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Why I Don’t Train My Lion Cub “Bite Inhibition” or to Not-Jump-Up

Have you ever noticed that when you see amazing pictures of people getting along famously with wild animals, it doesn’t seem that they’ve ever taught them the standard dogma of “No Bite” and “No Jump” that’s prescribed for the raising and training of domestic dogs?

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Published October 26, 2011 by Kevin Behan
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25 responses to “Why I Don’t Train My Lion Cub “Bite Inhibition” or to Not-Jump-Up”

  1. Crystal says:

    Yep, and neither do I.

  2. It’s true. I saw this guy Ben Killham on TV years ago. He’s a bear rescuer/rehabilitator from New Hampshire. He would rescue lost bear cubs, and let them chew on his hands, jump all over him, etc.


  3. Castor says:

    42 000 000 years, that’s the last common ancestor of the Felidae to Canidae order. Not to mention that dogs are not wild animals. And since you never do any fact checking, let me help

    And to top it off you are confusing 2 different methods and lumping them as one. The NO BITE approach is substantially different from the BITE INHIBITION approach. You’d think a “dog trainer” would know this.

  4. kbehan says:

    I don’t see how the points you make are related to the point I’m making. My point is that you don’t have to teach a dog not to bite, be it the NO BITE approach or the BITE INHIBITION (Dunbar) approach. And isn’t it interesting that keepers of wild animals that achieve amazing rapport, seem to have encouraged mouthing and jumping up. I’m also reminded of the two guys from England reunited with their lion a long time after it had been remanded to an African game park. And since you’ve interjected these links, I think Hannah is right that the lion isn’t in a full bore attack, at least not yet, but it isn’t play either. I also find it interesting that the 2nd trainer that rushes in, and kudos to his bravery, seems to be attempting an Alpha roll, although it could just be a desperate attempt to do something to break the lion’s fixation and indeed it distracted the lion so when it comes to stopping the bleeding I don’t have anything to say but praise. Nevertheless it gets me to wondering if that kind of “discipline” is part of the protocol in the lion’s training. But my question is; if gentling and not worrying about bite inhibition doesn’t seem to be part of the process of successfully achieving rapport with these wild animals, then why would it need to be part of the process of achieving rapport with domestic animals? And since you’ve interjected these links, isn’t it interesting that the highly trained wild animals seem more likely to “snap” and attack then the ones with whom the handler has achieved a high degree of rapport?

  5. Castor says:

    Thousand upon thousands of dogs killed in shelters testify that you do have to teach dogs not to bite. And since your definitions of higher or lower rapport are snatched out of the aether, I reject any claim that you make regarding which animals are more likely to attack. Without hard data it’s difficult to discuss. Though it does make it ripe for your special brand of myth making, like all your other “biggest”, “best”, and “most” that also have no supporting evidence.

    As to your other question:

    Wild animals. Domestic Animals
    Wild animals. Domestic Animals
    Wild animals. Domestic Animals

    see the difference?

  6. kbehan says:

    I’ve never taught any of my dogs not to bite. I taught them what to bite. And when I rehabilitate an aggressive dog. I don’t train it not to bite. I teach it what to bite.

    It’s like honing a diamond from a rough stone, in other words, if domestic animals were selected for from wild animals, then it isn’t logical that they are fundamentally different, but rather, that which have in common with their wild ancestors, has been amplified.

  7. Castor says:

    There is no “if” about it. Domestic animals had wild ancestors. Fundamentally is one of the many loaded words you use that really add nothing to the discussion. Like “essence”. Domestic and wild animals are different and they share commonalities, whether deleted, amplified, muted, fragmented or mutated.

  8. kbehan says:

    The word fundamental is fundamental, not loaded. That’s like saying the term “prime number” is loaded. Dogs are “different” because there is something fundamental in the makeup of its wild ancestor that was selected for. Logically they cannot be fundamentally different from their wild ancestor, but rather differ in terms of how pronounced this fundamental trait is within their makeup relative to the makeup of their wild ancestors.

