Who Is In Control?

Putting aside all the ethical considerations that this video has provoked, a simple question about the pack dynamic depicted here: who is in control?

Published March 25, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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20 responses to “Who Is In Control?”

  1. Faith says:

    I thought it was pretty clear that Elsie was in control. No one moved unless she did. She even seemed to be able to get the squabbling males to stop (I could be wrong on that, but I that’s how I interpreted some of her movements/behavior).

    Very interesting clip. Thank you for posting. I think this is also a good demonstration of how tail wagging can be misinterpreted. I’ve heard so many say that a wagging tail basically equals a happy and content dog. I didn’t see “happiness” with much of the tail wagging that was going on in this clip. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, Kevin.

    PS – I found myself sighing at the nomenclature – the constant reference to “alpha” and “rank” was a bit much. But perhaps that’s because I’ve moved beyond that paradigm!

  2. Rip says:

    >>”… the constant reference to “alpha” and “rank” was a bit much. But perhaps that’s because I’ve moved beyond that paradigm!”

    Apparently not all dogs have moved beyond it.

  3. Richard Vlaanderen says:

    When prey controls predator, and Elsie in heat, is the one all the males are after, and therefor the “prey” then yes i would say she is in control. What i am not sure about though, is if the prey/predator scenario is the case here?
    Interesting to see that the little dogs are more or less ignored. I guess they are no real thread for the bigger ones, so why waste energy?

  4. Faith says:

    I watched part of this again, mostly because I wanted to see the interaction between the Rottie and the pit bull. At around 9:30 in the clip Elsie bows/stretches and looks like she might be trying to “flag” or present herself to the pit bull, and he basically ignored her. The Rottie was more than willing to accept her. Is this another way how she is in control because she tried to “accept” the pit bull, and when he didn’t seem interested, she moved on to the one that was interested?

  5. steve says:

    Looking forward to your interpretation of this Kevin, I watched it first without the commentary then again with it. Elsie’s obviously the one in control, but I’m struggling to explain the dynamics of this without going back to the alpha/ dominance ideas, because at the end of it all, the biggest dog ‘wins’. Does he (the rottie) just want it more than the rest?

    I found it interesting how, at 3:30, when Rusty & Bandit fight, Butter also joins in (or is he trying to break it up?) but Elsie goes for him as if she’s saying ‘leave it’. Butter’s very close by all the way through, almost like he’s her bodyguard?

    After the rottie & pit’s fight at 10mins, Elsie goes to the rottie with a much more playful look about her, is that because she’s just ‘chosen’ him?

    I’m guessing it could be that she finds the rottie easier to align up with because he’s got/ is giving out more energy?

    When I’ve mentioned the idea to people that there’s no such thing as a dominance hierarchy, I get plenty of screwed up faces & funny looks. Until I can explain videos like these, I guess I’ll continue to get those same looks!

  6. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes, emotion always and only travels from the Predatory Pole (the individual projecting their p-cog) to the preyful pole, that aspect (anything to do with the body) that can absorb the projection of emotion. So Elsie is the prey, she is actually bleeding and secreting intense preyful aspects in the sex hormones, and therefore she is in “control” if such is a word we need to apply to animal interactions. (In a flow model the idea of control isn’t workable per se, the individual is only trying to control what they are internally experiencing, not others.) It’s very important to recognize that sexuality is an elaboration of the prey/predator dynamic, it’s not first and foremost about reproduction, but about sensuality for the purposes of alignment and synchronization, i.e. flow. The little dogs are ignored because they are not big enough to knock the bigger dogs out of balance. Note that each dogs’ feeling of access revolves on being able to raise their p-cog over the other dog’s p-cog, (chin positioned over shoulders, and then eye contact is but an elaboration of this p-cog/p-cog leveraging.) this is visible even when the male dogs stand over elsie. Note that access to the actual prey, an object-of-attraction/resistance such as a moose, is also determined by whether the predator can raise its p-cog over the prey’s, and again sustaining eye contact is but an elaboration of that metric.

