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

Want to Learn More about Natural Dog Training?

Join the exclusive and interactive group that will allow you to ask questions and take part in discussions with the founder of the Natural Dog Training method, Kevin Behan.

Join over 65 Natural Dog trainers and owners, discussing hundreds of dog training topics with photos and videos!

We will cover such topics as natural puppy rearing, and how to properly develop your dog's drive and use it to create an emotional bond and achieve obedience as a result.

Create Your Account Today!

Published June 27, 2010 by Kevin Behan

506 responses to “Your Questions”

  1. kbehan says:

    You’ve brought up a subject very near and dear to my heart. In fact, while working with a trainer several weeks ago I was reminded of some other elements of my progression with the pushing idea. I remember in the seventies not being satisfied with the dog biting the sleeve and then bucking back and/or hanging on, putting all its energy into the sleeve rather than the helper. So as the helper, I would put my shoulder into the shoulder of the dog’s handler, and we would push each other with the dog biting the sleeve on my arm. When we found the sweet spot when the handler and I were at a stalemate, we would stay poised at this impasse and the dog would then begin to push into me and this was what I capitalized on to shed the sleeve and let the dog win. Then with the sleeve in its jaws, the handler would lunge the dog on a long line and I would begin to crowd and menace, but just at a low enough threshold so that the dog pulled his handler toward me and began to push the sleeve into me, which I rewarded by slipping my arm back inside and resuming the fight. So I was rewarding the drive-to-make-contact (which is about overcoming resistance) and this became the reward for the dog and then became a logical platform (from an energetic perspective) for the dog learning “civil” agitation. When he was driving into me, I would shed the sleeve and then the handler would begin pulling the dog from me (oppositional reflex and hence triggers Drive) and the dog would voluntarily give up the sleeve to focus on my body, at which point I made suggestive moves that targeted him on my arm, leg or back as a new bite “loci.” I could next throw sleeves at the dog and he would tune these out in order to focus on my unprotected body, as he would have to do on the street. Because all these twists and turns were but normal links in the Drive chain mechanism, it became easy to train the dog to return to the handler from the hold at bay because we could insert the link that in order to bite and drive the helper, he now needed to make contact with the handler. Each of these “waypoints” added energy rather than conflict because we were using prey drive, which is flexible to picking up new “waypoints” unlike prey instinct which quickly becomes fixated on a “loci” and so the dog in Drive could readily leave the helper as a means of returning to the helper without any loss of emotional momentum. The dog enjoyed overcoming resistance rather than just looking for the bite. I recall with pride when other officers caught these dogs in inter-department training sessions, they were surprised by how hard they hit and the first time were generally taken down. It sounded like an NFL linebacker hitting a receiver, or a bat hitting the sleeve. So there is only one drive, the drive to make contact, this facilitates the prey instinct and turns it into prey drive, and pushing in reflects how strong that drive is, and it can be weak or at least underdeveloped and context specific, even when the prey instinct is intense. This capacity to leave the helper to get back to the helper, works because prey drive is about potential energy rather than real energy, so the opportunity for a better bite can induce the dog to want to out, or seek a new loci. I also want to emphasize that every step of the training has to be predicated on attraction. “Out” doesn’t mean to let go of the sleeve (that’s an abstract concept), rather it means to be attracted-to-the-HELPER for a better bite. So we can insert be attracted-to-the-HANDLER as a waypoint to getting back to the helper for the better bite (i.e. potential energy.). I never want to correct a dog for being attracted to the helper as you describe in that training exercise, that’s a fatal kink to put in a working dog’s mind. Finally, this also tied in to the way I taught directed searching as I learned it from my father. The dog could see the helper in one hiding location, and be directed to search other spots first since the cop already knew where the bad guy was. For example, an officer shows up to an office park and knows which building has the alarm but doesn’t know which buildings are clear on the way in, especially with all the landscaping around the perimeters. So we could send the dog around any other building to clear it even when the helper was in plain sight in the hot zone. The really neat thing was that I modified this for a swat situation so that we could send the dog around a building, tree, bush, hill as a prerequisite to attacking the helper and this meant that the dog after rounding whatever obstacle we designated, would now be racing toward the helper from behind and while we feigned a gun fight with the officer pinned down in the cruiser. The handler didn’t have to send his dog straight at the shooter and the criminal would never see the dog coming until he was hit in the back. And if he did notice the dog coming from behind, he had to turn away from the officer to deal with the dog. At some point I want to reach out and train this tactical exercise to law enforcement.

