Your Questions

Thanks to our readers, the Natural Dog Training site is full of fantastic questions and interesting scenarios. We are continuing to develop the site in order to nurture this dynamic, growing community, and hope to provide more and more resources to improve your learning experiences with NDT. At the moment, we realize that there are often questions or comments that don’t quite have a place within the articles, and so we’ve created this post for that exact purpose.

Please feel free to come here and leave a comment about your experiences, a question about your dog’s behavior, something that you’re stuck on, or something you’ve accomplished. In short, if you’re going through the site, and have something to say that doesn’t quite fit elsewhere – this is the place! We hope this will make your reading experience a little easier, and we’ll continue to develop the tools you need to Keep on Pushing!

~ The NDT Team

The Selbach family dog, Athos

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Published June 27, 2010 by Kevin Behan

506 responses to “Your Questions”

  1. Joanne says:

    thankyou so much for getting back to me so quickly – I felt it was all wrong. I will need to do some thinking about practical ways to address over the next week as I am just learning your techniques – just to clarify – are you suggesting that I go off to the side and do the dummy work with him, while the rest are standing and watching and one dog is working?

    The trainer might be up for it, if I speak to him about it beforehand (although he might feel I’m a cheeky upstart – they all seem a bit macho) he might also feel that it could disrupt the other dogs – if they are all trying to sit still and be controlled, which I guess it might. I guess the answer might be ‘find another class/club’, which will be difficult. It would be great to introduce another way by positive example – the training is through the labrador society in scotland and there are very few other options for me – but it might just be a step too far

    thankyou once again

  2. kbehan says:

    By all means consult with the trainer and hopefully they’ll be up for it. Nevertheless I can assure you that in ten years they will all be doing the method I’ve prescribed. I’m going to be a bit tiresome on this subject but my purpose is to promulgate the true reason for why dogs do what they do. When I wrote “NDT” I expected that the unassailable logic of the prey instinct/drive as overarching template for canine behavior would change the marketplace of ideas. Instead, mainstream behaviorism incorporated bite toy play into their regimen and called it a “high value reward” (as if that is saying something) and as just one more kind of reinforcement (in those days the admonition was to never encourage your dog to bite in any way shape or form). Simultaneously they mislabeled my theory as simplistic. Since NDT absorbs criticism from other systems of training, and yet shifts the thinking without the thinking behind the shift being given its due, I’m going to be a bit relentless in pointing out the contradiction in terms.
    In 1998 I worked with a trainer who was having difficulty teaching her dog to stay in the start position at Agility training while the other dogs were running the course. The same situation you are dealing with. So I taught her how to use the push for food, and hold position for the bite toy, and then carry the toy around the grounds while other dogs were working, rather than focusing on teaching her dog to sit or down stay. The head trainer at this particular Agility club was nationally ranked and I believe one year won the national competition. Then 12 years later I’m working with another person from the agility world and they tell me that this is now common training practice in the Agility world. Now maybe someone else thought of it on their own, but I wonder if there is any instance of it happening before 1998 and at any rate, because of NDT theory of owner-as-access-channel-to-prey, this theory dictated the method as the logical extension of the theory whereas in dominance or learning theory approach it represents a contradiction in terms. So by all means be deferential, work as far away from the other dogs so that they aren’t distracted, and when your dog is ready, bring it into the fray with the dummy calmly in its mouth which won’t both anyone, then make it down/stay with dummy ten feet in front of it, walk around the grounds with your dog waiting patiently in the down/stay for you to return for the “strike” command and you’ll be all set. do whatever you have to do to finagle club politics, egos, the reasonable needs of the other folks, in order to this point, do so with diplomacy, tact and infinite forbearance because in ten years they will all be doing it this way and hopefully the market will better understand why it works. For a dog there is only one reward, energy running to ground via the prey instinct/drive. The human heart works exactly the same way and so you’ll feel so much better doing it this way as well.

  3. john cassidy says:

    that first paragragh sounds like fighting talk, kevin, other systems are not going to highlight threats to their reign, and at the same time they understand the truth in your knowledge behind closed doors, too many dosh floating round in the dog world, for the big guns to take you on ,they’ve too much to lose,,like a good fighter on the way up, nobody in the top 10 wants anything to do with ya, you’ve all the tools ,there’re running scared,,best of luck,,

  4. kbehan says:

    Appreciate your patience on this matter, I just don’t want the technique to be coopted into the learning theory paradigm, and then be told there’s nothing new going on in NDT which is historically how these discussions have played out. I’m just going to keep pushing.

