the dogs that pass through Kevin’s hands. What of the number of dogs he helps through online or phone advice? Then we have the other trainers that use his methods. As the NDT community grows so does the exposure of these methods. We understand. We get it and most importantly our dogs improve. I see this as success. If Subaru or anyone else disagrees, prove Kevin wrong with data not bullying verbiage. NDT methods produce results. That is sufficient to be taken seriously and treated respectfully.

  17. sean says:

    well said @phyllis

  18. Crystal says:

    Dave, no disrespect toward you intended at all in my comment to Cadillac.

    The juxtaposition of Cadillac to subaru just struck me as very funny on a number of levels. Got me giggling.

    So, curious, here. Is your present dog low drive would you say?

  19. Christine says:

    @Phyllis…I agree, Well Said!

  20. DaveD says:

    I also agree with Phyllis. Now, suspend any bias and ask yourselves how what she says is any different for Milan, Dunbar, Victoria, etc.

  21. Christine says:

    @DaveD…Most of those who post here have tried other methods: Milan, Dunbar, Victoria, etc. I have done just that with my 3 dogs. Some methods work for some dogs most of the time, at least, that’s what I have found. Whereas NDT methods work every time with every dog, even if it’s not Kevin doing the training. That’s how it has worked for me. I’ve seen such a tremendous difference with my most aggressive dog, a success I never achieved with any other method. In fact, most other methods seemed to increase his aggressive tendencies. And I’m mostly a flunky at applying NDT methods but the little bit I do use makes a noticeable difference. So I’m sold on NDT methods and will never look back! Consistent results prove the method.

  22. seb says:

    @Dave – that’s a very fair question. But for one, it seems the majority of people find NDT when EVERY OTHER METHOD has failed them. Plus, it’s when the stakes are high, and you’re dealing with aggressive dogs. If you read about Neil Sattin, he was told he needed to put his dog to sleep by a prominent trainer.

    You may not agree with them, but NDT does have answers for every behavior. The basic model doesn’t exclude anything a dog does. And this site is filled with challenges to other theories/methods to explain why dogs things, and in fact, that is the very core of the debate here. It doesn’t mean that other methods will never have success – that’s what makes them popular – but when you *really* have to look at the core of behavior, that’s when their reasoning can fail.

  23. kbehan says:

    Right, the only way we can parse about the various training methods is by way of a model. Victoria could be the world’s greatest trainer and yet at the same time still be philosophically and systemically in profound error, it’s just that her technique and feel for dogs could be that much better than most others. The same could be true of me, Dunbar, Milan, et. al. Conversely, I could have the worst instincts and skill sets for a trainer but then I’m saved by having a very good methodology based on a true model. Therefore the only way one can say something informed about the nature of the medium with which we are dealing, canine consciousness, is to generate a model so that they can make distinctions and objectively evaluate which methods work and/or are consistent with an overall philosophy. So for example, Dave, you might want to puzzle over the question as to why do dogs play tug of war with their owners when cats don’t and yet they have the exact same instincts in their genetic repertoire and the same shared domestic experiences? You could start by saying that dogs are pack animals and cats aren’t so much, and so dogs want to please their owners more and derive more satisfaction from interaction with their pack than cats, but then we can tear this model apart because dogs that are more submissive are less inclined to play tug than other dogs. Then you could say well then maybe dogs that are seeking to attain dominance are more likely to want to play tug as a means of physically testing their might against their owner so that they might at some point prevail, but then we could tear that apart with the recognition that dogs that exhibit the classic signs of dominance, hackles, growls, posturing, are also less inclined to play tug and so are selected against for police and detection work. So one could go step by step like that until they end up exhausting conventional explanations and if they pay close attention without presuming any preconceived notions, they thereby attain a model that best encompasses the distinctions between dogs and other animals, that fits consistently with the phenomena of learning, not to mention play, sexuality, personality and social structure, and while we’re at it evolution and the nature of consciousness. On the other hand we could not even do any of this kind of painstaking work and merely leap to the conclusion based on the scantest of interpretation of certain evidence that dogs think and that’s the end of all inquiry because that catchall answer can be plugged into any anomaly, inconsistency and outright contradiction. We could adopt this interpretation even knowing that the human reflex is to ascribe intention to anything it doesn’t understand, as in Zeus hurtling thunderbolts to punish the wicked ways of man. We could also deny that there is anything unique about dogs, even as institutes of higher learning begin to invest money into pursuit of the question, why the dog? and in this way keep out any evidence that challenges the conventional thinking on dogs. The only protection against any of this bias is a model.
    Interestingly, the animal-mind-as-an-energy-circuit-that-renders-a-group-consciousness model, also reveals that dogs always do what we want and thereby explains how contradictory training methodologies can have identical success rates and market share, and yet in the same stroke not fully address the nature of the dog. The emperor has no model.