  2. Adam says:

    I’m still confused on how specifically you inserted that link that to get to the helper you have to return to the handler.

  3. kbehan says:

    It’s a philosophy problem more than a training problem and this is why theory and a model of the canine mind is so vital. The dog you saw performing erratically is in conflict between getting the sleeve and listening to its handler. This is because it is in prey instinct and fixated on the sleeve. But if it was in drive, then the guiding principle would be potential energy rather than realized energy, and so the bite that is about to be, is a far more powerful motivation than the sleeve in its mouth. So the dog in drive can learn to let go of the sleeve in order to be attracted to the helper in order to get the bite that is about to be, and in this gap it is very easy to insert the handler as but another waypoint for the bite that is about to be. When a dog is motivated by potential energy rather than a concrete object, it perceives all barriers as a heightening of energy and so leaving the helper to get to the handler makes it feel more energized and hence rewarded, rather than being in a state of conflict. I call this being guided by the motivation of potential energy, a state of conflict without being in conflict. Such a dog perceives the whole exercise with all its complex permutations as ONE MOMENT whereas the dog in conflict perceives every change as a burden and as a series of disjointed moments, with each interruption lessening its experience of feeling energy. Perhaps this is clearer, if not, continue to bark deep and metered.

  4. kbehan says:

    Maybe I should add that apart from the philosophical considerations of Drive, the specific techniques involved training a dog to do directed searches rather than just skidding from empty blind to empty blind to get to the blind where the helper is hiding, barking to the handler before being released to go to the helper, teaching the out as a function of attraction to the helper rather than predicating it as a function of obeying the handler, being sensual when carrying the sleeve and being threatened by the helper, pushing the sleeve into the helper as well as to the handler. There are a lot of other little things that I would need to be reminded of but I think that’s a comprehensive survey.

  5. Ira says:

    Hello Kevin,

    I have been preparing for quite some time to ask for your guidance… I always felt I have nothing in particular to ask and yet so many questions pop every day. I’ll try to be as short as possible and still don’t know if I’ll even ask anything. Ira is 2,5 yrs old, F, adopted 1 yr ago, history unknown except that she was living outside on a chain. She was unsocial when we got her, fearful especially towards men-when walking on leash she would lunge sideways on a man walking by as if she would nip them (she never did and people rarely noticed her opened mouth). Oher dogs were of utmost interest and she would always pull to meet them and she didn’t know how to meet them – she would go into the predator mode, half crouched with intense stare. SOmetimes it ended in play most of the times I didn’t let her meet with dogs and we would go further. She pulled like crazy on leash. Things are much better know.

    I accidentaly stumbled on your and all other NDT info and my world has changed. Your ideas and approach are so breathtaking and videos of you working with dogs (especially at QC – The D.Martels house feels like reading a poetry).

    I tried and have been trying for 6 months know (not every day though), and her push is OK (but not so violent and energetic) and she’s redirecting OK (especially after she’s seen cat or other dogs) and her tug is also OK (not after she’s seen cat and other dogs though and I’m not forcing it – only sometimes I run back and forth to get her to bite the tug toy). I feel she’s ready for barking lessons – first lesson was a fiasco, she didin’t understand what I wanted with her. I’ll have to try some more. In the meantime when she’s scared and starts barking in the house I started doing the EYES – is that OK?

    I also feel she’s ready for some serious boxwork (a bench and a stone step in a nearby park) – it is a bit vague for me, I’ve been trying it for a couple of months now but I cannot keep her energy up, when she gets on the bench she kind of loses interest, ears are back and it’s like she does what she I want her to do just to please me, no drive/fluidity at all. I keep her hopping on and off but it’s not working. I am a bit uncertain so it may be part of the problem. I’ve looked again at your videos and decided to try with something similar to your work with D. Martels’ dog, no box for start – to keep her energy high, and then to start at the higher position. Do you have some more suggestions?