  5. Joanne says:

    Hi Kevin, looking for clarification on your advice what do you mean – push for the dummy? do I hold the dummy as I do the food and let the pup take it when he is pushing?

  6. kbehan says:

    Right, he overpowers the resistance of the empty hand to get the dummy being held in the other hand, I have a brief video of push/pull of war with Hessian on site.

  7. Christine says:

    sensai — do dogs grieve the loss of their person? If they do, what would be the proper response (if there even is one, that is)? My thinking is that they carry their person in their heart, they are not aware of a beginning or end of life so grieving is not necessary/possible. However, they must feel a sense of loss even so. How does that work for dogs? Just curious…

  8. Milo says:

    Kevin, apart from the Siberian Huskies we have, we also have a German Short Haired Pointer, Bali. I was reading one of the GSP breed books the other day researching something else, when I came across a comment regarding playing tug of war with a GSP if it is to be used as a retrieving gun dog. It says ” Do not ever play tug of war as it will harden the mouth”. I am guessing that, like most dog books, tug of war in this context, is based on the “old ‘if you play you must win and the dog must never win or it will become dominant’ school” of thinking. So of course the mouth will get harder as the dog is having to put more bite into trying to hold onto the toy/bird whatever it is. Where as my experience with Bali, as I use NDT, is completely the reverse. Because I am letting her win all the time, she is not just trying to hold on, she is developing more feeling in her mouth and learning that when she should and shouldn’t apply pressure. As a result she has the softest mouth going, she has an excellent bite when needed, but also knows how to control it when required, my hand in her mouth etc. In fact when playing tug of war with the other dogs, she usually just stands holding the toy, whilst they are pulling on it!

    I don’t actually use her for hunting or shooting, so it doesn’t matter to me but would be interested to hear if I have the principle correct. I have her because her energy type is similar to the Sibes, but she does not have the same intense prey drive instinct of them. She is excellent off lead, and I love watching her “working” the track and cover to either side 50 – 100 yards in front of us, whilst out on walks. Interestingly the sibes do not get upset when she is off lead around them, personally, I feel that they look on her as the pack scout, rather like when wolves are on the hunt sending out their point wolf, she is searching for the next Moose and driving the hunt forward, but always returning to the pack to touch base or when called.


  9. kbehan says:

    I believe it’s possible to teach a dog to have a crushing bite in one context, and a soft mouth in another. For example, training my dogs around the chickens, first I have them bite the toy as hard as possible in the chicken yard so that I’m channeling their prey instinct into prey drive. Then when they’ve calmed to the chickens, I hide an egg in the yard and have them search for the egg with the chickens scurrying and squawking to get out of their way. Next, I train them to carry the egg to the rock outside the yard where they can eat it and it is in the carrying to rock phase that they must master the soft mouth, only cracking the egg when they get to their place. So, even though I haven’t done it and experience is our most important teacher, I believe it’s possible to play push/pull of war with a hard bite toy with gun dog and they will still be able to hold the soft body of bird softly in mouth. I believe channeling of energy allows for proper bite pressure depending on context as for example the mother wolf bites prey hard, carries pups soft. Energy channeled into a feeling IS the faculty of discrimination (rather than higher cognitive processes). The important thing is to use the correct sequence of the master prey making drive to elicit the behavior you want to promote in any given context, so egg with soft mouth comes through the carrying component of master prey making Drive.

  10. Milo says:

    Kevin, Why do many dogs have issues with Black Labradors when meeting them for the first time, especially when on lead? I have often heard people say that their dog’s only real issue, when meeting other dogs, is when they meet a black lab. Then when they see the same dog in the future, even across the road, they start charging. I take it there is initially an attraction but when they finally meet that cannot then flip polarities to allow the energy to continue to flow and therefore they clash. And, so in future meetings, they are already getting charged up if the outline of the black dog they are seeing, matches their original “issue” dog.


  11. kbehan says:

    Many black labs put out so much energy, and get right in the dog’s face, that it swamps a dog’s emotional circuits, especially when restrained on a lead so this as you note creates a charge. The dog is actually trying to retain its balance around the lab. Then, when they see them at a distance, the intensity of that charge, and the smallness of the lab at a distance, intensifies the attraction to a prey instinct level that can be hard for them to soften out of when they get close.

  12. Joanne says:

    but why black?

