Why Do Dogs Do Everything in a Circle?

Why do dogs (circle before lying down or eliminating, play chase games on long round curves, spin like a top before a ball is thrown or when confined in a kennel or tied to a chain, approach other beings along an arc, quarter into the wind, twirl around a scent marking to position themselves, circumnavigate a territory) do everything in a circle?

Because they are orbiting within a field of mutual attraction.

Animals are emotional and emotion acts as a virtual force of attraction that due to its universal effects on the animal mind thereby creates a virtual field of mutual attraction. This means that every animal is attracted to every other animal just as every object of mass in the universe is attracted to every other object of mass. Anytime two animals are observing each other or are proximal to each other, or even when a physical memory of another animal is triggered by external factors, even though another animal isn’t actually present, it’s just as if the animal is moving within a field of mutual attraction. Like planets moving within the gravitational field of the solar system.

However, if it is true that animals are universally attracted to each other at all times, what keeps them from coming together into one big lump? Answer – the same thing that keeps the solar system from collapsing: the force of attraction that is pulling everything together is simultaneously deflected by the inherent momentum of the planets. In other words, planets are constantly falling toward the sun due to a gravitational pull but will never arrive because of their forward motion. Thus each planet moves in an arc along an orbit.

How then does emotion generate a constant source of motion while simultaneously serving as an ever present force of attraction? Answer: an internal state of conflict.

Emotion is composed of one part arousal to one part vulnerability and this internal paradox institutes a constitutional state of conflict in an animal’s makeup. Conflict is important because it generates energy and that’s important because energy demands motion. In other words, the internal contradiction between arousal and vulnerability in the animal’s makeup makes for motive in its mind, i.e. a compulsion to move. So an animal gets hungry and it must move because it feels vulnerable in that particular spot. A hungry deer is not fundamentally setting out in search of food, it’s fundamentally moving from a place where it feels vulnerable. And then even when feeding (and this is especially pronounced in herbivores) it will begin to feel vulnerable by staying in one spot too long which works out fine in the natural scheme of things so that animals don’t overgraze their range.

This became obvious to me once on an outing to a “Pick Your Own” blueberry field. There I was standing before a bush laden with thousands of plump ripe berries, but beyond this bush stretched rows of hundreds more and curiously, they beckoned to me even though I could have easily filled my buckets right there without even having to bend over or reach far. Nevertheless I felt an ever present urge to keep moving.  I could always feel this subtle and yet overwhelming sense that I was immersed in a current of flow, like I was on a canoe on a slow moving river and holding myself to shore to pick at a berry from a bush on the bank. And it wasn’t just me. Everybody in the berry patch was moving along as well. The children were especially interesting. The more excited they were about picking berries, the faster they moved, one boy even ran from bush to bush. (Although I noticed that women were far more focused and centered on the bush at hand than the men. Boys just want to have flow.)

So the deer isn’t actually looking for food; rather on the deepest level of consciousness it is literally being pushed from a spot that is perceived as being of an intensifying degree of vulnerability and this will ultimately habituate into a constant urge to move, not to mention that it will be reinforced when the deer does of course find food. We should also note that this constant urge to move increases the prey’s exposure to predation, and from a wide-angle lens of evolution that makes sense as well, – predators have to eat too. Animal consciousness is akin to the consumer’s dilemma whereby being part of an economy puts one immediately in debt (and thus in conflict) simply because it requires money to have food, shelter and comfort. People in an economy are constantly searching for money and often exposing themselves to unnecessary risk when they have plenty of it. Thus the default setting of the consumer’s mind is a state of tension and this creates psychic energy in the form of the motive to always be on the hunt for new money.

The more arousal, the greater the sense of vulnerability–consider the expression of abject terror on an infant’s countenance when she feels the pangs of hunger and yet is unable to move on her own–and therefore the greater the motive for motion. However this is also information because the interplay between arousal and vulnerability simultaneously serves as a force of deflection. For example, the faster one drives their car, the greater the sense of vulnerability and so the the stronger the force of deflection—i.e. the bigger the distance—we keep from other cars around us. We insulate ourselves in an imaginary bubble and we moderate our driving in order to avoid other cars and swerve around hazards, we’re trying to not “pop” this virtual bubble. This is the very same mechanism that creates social distance and critical distance between animals.

At some point an animal may experience more energy than its emotional capacity can handle and this is the precise point at which the sense of vulnerability collapses into abject fear, and arousal is knocked off line and an instinct takes over. This limit on the capacity to creatively adapt to circumstances is what locks the various species of animals into their specific network niche and so we see a level of organization in an ecosystem (speciation) akin to the planets entrained within the solar system along specific orbits.

In other words, a feeling is a circle because a feeling of vulnerability, if it doesn’t collapse into an abject state of fear, deflects the straightforward force of attraction into a circular, circumspective way of making contact with the object of attraction. And so when guided by arousal/vulnerability as an auto-tuning feedback dynamic, a dog falls into orbit around the object of its attraction, and if the interaction can continue to evolve according to the principle of emotional conductivity, the individual feels connected to what it is attracted to. This feeling of connection then takes on a life of its own and happily, it can even be supported by the higher processes of the central nervous system because there is indeed a payoff, to wit: an individual can realize a far higher rate of return on energy it expends by being in sync with others as opposed to working according to its instincts (or a high-powered intellect) which evolved to keep it separate from others.

So given the universal characteristics of an emotional makeup with arousal in direct proportion to vulnerability in order to create tension, animals operate at all times as if they exist within a field of mutual attraction and yet at the same time as if each is invested with an innate momentum that keeps them from just running into each other like an asteroid slamming into a planet. Arousal keeps them attracted and vulnerability keeps them deflected. Animals then self-organize by feel according to their emotional capacity. This auto-tuning/feedback dynamic can account for all relationships: predator and prey, parent and offspring, male and female; peer-to-peer, man and canine. And because dogs go more by feel; less by instinct (and not at all by thinking) than any other animal on earth, everything they do is along an orbit, i.e. as a circle. And because dogs have such a high emotional capacity, this circular stereotypical pattern, while discernible in all animals, is easiest to see in dogs.

This then allows us to define sociability in the following way. Social behavior is a circle because energy moving along a circle is the easiest (not to mention only) way to get energy to reliably repeat itself and by so doing thereby become information that adds new energy to the system. (This is necessary because unlike planets moving through the vacuum of space, life on planet earth is characterized by friction and a winding down of complex systems due to entropy and this degradation must be offset by a constant replenishment of new energy.) Emotion and a high emotional capacity is the basis of altruism because individuals become linked into a collective network and once entrained and bonded as one “emotional being,” one such individual can’t feel good unless the other with which it’s emotionally entangled feels good as well. They are innately inspired to work together so as to focus their collective energies on greater and greater challenges and this constantly adds new energy to the network so as to sustain the perpetual motion that is invested in every animals’ consciousness.

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Published June 13, 2009 by Kevin Behan
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2 responses to “Why Do Dogs Do Everything in a Circle?”

  1. […] go in that direction. One still has to go around the compass. Also, when dogs meet and greet, they are sensually orienting and aligning with each other, not displaying dominance and submission and thereby figuring out a hierarchy of relative rank. If […]

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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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