What is “Splitting” Behavior

The video below is interpreted as showing a dog playing the role of peace maker by stopping things between two other dogs before it gets out of hand.

While the “Good Samaritan” dog here does indeed interrupt the two other dogs, is that its intent? Because if such an interpretation were correct then we would expect to observe “splitting” behavior occurring uniformly across the spectrum of canine temperament types rather than being typified by a particular kind of dog. The “splitters” I’ve known are always dogs that are more easily knocked off balance and tend to keep out of the rough and tumble in play in general. They are typically quite playful, but they are more sensitive or defensive than others and often tend to stay near of orbit the handler. Note how this dog came from nearby the person with the camera and hasn’t to that point seen interacting with the other dogs. While this is but a brief snippet of video nevertheless I’m not drawing my conclusions based on You Tube videos. If I were selecting from a group of dogs asa personal or service dog, I would disqualify such a dog. Not that I don’t like these types, but they’re not a clear enough channel for demanding work.

What’s going on within this particular dog is that it is holding back, and when other dogs begin to manifest intense displays of energy, this dog’s DIS is triggered and it now has the chance to express INDIRECTLY what it holds back from expressing DIRECTLY. So intense displays of energy particularly unbalance such dogs but simultaneously trigger stuck energy. And since every interaction is a transaction of momentum, the bottom line is that the splitter wants to get a piece of the action and so we see how it immediately tries to play with one of the “troublemakers” once they’ve disengaged from the other. It begins to respond DIRECTLY because it now feels liberated from its attachment to the handler.

The reason I’m such a stickler on these matters at the risk of seeming the Grinch who stole Christmas, is that to accord the role of peacemaker to the “splitter” means we will miss the group flow system that is really the architect of collectivized behavior. When two dogs fight, they are not transferring emotion coherently, instinct and pain memories are getting in the way. And that in any group there is the low threshold yet high capacity individual that would jump into that friction (if a high prey threshold dog got involved the potential for real violence could erupt) so that flow emerges, speaks to the nature of emotion itself, the intelligence that is embodied in the very principles by which nature is organized. And to miss that point is a real shame to my eyes.

Published March 18, 2015 by Kevin Behan
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8 responses to “What is “Splitting” Behavior”

  1. Julie Forlizzo says:

    About a year ago on this blog site, (you may recall) someone posted a video of a toddler playing near a car. Suddenly a dog ran over to the child and started to bite and tug at the child’s arm. Just when it became uncomfortable to watch, a cat sprung out of nowhere and through its “aggressive” actions toward the dog, the dog fled. Many bloggers insisted that the cat set out to save the child from imminent harm. I never believed that cat “intended” to protect the child, but yes, its actions certainly cleared the way for the mother to grab her child and leave the scene. It seems the “splitter” in that case was the cat. I may be comparing apples and oranges here, but the principles of energy scenario take me back to that video.

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes that’s a very good linkage. The friction (ungrounded energy) between dog and boy didn’t feel good to cat and so it grounded out the energy by biting the dog. Good Kitty. This is a case of the cat getting to express DIS that it otherwise holds back, and how it services a group flow system. I believe this provides a more coherent evolutionary explanation for altruism, cooperation and sociability.

  3. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Just to take this one step further, Kevin, and more clarity, in YDIYM you talked about receiving a phone call from a man whose dog had just (if I remember correctly) jumped on and knocked down a man inside his home, while they were about to embark on a business adventure together. After the dog knocked into the man at the door, the dog whined – never bit him. Your sense was that the dog “sensed” dishonesty in the visitor, later finding out that the visitor indeed had intentions of some kind of embezzlement. In that case would you also say altruism came into play? Did the dog feel ungrounded energy that his owner wasn’t conscious of? This also reminds me of your “splitter” narrative.

  4. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes someone who is “crooked” means their intentions, actions, movements and thoughts are not in alignment with their feelings, and so this is a charge, or ungrounded energy, to a dog. A dog perceives this as blocking their access to their owner, in other words, they can’t feel both the outsider and their owner in a coherent way, and they don’t want the connection, hence the reaction.

  5. b... says:

    How does the outsider’s charge impede the connection to owner? Do you mean that the outsider has become part of the group by their presence and the conflict in the outsider is a disturbance in the group’s alignment?

  6. Kevin Behan says:

    This is such a rich area for exploration. Every aspect of animal consciousness, since it’s predicated on emotion, invokes a systems logic, which is to say a social logic. The very act of objectification, the way sensory input is construed by the animal mind so as to assume a particular form, is invested with momentum and then a math of alignment and synchronization, which in Constructal terms would be a laminar and/or turbulent manner of transfer of said momentum. If an individual can align and synchronize with an object, then it ultimately evolves into being part of a social configuration. In other words, all objects are construed in terms of a social value, that is inseparable from emotional relevance, from the object having an emotional impact in the first place. So given all of this, when an outsider holds a charge, which is a force of intense acceleration, emotionally speaking, the configuration cannot integrate cannot such an intense burst of energy. The group integrated individual cannot feel how to align and synchronize with the one holding a charge and so we observe intense reactions from defensiveness to avoidance, and in some cases intense hyper-excitement. The animal mind perceives and interprets all stimuli in terms of whether it can be absorbed and integrated into the configuration, this is a universal principle whether it be small objects of attraction which can be ingested, or complex objects of resistance that must be coupled with in order to become part of the configuration.

  7. b... says:

    Ah ok. So on a more basic thermodynamic level, the insertion of the outsider’s emotional mass into the system functions as a stimulus that acts as a force on the dog, just like any other stimulus… and because of the turbulent nature of the outsider’s emotional misalignment (and since the dog doesn’t have the option of ingestion as he doesn’t fit into dog’s mouth, and dog can’t couple with him either), the dog can’t integrate this burst of energy… so the dog pushes (equal/opposite action-reaction) against this force (pushing the outsider) in order to regain equilibrium, the laminar state that he previously felt while coupled with the owner?

  8. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes exactly. The outsider has mass and momentum, i.e. it wants to move when stimulated as do all animals, and so its physical presence plus its impulse to move is a very real force that knocks the integrated individual out of balance. The force of the outsider cannot be captured because it’s operating on a load/overload manner of transfer rather than looking to align and sync up, and so the integrated individual pushes back in kind to maintain its own equilibrium and hence the reaction. It’s the distinction between a planetoid (stimulus) entering the solar system with each planet simply adjusting its orbit as the intruder is integrated into the overall system, thus its energy has been captured and harnessed, versus a planetoid crashing into one of the planets. The former adds energy, the latter degrades the system. So emotion is an operating system of the animal mind that evolved to capture and harness the energy of inputs so as to improve the overall configuration. This is the basis of evolution, a theorem now proven by the Constructal Law.

    {I should add that the integrated individual can’t abide with the outsider “charged” individual because to hold it within the frame of mind that is network configured, feels noxious and so it must be repulsed. This happens without cognitive recognition of what’s going on, without intention, which is a far more parsimonious explanation not to mention more consistent with the intuitive nature by which animals respond to each other, and the amazing ways we observe dogs responding to others.}

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