  13. Joanne says:

    thanks for your question about tug and gundogs – I wnat to train my lab as gundog but have been totally bowled over by NDT and am trying to marry the two into a working solution. I am working on getting the tugging right and your post has helped me think about my approach

  14. kbehan says:

    The color black is a predatory aspect, hard to project into it (and thus turn a ping into a pong). Whereas the color white is preyful aspect, easy to project into it. Vulnerable, underside of a dog is light colored (preyful), topside darker (predatory). A horse woman told me that the dark colored horses in her stables would pick on a white one. Makes sense as energy moves from concentrated pole (predator) to less concentration (preyful). I also read somewhere that in the NFL the teams with the dark colored uniforms are called for more fouls than the light colored ones. So at any rate, the dark color can intensify the charge created by the over-exuberance of the black lab temperament.

  15. Milo says:

    Kevin, Is there anything to be said for other dogs having a problem reading the signals from a black lab? Or for that matter any floppy eared breed? I have noticed that labs can appear friendly but then, bang, without warning they have bitten you or another dog. Dogs like sibes, GSD etc with pointed ears tend to be far more obviously expressive and curl their lips more effectively.

    With regards horses, it may explain why white or light coloured horses roll more often than dark coloured ones, they are trying to make themselves less conspicuous! Many years ago I remember a stallion who refused to cover white mares, until the stud hand had a rug put over the mares back to hide the colour!

    @ Joanne – No problems, I like to understand all aspects of the dog, especially the working and sporting breeds and how we can acknowledge the breed specialities, even if I don’t personally intend to use the dog for its originally bred purpose. It also seems logical, as NDT is focusing on the core elements of the dog’s make up, and this type of training can only enhance the breed traits. After all, all dogs however specialised, are based on an aspect or two of the hunting prey drive process, whether it be rounding up sheep, pulling a sled or searching for game or injured climbers etc.


  16. kbehan says:

    I think that’s a fair point, labs are unformed physically, so in that way they put out a vague transmission of an internal state, and when encountering other dogs that have had their receiver dulled from typical domesticated/overly trained life, the other dog won’t pick up an internal disconnect in the lab and so bang.
    I didn’t know that light colored horses rolled more. Sounds to me like they feel more pressured and thus need to roll more for “grounding.” Internally, this might also be reflected in a subtle physiological/constitutional quality as well so that they’re not as hardy.

  17. Adam Silverman says:

    I’ve attached this clip below by Jacque Fresco on instinct, animal behavior, and changing attitudes. Really interesting points, all of it relevant here.

  18. Adam Silverman says:

    Another really interesting clip. Jacque says in the middle of the clip that “the brain has no mechanism for knowing that which is relevant,” but instead has to experience anything that is to be learned. I think this is really important for how we interpret behavior. Last week I was walking down a crowded, urban street, and a tiny kitten came out of nowhere and started chasing my feet, wagging its tail, and being active and direct. Where’s the “scaredy cat” that we all know? How is this cat not concerned with my enormous size, speeding motorbikes, cars, sounds, etc. Where’s the instinct that is so prominent in cats mechanical-like behavior? And the answer is that instinct is energy, and energy is shaped by the environment. The kitten will not be afriad of being shooed…until it is shooed, and similarly the dog can only be “dominant” if and when it experiences dominance. So Power Ranger the reason dominance instinct doesn’t make sense is because it presumes that a dog is born with a genetically programmed desire for dominance. But the “brain has no mechanism for knowing that which is relevant,” and he can’t be born knowing that dominance and submission are the rules of the road, but has to experience it first hand.

  19. kbehan says:

    Right, I like to say if an owner believes in dominance, they they will get back a confirmation of dominance in their dog. Therefore I ask my clients to examine the language they use to describe their dog as a first step in changing the dog’s pattern.
    Great interview, I especially like his comments about assumptions. The most important thing being to know which ones we are laboring under.
    I would add the following to what he’s saying. Given that all animals operate with the same emotional code as operating system of consciousness, what we know without experience is the principle of emotional conductivity. The predatory aspect reflects the projection of emotion and can interrupt the flow of consciousness thereby causing stress, whereas preyful aspects ground emotion. (Thus the pattern of an eye on the back of an animal’s head has a universal value in nature without experience). The predatory aspect reflects emotion back onto the projector of emotion and if this can continue to elaborate back and forth without an interruption of consciousness, it can emerge as love. Love is the capacity to project into something and feel no resistance as well as feeling the addition of energy (unresolved emotion becoming resolved) and ultimately there is a merger of two selves into the feeling of one self that is even stronger than the impulse to survive. For example, the infant baby isn’t grateful for the mother’s love because it begins life feeling its mother is a part of her self, a part of her own body. Later when she’s older and the mother and the realities of life differentiates the mother’s self from her baby’s identification of her self, the trouble of ego can get in with both parties. So the human intellect can choose to override the merger of selves and in this way the role of experience is extremely germane, but doesn’t in my view mean that there is no such thing as love.