    Also recently (I have been working a bit more with her and we have stopped reprimending her for barking in the house or for showing any energy whatsoever) and – she has lunged 3 times in one week (2 times while leashed, once while offlead) with teeth to bigger, male older dogs (before it was only smaller and histerical female dogs) – I decided not to let her meet dogs while leashed in frontal manner for a some time (few weeks or so) – am I correct? In the mean time to work on the box.

    Also when we walk in a group (my husband, my 4-yrold daughter and I) she’s totaly crazy, pulls like crazy, unsettled, totally oblivious to everything – she doesn’t want to tug/barely get her to push and wants to be in front of everybody, whines if 2 of them go a bit further. I tried runnung back and forth and puhing and massaging – it helped a bit. What do I do?

    When we’re in the forest she is unleashed. Sometimes she’s close, most of the time she’s not (especially when my daughter is with us). Lately she’s been coming to me for a tug-push sessions during our forrest walks (I see in her eyes that she’s in for it). Should I insist that she’s always close by by engaging into play with her or can I leave it like this?

    Given she’s still scared of men should we consider the scare-in-the-woods exercise as described on Neil’s blog?

    How does one greet a dog after coming back to the house? She always carries something, I tug a bit with it, give her a few massage strokes and that’s it. She doesn’t get much attention in the house.

    Actually I managed to formulate some of the questions theat were in my head and I hope I haven’t bored you much. I know that forum comments are supposed to be short and concise but I coudn’t formulate all this things without writing so much especially when English is not my mother tongue.

    I hope that everyone will excuse me and looking forward for your comments.


  6. kbehan says:

    Thanks for your interest in NDT and your kind words. It sounds like you could use a stronger foundation and I would recommend getting her hungrier so that pushing on the street becomes a powerful drive. First you can get her pushing as strongly as possible when nothing is going on in a quiet place and this will help it kick in when you’re on the street. Don’t feed the problem, hunger is the strongest internal motivator that turns defensiveness into a positive orientation. Also, when she’s pushing really strong, you can dangle a soft toy and push her off with that with a few prey-like flourishes to induce a bite. Generally, problem dogs are overly fixated on owners until missile-lock kicks in and so I don’t recommend the eye fixation technique at this point. The barking will do a lot to getting the bite out as well. However if she’s darting off to get her prey-making ya-yas satisfied on her own, that will leave you out of the loop. For the first ten minutes play hide ‘n seek and only give her free range after that charge has dissipated. If she continues to zoom off, you’ll have to keep her close. Finally, when she’s pulling you down the street that is a loading dynamic that is conditioning her to unload on whatever it is that triggers missile-lock. So that has to be resolved so that she walks alongside you in a state of suspension without building up a charge. Hope this helps and Keep On Pushing!

  7. Alwynne says:

    Hi Kevin:

    My friend got a lab puppy who it turns out eats gravel–$900 vet bill plus two hour drive from vacation destination to a major vet hospital and emergency hotel accommodations of $350 worth of gravel! I suggested playing tug of war with the puppy, which she had never done, although she said she keeps lots of chew toys lying around for it to play with. The puppy is crated during the day. Do you have any advice for this issue? Apparently, when the emergency occurred, the pup was eating gravel as she played fetch along the edges of a lake and my friend didn’t even realize it was happening until the pup got super sick–but now that my friend knows about the problem, she notices the pup eating gravel every chance it gets…


  8. kbehan says:

    I don’t know how old the pup is, but sounds like case of over-stimulation in that they are playing too much ball/fetch with her and so she has this amped up need to be in high gear and then this pressure of stimulation craves a bite object and so it ferrets out a stone as it digs in the earth for emotional grounding. They should do hide ‘n seek in the woods, tug of war into push of war as you’ve advised them, no play indoors etc.. Can’t be left untended unless in cement floor kennel, otherwise crated Will probably out grow it if they do these and allow time for pup to mature. Also would take up toys indoors and give real marrow bones for chewing, and it might prove fruitful to put it on a raw food diet.