  7. Kevin Behan says:

    Imagine if one were a visitor from another planet, on an ethological mission gathering data on earth life, hovering above such animal dramas in their spaceships, taking it all in without any human intellectual attachment to what they’re observing. They would conclude watching this “heat pack” that there is a flow dynamic with the defining object being Elsie around which all the subsidiary currents configure, they would see that there is resistance to flow and subsequent friction when constituents of the current collide. But an alien wouldn’t be compelled to use the term dominance because they haven’t acquired an attachment to the term that has been indelibly imprinted and associated with the phenomenon of resistance and friction. Yes there is hierarchy, there is resistance and there is friction. But this is all in service to flow and these would be the terms a neutral observer would employ. Hierarchy results from flow, and then there is friction when there is resistance to flow but the idea of dominance is a thought that only human beings are capable of (perhaps apes/chimps? although I doubt it). The question comes down to what is going on inside these male dogs’ minds? Modern behaviorism says dominance as an instinct, but they are not doing their math and are unconsciously putting thoughts in there while calling it instinct. In truth they are attributing to instinct all kinds of situational awareness and cogitation about future possibilities to the point where we’re no longer talking about instinct and have slipped wholly into a human psychology. From the detached observer’s perspective, the “leader” is clearly the female-in-heat, the object-of-attraction because of the most emotionally compelling preyful aspects radiating from her body. All the currents flow subsidiary to how she flows. The male that ultimately breeds to her is not necessarily the most fit from out point of view (strongest,toughest,most dominant), but rather was the strongest one who fortuitously for him came toward the final phase as exhaustion attritted a lot of other strong rivals who joined the troop too early. The one who bred to Elsie was the one who wanted her the most in the face of friction. In other words, the one who could most feel his body when another male “pushed” or projected stress onto him and tried to knock him off balance. (Is such a male trying to knock the other dog off balance, no, the eye gaze of the other dog is knocking him off balance and he’s trying to restore his own internal emotional equilibrium, which is indelibly imprinted in his mind with his physical balance, thus where another dog looks, as in toward the female into which he has projected his p-cog and thus feels exposed by her, knocks him off balance). Note how much fear in the expressions of the males when they are vibing each other. Note how calm the female is. If someone told our friendly space aliens in their spaceship about the dog whisperer Cesar Milan as an amazing leader of dogs who exuded this mesmerizing quality, they would say “ah, he must have modeled himself after Elsie, not those fearful males. Dominance in humans is not the hallmark of sureness or leadership and its instinctive underpinning of fear is something we select against and seek to change in a protection dog for example. So we’re seeing in the male-to-male friction a contest of fear versus desire, i.e. balance versus hunger, and so the males sort themselves out according to a hierarchy of feelings. This is exactly how the hunt works as well.
    Finally the copulatory tie. Yes I suppose it protects from other males inseminating, but only for that moment, as an owner of breeding dogs I can assure you the female can be bred again hours later, or a day later, but even so, this isn’t the full reason for its evolution. The copulatory tie is the physical manifestation of an emotional dynamic, the projection of one’s p-cog into another, and then being able to hold onto this root so that two are emotionally interlocked as one Self. If this isn’t true, then why isn’t there a copulatory tie in other species since gene perpetuation is the organizing principle supposedly of all animal behavior. Surely if this is effective this particular manifestation of such a strategy should be widespread in the animal kingdom.
    So in order to get past the dominance paradigm, which I concede is not easy to do, one must see the systems logic by relentlessly asking, what is going on inside the individual dog’s mind? rather than, what would I be thinking if I was that animal? (Ask instead, what would I be feeling?)

  8. Kevin Behan says:

    The question as to whether or not dogs have moved beyond it would depend on what one means by a dog’s sense of its “self.” NDT is the only theory that makes such a definition without resorting to human psychology. Hope my comments have been clear about this group dynamic.