  20. Lynn says:

    So I know of this website that blogs about their dogs, and the last two dogs they’ve gotten, they’ve documented it’s life weekly for the first year, and monthly after that. They do use the dominance theory, although from what I can tell, their dogs do quite well, however I much prefer the way of NDT. Anyways, what interested me was they documented picking out their puppy, and why they picked out that specific one, and their views on how it was. Here’s the quote:

    “The kids and I had pin pointed Spencer from looking at pictures over email, however I also knew I wanted the most submissive puppy in the litter and the breeder was willing to let me pick. When we walked in and looked at the puppies they all became very excited, jumping at the side of the cage and whining. All but one pup who calmly remained in the back, not caring to push his way past his siblings. His tail was not between his legs, so he was not unsure of himself. He did not look afraid, nor did he look shy. I would not have wanted to choose a pup who had any of those traits either. I asked the breeder which puppy was the one we were eyeing up over the emails and he said it was the one in the back. I took that pup out of the crate and placed him on the floor for a bit to see what he would do. His tail started to wag and he started to explore. When the breeder stated he had always been like that I knew he was the one. PERFECT! It could not have worked out any better. The fact that Spencer was not bothering to get in front of his litter mates, and remained calm through all of the excitement told me that he was the pick of the litter for me. The most calm, submissive puppy in the bunch! Often times people choose the pup who is the most forward, the one who jumps off the chair first, the one who explores first, the one pushing in front to see them. They take it as the dog being smart and loving them. Yes the pup may be smart, but they are also the most dominant. The leader. Follower dogs are much easier to handle and do better with children, challenging humans less. The puppy who calmly hangs back, with his tail relaxed is the more submissive one of the bunch. ”

    A pic of the puppies when they went to pick them out:

    I was wondering what your view of the way the different puppies were acting is, based on the information that this blogger provided.

    In my opinion, the puppy that they choose isn’t necessarily the most submissive, but more so the least interested in humans and other dogs; in interacting with others. In other words, the least social-able, or the least caring/feeling. He doesn’t need nor really want to be with humans. Very blasé,

    Anyway, looking forward to your thoughts!


  21. john says:

    just a question,,on a day to day basis, how much interaction should i have with the dog or should i just let him do his own thing
    i do play tug, retrieving, pushing for play,at different times of the day, maybe half hour in total, it seems enough, and leave him wanting more, but apart from that, should i always ask him to push for food ?,he getting better but not at full force and has to be pretty hungry, petting him everytime he comes over does not leave him wanting more if he expects it every time , if ya get my drift, or should i just ignore him , would he be more responsive if he was ignored more, generally i dont crowd him,and just pet him when he get his head under my arm,, is less better ?thanks

  22. Milo says:

    Kevin, along with the Siberian Huskies we also have a German Shorthaired Pointer, who has always loved lying on the floor in the sitting room, with either a small rope dog tug toy or a piece of “dead” tennis ball, which one of the sibes has previously “killed”, in her mouth and then throwing it straight up and watching it land, then she goes and picks it up and proceeds to trow it again. Her face as she watches the object flying through the air is a picture. Why is she doing it? Is it just play or is there some thing else going on? In fact our youngest sibe has also learnt to “play” the same game!


  23. kbehan says:

    Potential energy is at the root of a feeling because feelings evolved to capture and harness energy. I believe this is the real driving force of evolution rather than survival or gene replication. Therefore dogs can feel potential energy and then can choose to revisit this feeling. So a dog sees an inert preyful object, and because of past physical memories can feel is potential energy thus inducing a state of frustration which compels it to reanimate it with a throw and thus revisit the feeling of potential energy as it sails through the air. My dog Illo liked to drop a Kong into the water from a dock and then spend time trying to dredge it up from the bottom where it had sunk. He creates a tension between himself and the object, the release from which is the experience of pleasure. This is the puppy mind feeling movement in the shape of a thing.