  9. Alwynne says:

    Thanks Kevin! The puppy is 4 months old

  10. Ira says:

    Thank yo so much, now I know what to concentrate on. This morning was a bit better already, in the sense of her giving more energy to me (and me feeling more like I know what I’m doing). And she willingly gave her belly for a rub after a few seconds of massage, which always takes a lot longer. Also I found a calmer and less exciting place for pratice. Thanks

  11. Rosie says:

    So, is this similar with my dog? He has this habit sometimes (not every day) of bringing me items from my work case. He doesn’t chew them, just brings them to me, unless it’s a piece of paper. It is always when I am on the PC e-mailing, reading the internet etc, but not necessarily doing work on the PC. The key is me using the PC, I am focussed and my energy is there. So is it that there is so much energy being invested in the PC he is trying to ground? But why then is he drawn to other random work related objects?

    I know you’ve said before that dogs often chew the remote control because the owner invests so much energy in it. And so for example he does bring me my phone sometimes. But these items he brings me from my work bag, he often hasn’t seen me touch or use.

  12. kbehan says:

    Very interesting and the key will be what it all means to you. As a starting point, there is a degree of intensity to your focus on the PC and indeed, your dog is trying to ground this energy by objectifying the problem; i.e. trying to ground out the energy in him that is stimulated by the intensity of your focus. So the question is your “attachment” to these items from your work case. Is there something from work that is being deflected onto this PC activity? What’s the connection between work and this personal time? Ultimately, it is all one energy circuit in the way your emotion works so I would try to parse it apart from there. I’ve had several clients lose a valuable item on a hike and they get their dog excited about what they’re missing, and sure enough the dog backtracked and found it. There could easily be a telepathic, image thing going on, but there is also a specific intensity value that they are generating due to their attachment to that item and only that specific object can satisfy that degree of intensity and so the dog searches until that degree of intensity can be matched with a specific object. The dog picked up these values in everyday life, not just during that moment of excitation. Sometimes when I’m hauling wood on my tractor, a log falls off, or a glove or hat, and I get Hessian excited and point in the general direction. He immediately begins to search but it’s not that he has an object in mind, but rather he’s energized to the degree to which I’m stimulating him and then there is an object out of context in the woods and he pounces on it. So think of being on the computer as striving to connect emotionally with something, and your dog is completing that specific circuit.

  13. Milo says:

    Kevin in mid-September I contacted you regarding the reactions of off-lead dogs to our dogs who are on-lead and following your comments I thought I would see what other Siberian Husky owners found as, like myself, they walk their dogs on-lead.

    Here is the question and the answers they gave:

    What reaction do you get from off-lead dogs when you are walking your dog/s on lead?

    It totally ignores you and your dog/s 1 = 2%
    It shows a mild interest but does not investigate too closely 5 = 8%
    It shows a keen interest but is respectful to your dog/s 6 = 10%
    It is very interested in your dog/s but only shows playful intentions 12 = 20%
    It is extremely interested in your dog/s causing them anxiety 15 = 25%
    As you approach it it lowers its body and starts to stalk and approaches very slowly but with focused intention 6 = 10%
    It charges your dog/s with out warning from some distance away 15 = 25%

    Total votes : 60

    Any comments on the results of this poll? Is there any other question I could ask to further investigate this phenomenon of on-lead dogs winding up off-lead ones?

    I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    @ Castor – I know this is not a scientifically carried out poll.


  14. kbehan says:

    Question: To refresh the specifics of your question, are you talking about Siberian Huskies in general being walked that are provoking these responses, or are these folks walking their Sibes that they also sled with in harness?

  15. Milo says:

    Mostly Siberian Huskies in harness but on-lead usually attached to a walking belt, so no more than 6 to 10 feet in front of their owner. The reaction to a team of sibes in harness with a sled or dry-land rig is a whole different story!

  16. kbehan says:

    Okay, if my understanding is correct, then the answer is obvious. Emotion is about motion and this is the basis of animal consciousness, hence the balance/hunger continuum. (Dr. Wolpert in Cambridge goes so far to say that every aspect of neurology evolved in service to the problem of motion. Hunger is the feedback mechanism that imports the energy of motion, balance is the tuning mechanism that assays if the motion can be handled) These dogs represent a huge amount of contained motion, i.e. they’re holding back a huge surge of energy which is released in their work, and this contained energy unsettles many dogs when they see them. Since energy held back (represents intensity of acceleration) this triggers physical memories for these dogs past memories and activates the deeper layers of their batteries. In other words, the question is simple, can this dog hold such a dog (the sibe) in its grip and feel good about it, and the answer for these dogs is no and so you get a strong reaction. (This is also why whole males are attacked by neutered males.)