  24. DaveD says:

    Not sure who the emperor refers to. The emergence of interest in canine cognition around the world is a very good thing. They surely hope to figure out dog behavior. As for a single model to come forth, we do not even have that for humans!

    On your bias to shun thinking about dogs as thinkers themselves, anthropomorphisms can and very often do cloud up reality. But that does not mean that dogs do not think in *some* ways like us.

    I have faith that science can reveal a good bit about fido brain as it learns more about human neuroscience. It will be much harder to fine tune theories for dogs because they cannot speak english.

    Why don’t you go to Harvard and talk to the folks there?

  25. Heather says:

    This is tangentially related – tug of war I found out is not the easiest game to play going by the NDT model. It is important to give you and your dog permission to be imperfect without automatically dismissing the model.

  26. kbehan says:

    DaveD “Not sure who the emperor refers to. The emergence of interest in canine cognition around the world is a very good thing. They surely hope to figure out dog behavior. As for a single model to come forth, we do not even have that for humans!
    On your bias to shun thinking about dogs as thinkers themselves, anthropomorphisms can and very often do cloud up reality. But that does not mean that dogs do not think in *some* ways like us.
    I have faith that science can reveal a good bit about fido brain as it learns more about human neuroscience. It will be much harder to fine tune theories for dogs because they cannot speak english.
    Why don’t you go to Harvard and talk to the folks there?”

    KB: The emperor refers to a set of hidden assumptions that drives all studies of animal cognition and even the way animal behavior and consciousness is talked about in casual discourse, and then this position is lorded over those who question these hidden premises. You may have noticed how disproportionately hostile many become to an alternative theory of behavior, interestingly when physics is willing to entertain any model that can better embrace the evidence.
    For example, in your post you indicate that you have faith that “science can reveal a good bit about fido’s brain” but this immediately assumes that the brain is synonymous with the mind, and which I’m arguing is akin to assuming that the radio is synonymous with what comes out of the radio. Such thinking predetermines how one will interpret what they are seeing. Meanwhile Lee Kelley has tweeted that Damasio’s new book asserts that consciousness arises from the cell’s “desire” to maintain homeostasis, so inch by inch science is getting closer to what I’ve divined by studying animal behavior without inserting thoughts into their minds. Meanwhile to me it’s obvious that dogs aren’t thinking with their brain (therefore the emperor has no clothes), but feeling with their heart. I am all for every line of scientific inquiry, I love the research that’s underway, bring it on, however I predict we will never be able to build a model for consciousness from neuroscience, rather, only by considering behavior without inserting thoughts into bubbles over an animal’s head. You say that it is an open question whether or not dogs think, and yet no one is willing to venture a guess and then subject this to intense intellectual scrutiny? This is why the theory of dominance lives on because it’s the only thing one can say dogs are thinking about and scientifically get away with it, while the other half of science says there’s no such thing as dominance. (Talk about a schizophrenic industry.) Therapists treating children, the criminally insane, the psychotic; don’t deal with their patients that way. And yet we treat the dog’s mind as the emperor thinking away madly.
    As a matter of fact I did communicate with Harvard after attending a testing session about the directed gaze at the Cognition Lab with one of my client’s dogs. I ended up having a very nice email back and forth with Marc Hauser before his troubles hit, and it was the most courteous response I have ever received from Academia, but he was unmoved by my suggestions for experiments that would counter the premise of a theory of mind that is the current rage in Academia. Hopefully if you read my next book you will see that the discussion about animals and in particular dogs is not about the evidence on animals and dogs. It’s about how animals and in particular dogs, makes us feel. In other words, whatever one believes about emotion will determine their interpretation of animals, and whatever they believe about feelings will determine their interpretation of dogs. It’s a mistake to think that behaviorism is open-minded about animal cognition. It is hell bent in the direction that dogs think, this is what garners all the prestige and the grant money.
    Believe me I am just getting started laying out an energy model. What thinkers like you must do in the meantime, is look around and notice that something profound is missing and that the current theories are rife with internal contradictions. You don’t have to believe my model is right, if you are paying close attention you should be confused and not satisfied with just inserting a thought into a dog’s mind and thinking that it now makes sense. If dogs think like us to “some” extent, then go for it. Put a thought in there, let me know what you come up with and then we’ll test it. But don’t be surprised when the emperor has no model.