  24. Cliff says:

    Energy: the other night we went to an event in the country. The car that pulled in next to us had a dog, and out he came, with owner. L got pretty excited, so i put him up on a convenient tree stump and got him to “speak”. Now most times when we do this, i get some pretty good snorts, sneezes and woofs. This time gave a bark (or two) that came right from the bottom, and he immediately calmed down, go in the car, and curled up— energy re-directed. The other dog’s owner asked about the nice result, but when I tried to explain to the other dog’s owner the difference between the dog barking and asking for the bark, she started looking at me funny…

    Last night, L was relaxing on top of his crate just as it was about time for him to go in it. In casual conversation, i said “OK” (the cue for him to get off), and he jumped off and sat by the door to go out. When he came back to be let in, he went right in his crate. Maybe that’s why *schutzhund* commands are in German…

  25. Adam Silverman says:

    When teaching a dog to bark on command, do you start with the command speak and then reward behavior related to barking and/or hunger…or do you just poise yourself with the food and wait for/reward that behavior, without first commanding.
    Also…if a dog has learned to speak as a trick when he was younger, but the bark is weak and based in his head. Should you choose a different word to start the new, deeper type of barking?

  26. kbehan says:

    You don’t need to change the command, which in the beginning should be a more of a word of encouragement rather than a demand, simply go into the poised “ready” position, (this body tension induces a feeling of pressure in the dog, the collapse of which will eventually induce a bark if the dog is referencing its hunger circuitry). Therefore, give the dog food for any sign of softening from the pressure induced by your body tension, even blinking of eyes, and even turning gaze away because the pressure is too much, just to ensure holding the dog’s focus on its hunger circuitry. As the dog is able hold its external focus on the food, in conjunction with the owner’s physical center of gravity, in conjunction with its own physical center-of-gravity, it is then able to push more of its energy (aroused by desire for food) into that feeling and that’s when you get a deep, strong bark. (Also, if the dog is inhibited, encouraging it to jump up can help it connect the two focal points of its p-cog and owner’s p-cog and that can speed up learning to bark.)

  27. Adam Silverman says:

    Thank you, that helps. My other question is about encouraging a dog to bite a tug toy. Would it not help to shape a dog’s behavior with a clicker gradually towards picking up a particular bite toy. Then when he got it, you could run with the dog side by side, as the dog has the toy in his mouth. It might get him comfortable with using his mouth in a higher intensity moment.

  28. kbehan says:

    That’s an interesting question but no, I believe shaping the behavior as in a learning exercise is counterproductive. The dog has to project into the toy as a displacement of its owner’s center-of-gravity so that it is overcoming resistance and fighting to get the toy (which by is why it will want to keep it after having it). (Barking and pushing helps facilitate this.) This is a foundation that might as well be put in place at the beginning and then built upon with subsequent accomplishment. A faulty foundation is why you see so many dogs that are doing things out of stimulation, but not true drive, and then they collapse all the harder when they finally encounter resistance and worse, they then attribute this collapse to having toy in mouth.

  29. Adam Silverman says:

    A question about pushing. Do you feed the dog AS she’s pushing into you, or do you have the dog push and then feed the dog? And if you feed the dog after she’s pushed, do you still have your hand supporting her as she eats, or do you let her down and then feed her? Also, do you move backwards as the dog is pushing or remain stationary and just stabilize your hand for the dog to push into?

  30. Christine says:

    Hey Kevin…just read LCK’s latest blog regarding dogs humping. I’ve always wondered about this one as Bodie gets humped a lot! 🙁 I know it has to do with moving energy but would like more clarification, please. Also, what should be done about it? Should it be uninterrupted? If so, how? Should it be ignored, tolerated or should the energy be redirected; again, if so – how? Should it be handled differently when the behavior takes place indoors? Thanks a bunch for your input! 😀

  31. kbehan says:

    Your question can be answered in many ways so I’ll take a stab at being comprehensive. Sexuality in my view is a process of transformation wherein the prey/predator modality evolves into personality/sociability. What this means, is that a sexual attraction is a means of holding onto the feeling of an object of attraction’s preyful essence despite a high rate of change that is being encountered when trying to make contact. So when an individual experiences resistance to making contact with an object of attraction, if it can still feel “grounded” into said object of attraction, the body/mind becomes “sensualized” (form and movement of external object of attraction moves p-cog smoothly within the body/mind of the “projector”) which can then lead to a state of attunement and this is a refined source of information. The body/mind is moving from the electrostatic like predator/prey modality of instinctual reflexes, into a magnetized state (Drive) and this enables it to feel how to deflect its emotional attraction into a more circumspect manner of making contact and without feeling any loss of emotional momentum. This is how wolves hunt a large prey they can’t physically overpower, and it is also the source of their social cohesion, a phenomenon intimately affiliated with the phenomenon we otherwise call neotony. This sexual/neotonus capacity is what early man inadvertently amplified in the domestication process given man and wild canid’s common interest in the same large, dangerous prey and so this is why dogs are able to make contact with “path of highest resistance,” i.e. human beings, and why dogs are so easily deflected onto a common pathway (harmonic, i.e. respective energies coming into phase.) as when a pet’s focus shifts along the axis where its owner points or looks. (And more importantly, along the axis an owner’s emotional mind focuses its energy toward, the backbone of the emotional body dog and owner compose in their interactions through space and time.)
    So when a dog humps an object of attraction, then it is “trying” to get that thing moving. If it’s humping inanimate things, then it is projecting a predatory aspect onto this thing which means its prey threshold is too low, a mature dog shouldn’t project a predatory aspect onto an inanimate object in order to induce a feeling, this indicates being overly frustrated. This means it hasn’t been encouraged to focus and express its energy toward the path of highest resistance in a coherent manner. Thus it never hits the “stop signal” to achieve a state of satisfaction. Contributing to community is energy moving toward the path of highest resistance and this is the highest expression of a sexual nature, not sex as procreation or even recreation, and only this high level can deliver the organism to a state of satisfaction. The lesser functions lead to frustration.
    First recognizing what excessive humping means in a mature dog, is the first order of business rather than trying to “fix” it. A dog fighting to make contact with the object of highest resistance is the solution. The dog needs to be pushed to the max so that it can feel free. A dog that keeps-on-humping requires an owner who Keeps On Pushing!

  32. Joanne says:

    Briliant, Christine your question came up just when I was trying to remember what I had read in NDT about this, as I watched my trailhound (Logan) humping the lab puppy. Thanks Kevin for the careful answer. In Logan’s case the humping started after they had been playing and they had stopped. Reading Kevin’s explanation this was maybe Logan’s way of getting Archie moving again. I’m wondering why he would use this way rather than the usual shoving that they do to get things moving. The other way Logan has of getting a dog to play with him is spinniing around in cirlces. Does this say something about Logan’s energy?

    Logan is usually the instigator, although sometimes the pup has reciprocated. Logan quite often tries to hump Jack as well, who just sits down. As a trailhound he has the ability to run long distances fast and has a lot of energy. He also has a lot of stuck energy, which we are trying to get moving. From what Kevin is saying it does look like Logan’s behaviours is becaase he is not getting enough grounding of energy. I have made no progress on tug work so far so pushing for food is the only way I have of giving him resistance and he is getting better at that. How does throwing things in the water and swimming for them (which he loves to do) compare as providing resistance. I have been pushing for food with them every day but there had been a lull of this and daily exercise over the last week – different story but am getting back to it. Now I’m left wondering, is the behaviour actually a problem? or just a way of Logan trying to get movement so let them get on with it. It does look to serve as a useful gauge to me that, when it happens its an indicator to me that Logan needs to overcome resistance in his day to day activities than he is getting at that time. The other thing that occurs to me is that Logan is the only neutered dog of the three and I suspect was neutered pre-1-year old – would this contribute to the behaviour.

    I would be interested in any views?.

  33. kbehan says:

    A reason a dog mounts a dog rather than bumping him to get him moving, and we must always remember there is no intention in what the dog is doing, is because the front-end-isn’t-connected-to-the-hind end except through the “emotional body” which includes the object of attraction. Thus, the dog is trying to connect its front-end-to-its-hind-end by coupling with the body of the other dog. He’s projected his physical center of gravity into the body of the other dog and sexual contact is a higher and more elaborate means of “ingesting” i.e. grounding out the stimulation of attraction as opposed to actually gripping with its jaws.

    If you notice, a dog is also doing this when he defecates. The pushing force of exertion represents a certain degree of emotional momentum which causes the dog to project its p-cog out into the surroundings to a specific distance and then he orients, circles and moves along to a precise spot that represents energy running to completion.