  9. steve says:

    That’s going to take some digesting but thanks! I already believed dominance in humans is all about fear & I think this edited bit will be the key to my understanding –

    ‘The male that ultimately breeds to her is not necessarily the most fit from out point of view (strongest,toughest,most dominant), but rather was the strongest one who fortuitously for him came toward the final phase as exhaustion attritted a lot of other strong rivals who joined the troop too early. The one who bred to Elsie was the one who wanted her the most in the face of friction. In other words, the one who could most feel his body when another male “pushed” or projected stress onto him and tried to knock him off balance. (Is such a male trying to knock the other dog off balance, no, the eye gaze of the other dog is knocking him off balance and he’s trying to restore his own internal emotional equilibrium, which is indelibly imprinted in his mind with his physical balance, thus where another dog looks, as in toward the female into which he has projected his p-cog and thus feels exposed by her, knocks him off balance)’

    As you say, dog A isn’t trying to knock dog B off balance with his gaze, if dog B was more confident & less fearful (probably the wrong words there) it wouldn’t matter to him, he couldn’t be knocked off balance?

    Although your theories are primarily aimed at dogs, I think most, if not all of it, could be true of humans too. We just hide behind concepts like dominance, rather than looking inwards to our feelings & vulnerabilities, which are more likely to be the true cause of the external things that affect us/ happen to us.

  10. Kevin Behan says:

    That’s very well put. It’s not what we feel that causes the problems, it’s what we think about what we feel, that’s the root of all evil.

  11. Kevin Behan says:

    The main thing to realize is that the object-of-attraction has emotional leverage, if, they have the emotional capacity to sense and exert it. This means the capacity to project their p-cog into another being (object-of-resistance) and simultaneously feel hunger in their deep gut (collected). Note how soft the males are toward Elsie because her hormones allow them to do this. But between the males, the balance outweighs the hunger and they perceive each other not as competitors for Elsie, but as interrupts to their own subliminal beam of attention deep within their own body. This feeling of disconnect displaces most of the “weaker” males to keep their distance, or, in the instance of the little brown dog gives him the chance to make prey on the other males when they fight by sneaking in to bite from behind, this is how he reconnects with his own body. This internal emotional dynamic of hunger relative to balance within the individual, computes a group systems logic, and the term dominance hierarchy is far too shallow and crude to properly enunciate it. It’s simply the easiest way for the human intellect to not only apprehend this complex working of such a system, but more importantly, to justify the intellects’ reflexive impulse to quash emotional energy. So the market favors the term of dominance to justify the notion of competition and a supposed justification in the natural order of things to control others, which really factors out to an internal compulsion of the intellect to want to control the power of feelings which can overpower the tightly constrained intellectual mind.

    All of the confusion over the nature of hierarchy revolves around the question as to how does an animal arrive at a sense of a Self. I’m asking one to consider the Self as an extension of the emotional projection phenomenon wherein the individual’s sense of its p-cog becomes embedded in the body of another being so that it quite literally feels PHYSICALLY attached to that other being. Once one can grasp that perspective, it is like pulling the curtains away from a window.

  12. Skip Skipper says:

    In thinking about dogs that are reactive/aggressive. Having trouble distinguishing what is or isn’t loading. For instance when I show the tug toy for most dogs, they lunge at it and bite. Much the same as they would going after another dog or person. My question is, am I strengthening this behavior and if so is there another way I should be starting the tug with these types go dogs. As always, appreciate what you do and looking forward to the ebooks.

  13. steve says:

    Thanks, and thanks for taking the time to explain it further.

    Makes me smile reading this, combined with other things I’ve been reading recently, i feel things coming together somehow, although I expect it will take longer than a few months to grasp what’s taken you a lifetime to develop. Re-reading your replies on here in conjunction with your ‘Debate Over Neutering’ makes things clearer.

    ‘The main thing to realize is that the object-of-attraction has emotional leverage, if, they have the emotional capacity to sense and exert it.’

    – Much like humans!