  27. Christine says:

    Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout! I’ve been wondering how your visit to the Cognition Lab went…now I know ‘The Rest of the Story’. lol

  28. kbehan says:

    The most interesting thing that happened was that after testing with a real person doing the pointing, the experiment switched to the projection of a person pointing. On the first occasion the dog leaned toward the projected image of a person pointing, and then he went to the object of that point, but this only happened once. Thereafter even when the projected image of a person pointing pointed to the dog’s left, the dog went for the bucket on the right since that for some reason was his preference, perhaps because that was the first place he got a treat, I can’t remember. But after that very first image projection, thereafter the dog didn’t lean from its down position until released by its handler and so didn’t go in the direction of the point. So the first projected image was strong enough given its novelty to induce the dog to project its p-cog in kind so it went in that direction, but that quickly wore off and then the projected image of a person pointing held no value because it was just a two dimensional, non-emotional image. That’s how I interpreted that very small slice of the experiment I witnessed.

  29. Subaru says:

    PHYLLIS, I’ve already made that distinction. I stated that Behan can get a dog to do X, and I’ve compared him to a mechanic who can work on a car without understanding the underlying principles.
    Whether Behan knows it (or wants to admit) what he does in training can be reasonably explained with the current scientific approach.

    And as usual, all the analogies NTD can come up are unsuitable. There is data that supports the use of drugs even. For NTD ideas, there is no data, only conjecture that violates known physical laws and even mathematics (via his views on information theory)

  30. Subaru says:

    “Christine says:@DaveD…Most of those who post here have tried other methods: Milan, Dunbar, Victoria, etc.”

    That’s what everyone says. No doubt that also include Behan and Sattin.

    The phrase “Goddiit” is often used to describe creationist view of of everything, for NTDers and their view of dogs its “Energydidit” Both are equally useless when it comes to explaining anything. It’s an excuse not an explanation.

  31. Donnie_O says:

    “Whether Behan knows it (or wants to admit) what he does in training can be reasonably explained with the current scientific approach.”

    And yet you continue to avoid offering any explanation to why fence fighting resolved Sang’s dog’s aggression or why the pushing exercise can be used to resolve a wide variety of behaviour problems.

  32. Christine says:

    @Subaru, one can only assume that you suffer from ODD, which would explain your continuing belligerent attitude. I would certainly appreciate it if you would make even a small effort to play nice…just sayin’

  33. Subaru says:

    One might want to puzzle is why Behan makes false statements and then expects other people to provide answers based on this. Is there any
    proof that dogs and cats have the EXACT SAME instincts? EXACT SAME? Really? How did Behan come to this conclusion? Can he cite a study?

    Behan arguments are rife with fallacies. Perhaps because most readers are not trained to recognize them, they take them at face value without knowing they are being bamboozled. You want to talk about “a set of hidden assumptions” then Behan’s posts and views are the best place to start.

    So far your arguments of consciousness or mind have been in line with “Intelligent Falling”.

  34. Christine says:

    @Kevin…how anticlimactic! I had hoped for something better. Ah well…so much for higher-ordered thinking.

  35. sean says:

    @subaru it’s evident that you have no idea what you’re talking about. to compare dog training with auto repair is so weak, i’m questioning whether you know what a mechanic does for a living.

    your point fails to address the question, as the obvious counter argument is that the traditional scientific approach works according to behan’s interpretation, only those that practice it don’t know it 🙂 you should see how that line of argument is pointless in a discussion?

    if you’ve read anything on this site, you should have gathered that behan has developed training methods that are unique and run counter to those advocated by other trainers. exercises such as box training and pushing fit inline with his model and not with those of other trainers/philosophies.

    behan is perhaps the first to dismiss dominance and parts of +r training and state that the hunt is the organizing purpose of social behavior (read the natural dog training book published 1991).

    if his training can be explained w/ the current scientific model, then explain it! i don’t think you can, which is why you avoid saying anything meaningful.i doubt that you’ve read the book. done any of the exercises. you speak w/out any authority on the subject.