    Also about Logan, if he’s getting his prey/play-making ya-yas out with the other dogs, then it will prove very difficult for him (especially since he’s neutered and that he’s a hound) to channel his prey/play-making ya-yas in the direction of a human being, the path of highest resistance. Humans don’t put out the magnitude of prey like energy as do a fluffy tailed, four legged animal with a horizontal topline and more bulbous body shape. The pushing will help and is more powerful than swimming because the resistance is being offered by a human being, and the dog is overcoming this specific to a human. My advice is to deny him a chance to play with the other dogs until he’s playing with tug toy. And then when he’s playing with the other dogs, do a “ready” and he comes to push for food in mid-play session so that you can insert your being into his mind as energy circuit when engaged in play with other dogs.

  34. Milo says:

    Kevin, this is a link to an article about a GSD which failed the police training as she did not have a “bite”. Can all dogs be taught a good bite through NDT or are some dogs just not cut out for the police work? I note that she was a little timid and afraid of children, any thoughts or comments? I would be interested as I know this is where you have a huge amount of experience and wondered whether the number of successful canine police recruits would increase if the training was adapted and more flexible to suit the individual dog’s main drive or are some dogs may be simply too nice?


  35. Joanne says:

    Thanks Kevin for feedback on Logan I will persevere as you suggest . I was interested to know what it is about hounds that you think will make it more difficult to channel their prey/play making. They do seem to be more acutely sensitive to emotion – well compared to the lab anyway, I haven’t got anything else to compare it to and I wondered if that was what you were alluding to?

    On the (very rare!) occasion I have lost my temper with the kids one of hounds makes a sharp exit (Logan) and the other jumps up on me (Jack) ….to calm me down? One of my hamiltonstovare friends tells of story when she was, unusually, pulled across the road by her three hounds split seconds before a van veered into a hedge where she had previously been walking

  36. kbehan says:

    Yes all dogs can be trained to bite with a good hard grip, however while every dog participates in Temperament (“T”) so that they have the complete code at their disposal depending on the conductivity of the situation, nevertheless every dog has a temperament (“t”) with a preferred resting place (active/direct–reactive/direct–active/indirect–reactive/indirect) in response to resistance and only those dogs that are at (active/direct) when under duress are qualified to do police work; and then the capacity to have that in conjunction with the capacity to be deflected-without-loss-of-momentum (biddable yet persistent) is the proverbial one-out-of-a-hundred specimen. You can see with this dog that she may in fact be too ball happy and whatever active/direct she had, leeched out with too much play/stimulation, i.e. mousing over moosing. Thus when confronted with path of most resistance, she felt inhibited. We also don’t know if obedience was over emphasized in her development. We must remember that it’s always better to be too discriminating with a police dog candidate then too lenient as an officer’s life is on the line. A dog that gets through all these filters, will certainly have to be active/direct when under duress.

  37. Milo says:

    Kevin thank you for your previous replies.

    Could NDT in part be described as, you acting as an earthing rod for the safe dissipation of your dog’s energy?


  38. Adam says:

    What material or item do you recommend using as a tug toy for your dog?

  39. kbehan says:

    For portability, I like to have rope toys, or toys I make from radiator hoses. For training purposes I like to use the bite tubes from protection equipment makers, and I also use bite sleeves attached to a rope in order to give a dog a lot of tactile input, full body contact as a means of getting its aggression out of the system.

  40. Adam says:

    Thanks, I finally got the bite, but it comes only after I instigate him with lightly slapping him around. Then when he grabs the sock I’ve been using, he tugs but with a growl. What can I do to neutralize the growl. I keep the tug relatively calm, and then I’ll take out food for barking and push, and then try to instigate the tug again. Anything you would advise to take out that growl?

  41. kbehan says:

    “It” (the charge) can only come out the way it went in, so this is why you need to put pressure on him to elicit the bite. The growling is akin to a rusty valve creaking and groaning as it tries to open. It’s an expression of insecurity, but it also means your dog is now able to feel a desire for the toy even though at the same time he feels insecure, so it’s a necessary and absolutely positive first step forward. As he starts to tug and buck back and wins at this, he will invest more and more energy into his desire for toy, then having toy on a rope, and dog on a lead, it will become possible to lunge him around so that he carries the toy and this will calm his grip and will neutralize the growling. You can intersperse food for barking and pushing in order to maximize the flow of energy during this progression, go by feel to find the right mix in your approach. At some point he will be able to push toy into you as you push him away and this completely neutralizes the insecurity which is the source of the growling. Excellent job and Keep On Pushing!