  9. Castor says:

    If the differences are fundamental to you, then you’ve trivialized the word to absurd proportions. That’s the difference between you and a logical and scientifically minded person. They don’t rely on vague declarations. Since they are different, your logic fails and so does your understanding of the word fundamental.

  10. kbehan says:

    It’s interesting that you want to change the subject to an exercise in semantics. So for the edification of the readers who can judge for themselves, it would seem that wild dangerous animals that prove to be socially stable and unbelievably affectionate with their human handlers were not taught not to mouth and jump up on their handlers. In fact, because the lion feels uninhibited about making contact it therefore feels connected and there seems to be little “charge” between them. My conclusion is that the cub in the lion survived into adulthood in terms of its relationship with its human. As an adult it acts towards its human just as it did as a cub. So that’s why I don’t train my lion cub “No Bite” or “No Jump.” As cubs I just don’t put them into situations when I could anticipate an over stimulated response. Then when my lion has grown up, it feels as close to me as it did as a cub.

  11. kbehan says:

    Perhaps this analogy will clarify my point for the reader. A photovoltaic cell, while completely man-made, nevertheless shares the fundamental principle of photovoltaics in common with wild, photosynthesizing plants. So they are different in many ways, but not fundamentally different. Likewise, the domestic dog shares the fundamental emotional dynamic (“emotosynthesis”: converts energy into information) with its wild ancestor, but it has been magnified through domestication so as to occupy a higher proportion of the domestic dogs’ mind. Thus dogs are different from their wild ancestors, but not fundamentally different.In fact, it is most accurate to say they are different by virtue of the very fundamental they have in common.

  12. AZStu says:

    Castor: , ie, Subaru etc:

    I know you feel very passionate about the subject of Natural Dog Training and that this blog clearly has interested you over the past year. I respect your viewpoint and like reading your comments. It is all too easy for people to become blind followers of a style of dog training, whether positive, dominance or natural and it it is always nice to see new thoughts and challenges to NDT. I don’t however, like that your words inevitably take on a mocking or scornful tone and that you let your anger get the best of you. I think you can do better than that. Finally, do you really have to hide behind the names of stars? You may disagree with KB but at least he is confident enough in his views to put his name to print.

  13. Castor says:

    “Prime numbers” says something. It tells the reader the numbers in question belongs to the set of N and it has only itself or 1 as a divisor. That’s what you lack specificity. Fundamental doesn’t say anything other than the writer is going for rhetoric because he lacks facts.

  14. kbehan says:

    Fundamental means: “one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is.” (Webster’s)

    I’m making an observation about the rapport between lions and certain handlers and how interesting it is that they have obviously not taught them bite inhibition or no jump ala modern canine behaviorism. It’s an observation, not represented as a fact. For example, in an earlier comment you observed that millions of dogs were put to death each year because they hadn’t been taught bite inhibition. That’s an observation not a fact, and in fact is a rhetorical statement.

  15. Castor says:

    I’m actually trying to steer the conversation back away from semantics. I’m asking you to discuss objective facts. If you could do so, there would be no need for your misuse of words. It is not unbelievable that animals can be affectionate with humans. If you really believe it is, then it says more about your thought processes than it does about the animals. If you don’t then it’s more rhetoric.

    It is fundamentally wrong to suggest there is a fundamental similar. The search for fundamentals proved to be a fundamental waste of time. In this case since there is no fundamental definition of what is fundamental to the animal any claim toward fundamental similarities is fundamentally
    flawed. Ans since were on the topic, the use of ‘therefore’ is also misapplied since your conclusion is not a logical consequence of the assertion.

    What is really apparent from the LMGTFY results is that the animals were – to use your language – socially stable and affectionate. Until they weren’t. So, the claim about the cub surviving in the lion doesn’t hold any weight. It is another just-so story.(google it)

    Someone in the possession of facts would not make a claim about fundamental similarities regarding photovoltaic and photosynthesis – since they are not. They would speak about electrons, wavelength, semiconductors and excitation levels. As for PHS, the chemistry is even more complicated and so is the physics, though I won’t go into it since this is not a physics forum.As to the other story about emotosynthesis, on this too you have no evidence and so you are once again fundamentally wrong to assert shared fundamentals.