  17. Adam says:

    Why do dogs, according to Bradshaw, experience anxiety when being separated from humans that they don’t experience when separated from dogs? Also, how do you recommend to raise/train a dog so as to not experience this anxiety?

  18. kbehan says:

    I haven’t thought about that much, but I agree/disagree. Because the human in a dog/human equation is more likely to project need onto a dog than another dog will do, and because the human can be arbitrary and out of rhythm with the natural sequence of things whereas emotion is predominant in a dog’s behavior, and because the human opens doors, cans of dog food, drives car, talks on telephone and interact with strangers, there is much more charge with the human and so yes, the dog can become dependent on their owner when ATTENTION of the owner is its metric of connection. (BTW I have known dogs that become hysterical when separated from another dog). But the main point is that we’re talking about an emotional charge and trying to parse this syndrome apart without understanding how the charge works things won’t add up. So to prevent the problem, don’t raise a dog so that attention of owner is its metric of being connected. Be sure that its charge is working through the group/hunting dynamic.

  19. Adam says:

    Alright here’s a really interesting experiment I read about in Dog Sense. I’m directly quoting it from the book.

    “However, other research has shown not only that dogs can copy other dogs but also that they are selective and logical about what they copy. In one study, dogs between twelve months and twelve years old were trained to obtain food from a box that opened when a wooden handle was pulled down. Most dogs would naturally do this by grabbing the handle in their teeth and pulling it, but these particular dogs were trained to pull it down with their paws. Next, other dogs were allowed to watch the dogs performing their new trick….But some of the dogs started using their paws, as the demonstrator dogs had done, suggesting that they were copying the action itself.”

    “The experimenters added a twist to this test that seems to show why the dogs sometimes copied the action of the demonstrator. Each of the dogs who were demonstrating the handle-pawing action had been trained to hold a ball in their mouth while doing so. When actually demonstrating, they were sometimes given the ball to hold while at other times they weren’t. When the demonstrator was holding a ball, the other dogs often used their mouths; it was as though they were thinking “That dog is using its paws only because its mouth is full-I’ll use my mouth, it’s easier.” In contrast, when the demonstrator wasn’t holding a ball in its mouth, most of the observers used their paws, as if thinking “That dog is using its paw, not its mouth, so that must be the only way to get the food.” This experiment, if understood correctly, suggests that dogs are capable of quite sophisticated reasoning.”

    This interpretation actually makes me laugh. In the first quotation the reasoning provided requires imagination. As in…”if the demonstrator dog DID NOT have a ball in his/her mouth, he WOULD use his mouth…therefore, I’ll use my mouth.” If the dog is capable of imagining this sort of different scenario then he should be able to think in the second example…”Yeah, sure…this dog is using his paw, but using my mouth is much easier, I’ll do that instead.” But no…instead he goes from being incredibly imaginative, to incredibly unimaginative. Maybe I’m missing something but it seems like Bradshaw’s interpretation contradicts itself. Still the results are really interesting and I’d like to hear your interpretation.

  20. kbehan says:

    This is something I would need to see on video to come up with an interpretation. But I think you hit the nail on the head with the flaw in projecting thoughts into the dog’s behavior because you’re right, any manner of psychology could be applied. The first thing to say however is what kind of dogs were used for this experiment? It would have to be dogs that are very ball motivated, and then they would have to be trained and so whatever the pattern inculcated in training would in my view show up in these results. Basically, it occurs to me that the dogs are excited by the dog with the ball in its mouth, and so are prone to using their mouths. Then when the dog doesn’t have the ball in its mouth and is using its paws, this excites the dog to use its paws since it’s not aroused by the ball. It could be a straight transcription due to the mirror neuron phenomenon.