    ‘But between the males, the balance outweighs the hunger and they perceive each other not as competitors for Elsie, but as interrupts to their own subliminal beam of attention deep within their own body. This feeling of disconnect displaces most of the “weaker” males to keep their distance, or, in the instance of the little brown dog gives him the chance to make prey on the other males when they fight by sneaking in to bite from behind, this is how he reconnects with his own body.’

    – This bit helps me understand the dominance issue, or lack of it, relative to the dog’s size. So the smaller dogs aren’t put off by the size (or dominance) of the other dogs, it’s their own lack of balance & emotional capacity. Which explains the little brown dog Butters actions – he has a bit more balance & emotional capacity than the other small ones, which makes him at least able to try to interact with the energy flows to which he’s attracted?

    ‘All of the confusion over the nature of hierarchy revolves around the question as to how does an animal arrive at a sense of a Self. I’m asking one to consider the Self as an extension of the emotional projection phenomenon wherein the individual’s sense of its p-cog becomes embedded in the body of another being so that it quite literally feels PHYSICALLY attached to that other being.’ – Again much like humans, and the feelings of love where we feel connected to another human being & sometimes describe it as feeling ‘complete’, we’ve completed an energy circuit & feel ‘whole’.

    Attending your training academy in August would be fantastic, sadly I don’t think it will be possible, maybe you’ll do a world training tour & come to the UK one day!

  14. Kevin Behan says:

    If the dog becomes supple, willing to press in and be petted with toy in mouth, able to carry it around even past other dogs acting provocatively, then it is feeling the flow and this feeling is erasing, slowly, the fear memory in the emotional battery the load/overload. The flow (hunger-over-balance) is outweighing the fear (balance-over-hunger). So it isn’t the bite that’s important, it’s the carry no-matter-what. The dog is indeed starting out in the load/overload bite mode, just as he does with other dogs, but at least he’s giving us his “I have to bite dog” energy. This then gives us a chance to soften it via flow and bring the dog back to its puppy mind before the damage was done.

  15. Sundog Fitz says:

    After reading all of this it occurs to me that the original question may not be WHO is in control but rather WHAT is. And then that makes me ponder whether we are dealing with a “who” at all when we are referencing dogs, or is it all simply a dynamic, a force, an energy?

  16. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes, it’s a bit of a trick question since indeed there is no Who in control, its the flow of emotion according to its inherent principles of movement which organize all actions. By definition, emotional beings will form a dynamic, they will become the physical manifestation of the dynamic, the missing immaterial “absential” that turns raw energy into information. What comes before that I don’t know, but at least we’ve pushed the relevant question closer to the source.

  17. Harley says:

    Very educational video, and as usual Mother Nature is in control, only the strongest will have the right to breed.

  18. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes indeed don’t fool with Mother Nature, however to your second point: if only the strongest have the right to breed, how is it that so many couplings of the strongest over so many millennia have yet produced so many meek and weak offspring so that “submissiveness” is exponentially more prevalent a feature of behavioral expression than “dominance?”

  19. John Cassidy says:

    How does a dog know he’s beaten in these encounters , if he don’t rationally work out the other dog is stronger that him ,if he has no awareness of himself , why do they just give up and fall into line

  20. Kevin Behan says:

    When the rate of change (intensity/resistance) becomes too high for the hunger circuitry to process, and this will first be prefaced by loss of the second subliminal beam of attention on the center of his forequarters (the first is on the hunger/void in the deep gut), in other words the dog loses contact with his heart and the feeling of the beating and flow of blood as weightlessness, then the dog reverts to sheer balance as the fear of falling is taking over and will either run away or lower to the ground to rectify his balance problem. < > When a dog goes into balance, he is now only concerned with the predatory aspect of the other being and can’t feel its body, and thus can’t feel his own body. This is a systems logic wherein the Self is a function of the object-of-attraction/resistance as well. A systems or group mind logic will provide a model for the behavior without having to arbitrarily inject a human logic, which will appear to make sense in that frame, but in other frames will always end up contradicting itself.

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