  42. Christine says:

    Good questions Adam! Thanks for posting them. I always appreciate the nuances in NDT that other’s questions make possible.

    Kevin, a feeling that has been growing lately re: Duncan is that he is/could be infinitely malleable with the right encouragement. Am I off the beam in my assessment of his Temperament/temperament? I’m pretty sure he is still in reactive/direct but that has softened considerably over the past couple of years…and I really haven’t engaged in any kind of ‘real’ strenuous training with him. Just curious as to what your read is.

  43. kbehan says:

    Yes Duncan can be infinitely malleable. He needs to learn to flip and flop polarities so that he doesn’t adhere to that polarity with which he’s most comfortable and familiar and has associated all movement of his emotion. Adam’s post with his dog is a good example of a dog learning to flip polarities onto the Direct/Active role, and this will then allow the energy to begin flowing, and then the dog will start to soften and will be able to “flop polarities.” So when a dog can go from one point on the compass to its opposite (Temperament as a circle) in order to complement an object of attraction, then he becomes infinitely malleable. Keep On Pushing!

  44. Christine says:

    @Kevin…Love your words…truly 🙂

  45. Adam says:

    So I continued the tug, push, speak outside today, went really well. But as we went inside and I tried to take off his leash, he started growling. He’s got several cues, including resource guarding, us leaving the house, and bedtime that set him off. Normally I can take the leash off with minimal and rare growling, but today he just will not let me take it off. I’ve also noticed an increase in him peeing in the house. I know conceptually that this is a reverting to puppyhood, and it must come out the way it went in. But how do I deal with these problems…mainly the aggression? I don’t want to just bite the bullet and go for the leash, because that will trigger an outburst, and even if I don’t get hurt, it’s reinforcing the aggressive pathway. Should I wait for these situations and then have him speak and push? Honestly, it’s a little bit scary and upsetting. I live at home temporarily, and if I leave and the dog is more aggressive and soiling the carpet and what not, then my father who lives here permanently and doesn’t train, is kind of stuck with all these problems. Any thoughts? Ahhh this is really hard, I feel like this is the cusp of change…I don’t want to give up, and I don’t want to make my dog worse off. I’m practicing these techniques for a future as a dog trainer and I want to see them all the way through.

  46. kbehan says:

    What’s coming out is energy that was pushed down previously, and this also means that the dog isn’t ready for prime time, so he shouldn’t have the run of the house with the opportunity to relief his charge through these dysfunctional avenues. He’s lifting his leg indoors as an indirect means of making contact and so until he’s fully channeled and lives for the work outdoors, he should be crated indoors and when you go to take lead off him, which can remain on him when he’s crated for your safety’s sake, you can have him push in for food and massage his neck so that you supple this up and sensualize his neck and muzzle to neutralize how it is currently in a sensitized state when his head is being controlled.. When you leave he should of course be crated where he is most likely to be quiet and your father isn’t inconvenienced. Until all his energy is channeled use mechanical means to keep things moving toward the desired goal. Keep On Pushing!

  47. Adam says:

    ok thanks, and should i use the method outlined on your website for crating? should this be first conducted inside or outside, in order to connect it with the release of pushing when he comes out of the crate? when we crated him as a puppy, he showed aggression even then when we went to push in and lock the crate door, so this is why we got rid of the crate.

  48. Adam says:

    I guess i’m just thinking that in your method for crating a dog, you apply pressure on the neck with a leash and collar, and then let the dog decide to enter the crate. If he’s associated the crate with terror/panic in the past, I’m thinking that perhaps he will react again in the same sort of fashion. Also, he will whine when crated. Should he only be allowed to leave the crate when calm?.

  49. kbehan says:

    The crate is going to reveal another side of the original error in the dog’s development and so the incessant whining. One finesse move is to train the dog to get in the crate in the back of a wagon or pickup truck and then take for rides and leave alone in crate (safely of course) for longer and longer periods. Can even crate dog in car and leave overnight in the garage to help create imprint that calmness in crate leads to flow. Other than that, and pitching a cookie into crate to induce, put crate up on raised surface and then dog gets to choose to go in as crate becomes relatively positive. At some point, dog is going to have to learn to be quiet, but best to begin by putting in quiet place and let dog bark and learn that inefficient barking doesn’t work. Concurrently be teaching the dog to bark efficiently as the counter program.

  50. Crystal says:

    Why do dogs seek out petting from their humans? Why do dogs seek to sleep in contact with their humans?

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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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