  36. kbehan says:

    Yea, I was hoping to get into a heavy discussion. But the experiment is no nonsense allowed, they’re on a tight schedule, and the graduate student is as sweet as pie and just wants to get her work done and get back to the library or that night’s party. So I just kept my eyes open and picked up that one tidbit. Then I got the idea to email Marc Hauser and he graciously responded.

  37. kbehan says:

    This is an old argument but I’m happy to reprise it. When modern Darwinists want to rebuke Michael Behe’s irreducible mousetrap idea for the human eye in that the complexities of the eye wouldn’t reap any evolutionary benefits until all the parts were assembled and long after precious ENERGY had been invested in its development thereby compromising the previous individuals that are indispensable to that evolutionary process because they’re investing energy in something that isn’t going to add any adaptive advantage, Darwinians counter that nature constantly recycles adaptive components that realized some other value lower on the chain of life, and then all the parts come together in a major new advancement higher up on the phylogenetic chain, and yet still on the continuum. That makes sense to me especially since there aren’t that many genes, as in the same set of genes that determine body form of all life, animals, birds, humans and fish, varying only in the timing of their expression. So when I see a dog stalk, pounce, chase, shake and kill a mouse, vole, mole, just like a cat, and conclude that this is the same prey-making instinct because cats and dogs are both enticed by what’s now called “flirt poles ” as motivational training devices, and otherwise it’s not in line with the theory of evolution by way of common descent, and also because the big cats also evolved the same repertoire of instincts with large prey, stalk, leap, shake and kill, and will tug of war with each other over a carcass, and carry it large distances to the den, Subaru is disturbed. So what is it? Are all the instincts different from each individual organism, even if they evolved in the same place and in regards to the same prey, or is Michael Behe right in regards to intelligent design?

  38. kbehan says:

    At the risk of vain glory let me put it this way. If American dog owners raised their puppies the NDT way, we wouldn’t be euthanizing the millions of dogs we do each year, many millions of these having been raised by responsible dog owners just doing what they were taught to do by the behavioral/industrial/veterinary complex.

  39. PHYLLIS says:

    This I know.
    My GSD is a rescue. He was not socialized or exercised before the age of 8 months. When he came to live with me he was fearful of other dogs and people and showed his fear by being aggressive. I consulted a prominent local trainer who has trained police dogs and now trains dogs for prisons and personal protection and is very recognized in search and rescue. He evaluated my dog and determined he needed “aggressive intervention”. Within five minutes of ‘correction’ after ‘correction’ my GSD was reduced to shaking so badly his hind quarters barely supported him. He was corrected for looking at the other dog present. He was corrected for trying to come to me. (I was later told had my dog been a weaker dog, a dog with a softer temperament he would have urinated, defecated or expelled his anal glands). We enrolled in this trainer’s obedience class. My dog was perfect. He never looked at another dog (that was not allowed and resulted in a ‘correction’). He performed all the commands perfectly but if/when the trainer came by he began to shake, tried to hide behind me and seemed unable to carryout the most basic commands. After six weeks of this obedience training he became so aggressive he began fighting with our other dog. Walking him was a nightmare. He could make construction workers leap back and curse with his barking, snarling and lunging. I took to walking him in a local quarry so there would be no people to meet. I didn’t share this with the trainer because it would have meant more severe corrections and I felt he could not take this. I knew I could not. Most other trainers would not even evaluate him. I took him to Kevin after he bit one man and I was told to euthanize him. I was told he was a walking time bomb. He would never be a pet and could never be trusted. This was in the spring. Yesterday I was with him in a large pet supply store. While speaking to a clerk I turned to see another clerk holding my dog with her hands on either side of his face and her nose touching his. Not something I encourage or recommend but a far cry from the dog that made construction workers cringe before NDT.

    My GSD is a handsome fellow and several times a week I am asked about his training, I understand enough of NDT theory to explain it to others but actually I don’t care about the theory that is Kevin’s job. I care about the results. My dog is living proof Kevin’s methods work.

  40. Sang says:

    One might want to puzzle is why Subaru makes false statements and then expects other people to provide answers based on this.

    Subaru arguments are rife with fallacies. Perhaps because most readers are not trained to recognize them, they take them at face value without knowing they are being bamboozled. You want to talk about “a set of hidden assumptions” then Subaru’s posts and views are the best place to start.

    Dunning-Kruger effect anyone?

  41. DaveD says:

    Phyllis, there are good and bad practitioners in the world of dog training. You had a bad experience with ine, and a good experience with another. That seems the case for many who like KB, and that is to his credit.