  16. kbehan says:

    Given the facts in your command, is there some fundamental organization to the arrangement of atoms on the periodic table or is it haphazard?

  17. christine randolph says:

    haha poor castor. it really is an insult to you that Kevin “never checks his facts”… with the biting….the dog is fun and great and bites only with a TON of inhibition until such time that they DON’T show the inhibition, why, usually because of fear and feeling cornered or unsure of themselves. or. because super hungry and killer instinct becomes strong because of the need to survive.
    so, if mama or daddy forget to feed their doggie and/or put them into situations that they are unlikely to be able to cope with…voila, another doggie in the shelter…..

    like a person, who, maybe not entirely mentally healthy, starts to bite others might very easily end up in an asylum for the rest of their lives, doped up and in restraints. its not like we only treat stray ANIMALS like that without asking too much about why or how.

    as a doggie parent or minder of the mentally insane its not easy to foresee all eventualities but it is necessary, more important than doing a bunch of training and then feeling so safe and secure with that and thinking there is nothing to worry about. and THEN BOOM the dog bites someone…but i trained him all the time not to dooooo that ! yeah too bad i guess you are not such a good dog trainer, should’ve thunk before you let yourself get overly confident about your fabulous skills with your dog.

  18. Castor says:

    Poor Kevin, led astray by his belief in fundamentals. Those who know about science know that the arrangement on Mendeleev’s periodic table is just one of the many schemes that have been proposed. Don’t you have access to Wikipedia where you live? Or is it that you really don’t care about the facts?

  19. kbehan says:

    Indeed science is constantly searching for alternative fundamentals around which to organize its tables. Are you saying that some of these tables are arranged haphazardly? Meanwhile biology sees gene replication as fundamental to evolution and so I’m merely proposing an alternative.
    And if I’m being led astray by a search for fundamentals, what about the billions of dollars being spent on linear particle accelerators?

  20. Castor says:

    Kevin writes:

    “Fundamental means: “one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is.” (Webster’s)”


    “science is constantly searching for alternative fundamentals around which to organize its tables”

    With over 2 dozen varieties of periodic tables, which Kevin believes are organized around fundamentals. Kevin once again proves he doesn’t know the meaning of the word. Feel free to laugh.

  21. kbehan says:

    Be sure to let the folks at CERN know they should stop looking for the Higgs particle.

  22. Russell says:

    I think we could learn a lot from Castor and his LMGTFY. I also don’t think he has a clue, but he certainly has an enquiring mind, prepared to question authority, and has extensive knowledge (albeit through google). I’m sure if we talked about Skinner he’d give us the complete run-down of all his papers and research – but I’m guessing he hasn’t dealt with truly messed-up dogs, been lunged at, barked at, and bitten with a feeling that rattles your stomach and tingles the hairs on your neck. So when we talk about fundamentals perhaps we should get him to do the research. My guess is that NDT is closer to fundamentals than many fields. We’re playing with the string theories of dog training, where things aren’t necessarily what you think. The foundation on balance and hunger is unique and I believe fundamental. (Castor can you google that for me?) Using balance keeps cropping up in training (think tigers on a circus podium, ramps/platforms in zoos, even the Baileys used these ideas extensively i.e. cats staying in place in busy airports) but no-one has provided a theoretical basis. My guess is that hunger and balance are orthogonal vectors in a similar way to electricity and magnetism. There’s also this thing about circles and harmonics. Fundamental? So perhaps wherever there is a restorative force, some feedback mechanism or control system, you’ll get oscillations and resonances. System response functions driven by a sudden movement or lunge from a handler. Where aggression is just non-linearity that needs constraining, and play is on the fringes of chaos. Pull apart these ideas please Castor, to help me make sense of all this because I know its not just stimulus-response.

  23. Christine says:

    Good job, Russell and a nice little rub-a-dub to you! 😀

  24. Cliff says:

    I keep coming back to this: living furry proof sleeping peacefully at my feet, not bouncing off the walls, a result of the process of learning *where* to bite instead of *not* to bite. “Those who know about science…”. Somebody’s been googling their head off.

  25. Socrates says:

    But Castor, what is a fact?

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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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