    It does not follow that an affinity for handling dogs is sufficient to explain the science of their behavior.

    It is the same notion that holds for people who are good managers of other people, right? Such talents are valuable, but not necessarily sufficient for developing all-encompassing paradigms of behavior.

  42. Heather says:

    I had forgotten about the Hauser leave of absence, there was a temporary media mania that resulted in Harvard sending him packing, but I suppose it was a strategic decision not to publicly release the results of the investigation after the initial reaction of the scientific community. As I recall there were published documents at issue, with speculation about data fabrication from whole cloth, which of course he would deny, and hopefully HIs electronic/written communications support that, but who else would’ve had access and done it in his absence, the monkeys? People who don’t want to believe the obvious are never going to be convinced though, and after awhile it’s expected that everyone picks himself up off the floor and falls in line like nothing happened.

    But back to dogs, there is a connection missing somewhere. You are saying that there is such a relentless focus on inserting thoughts into their minds in the first place, just because of the temptation of money? It seems like academics would be thrilled to focus on understanding the human-dog emotional connection, and even more interested in a theory that purports to account for all aspects of animal consciousness.

  43. kbehan says:

    No the money is the least of it but I’m sure grant allocation trends a certain way. Things look pretty cushy at the Harvard Canine Cognition Lab. But the real reason is that the intellectual mind insists on seeing an intellect at work in instances of intelligent behavior. All evidence is misinterpreted due to this intellectual reflex. And this is the real reason the intelligentsia gets so mad at an energy theory. Now that Saber toothed tigers are no more and nature largely quelled by technology, a vestigial fear of the wild remains as a fear of emotion, which to this day is still wild within us and which is why emotion is considered impulsive, self-destructive, irrational, wild and crazy when nothing could be further from the truth. Daniel Gollman author of “Emotional Intelligence” actually wrote a book on the “destructive emotions.” Yet fear, anger, guilt, etc. are not emotion. The intellect denies the existence of Heart, romantic sentiments notwithstanding, and thus our modern society prizes mental acuity and personality over emotion and character, and that’s not trending well for our kids or our dogs. There are huge judgments against rage, aggression, male energy, even female energy that insists on being true to the Heart, and all of these judgments are playing out in the behavior of the modern family dog, as hard as that may seem to believe. If but one apple floated upward, academia would question gravity, but we don’t question behaviorism and modern biology when everything dogs do challenge the current theories.

  44. seb says:


    At what point then, WOULD you consider having an open mind for someone’s theory? Wouldn’t their skills for being a manager, or in this case, a trainer, warrant a certain level of believability and an open mind? They’ve dealt with the behavior, they’ve seen the successes – and failures – and can use their years of experience to evaluate. EVERY one has to start somewhere. So there’s no reason why Behan shouldn’t be encouraged.

  45. Subaru says:

    sean You can’t “know” what you claim because it happens to be false. You’ve been lied to and because don’t have sufficient knowledge of science you are unable to realize it. Since Behan’s models runs counter to established and proven science you cannot used the same argument.

    Again, it boils down to evidence. Not conjecture, not metaphors, not anecdotes. EVIDENCE.

    As with your honcho, you too are completely oblivious to the advancements of science. And like your fellow defenders you make assertions without even looking them up. Dominance was being questioned long before the date you mention. Look it up!!!! Stop making false claims.

  46. Subaru says:

    Sang, you are now just posting garbage. So far you’ve been the least effective, Quite a feat in a sea of NDT denialism.

  47. Subaru says:

    So the answer is that he has no evidence. SAME EXACT…. that’s right folks he made it up.

    And Behan’s arguments shows that he doesn’t understand modern view of evolution.

  48. Crystal says:

    Phyllis very moving story. So happy for you and your dog that you stuck with him and found NDT.

  49. Heather says:

    At the cognition lab, was the image pointing experiment immediately after a real person experiment, so the dog had a sense of a real person in it’s environment handling it? Did you suggest any experiments about dogs riding in/reacting to cars…that could result in lost dogs.

  50. kbehan says:

    Subaru, I think you said that the choice between attraction and intention I’m offering is a false dichotomy. But you could prove it to be false by contributing a third option. If you can’t, then it is true. For example, in your schema there is either thinking or mindlessness. I can prove that’s a false dichotomy by showing how feelings are a form of intelligence that have nothing to do with thinking. Back up your statement if you can, if you can’t, you are discredited.

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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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