  21. Ira says:

    Hello again,

    I have to report progress in Ira’s energy. And I have some more questions. Ira has been showing a whole lot of energy lately, she has been doing very well with boxwork (she loves it) and she’s attacking ferrociously/strongly the tugg toy (I dangle it a bit and she goes totaly crazy), more than ever. During the walks her pushing is a bit more energetic as well. I don’t work with her 2xdaily, only in the evenings and most weekends she has morning and evening training session. I have to report that she’s more restless in the house (she’s always been so quiet in the house, mostly sleeping and lying down) but lately she totally wants stuff to do with us, brings her tug toys, barks more easily to passers outside our apartment (she hears them through the door). She’s evidently more excited around house (in the evening) and wants to go outside (I thought maybe our training sessions feel so good that her body needs a daily dose of it ;-)). Usually I go with her, have a training session, and a we go for a little walk. Previously she was very low key until I got dressed and asked her out. Also she started tearing paper towels (that fall on the floor) more often-she’s more mouthy in general.

    I am wondering if I’m doing something wrong, I kind of feel that I have awaken all this stagnant energy and now don’t channel it properly. When training we do tug, hidn’seek, box work, some heeling-it’s all around 15 min (I run out of food). I try to relax her as much as I can, in between these runnings-she sits very easily but I have to entice her for a belly rub with some food.

    The bark is still a bit of panicky, high pitched bark. Haven’t tried the scarying her part yet, I guess I am taking it very slow because any faster would be too fast for me-I have to get familiar with everything. Should I increase the pace a bit, is she telling me that. During our walks when we sees other dogs (another side of the street) she goes into down and after she pushes really hard-I still havent tried introductions yet. My husband said she has started to go into down also with him-they meet other dogs and everything goes well (almost always).

    Should I proceed like this or do I have to change something, maybe introduce a morning training session? Also I would be grateful for any other suggestions. Also for resolving loading dynamic during our walks (she doesn’t pull but she’s on the lookout I see it) – I run away in the opposite direction and we do a push and relax to a sitting position when she gets in that state – is that OK?

    Thanks a lot.

  22. kbehan says:

    Your pace sounds good. The next step is to get her to carry the bite object past the dogs, have it on a long rope so you can apply pressure as needed, or can whip it away if she loses her calm grip on it. You are using the toy to teach her how to be fully grounded and calm when stimulated by other dogs. This will calm the hyper-frenzy of shredding which is preventing her from evolving to the next level.

  23. Ira says:

    Thanks again. Hope I’ll be back with more good news in amonth or so.

  24. Adam says:

    So I just got this job as an apprentice instructor at a guide dogs organization, and we do something called “quiet work” with the dogs while they’re in the kennel. It’s just like it sounds…we try to teach them “quiet” through a combination of rewarding quiet, spray bottles, muzzle holds, tie downs, enrichment, and all sorts of variations on those methods. It’s not all that effective and definitely not preventitive. I was wondering whether teaching the individual dogs to speak for food might curb the behavior off cue. I’m thinking specifically of coming into the kennel in the morning (which rouses the dogs), and having them bark to get that energy out. Then hopefully this would sort of “empty the tank” i guess. Any thoughts on whether this would be effective or not?

  25. kbehan says:

    Yes. I believe that doing the core exercises, pushing/bite-carry/barking/suppling is calming because a dog most easily learns how to be still, by first learning when, where, what, how and why it should be active. Action-Leads-to-Satisfaction and satisfaction is the basis of calmness.

  26. christopher says:

    Hi Kevin,

    my most recent dog Koda was taught via NDT and she couldn’t be a more pleasant well adjusted dog. My question however is about a dog i know (2 yr shep mix male). This dog will push hard for food, bark on command, tug, is very people friendly and has many dog friends that he plays with. He will chase them and let himself be chased. Now…here is the flip side of Mr Hyde. on walks, he will lunge and growl at passing dogs, skateboarders, bikes and will really lose control at motorcycles that pass at a distance and will eat anything along the ground he comes across. NDT interests me so thats its driving me nuts wondering whats troubling this guy. What would you make of a dog like this? thanks for your input and for NDT, Koda and I are very grateful.

  27. kbehan says:

    Hi Chris, if I’m reading this right then this dog should only be fed when on such outings so that he learns to channel “the charge” into the push/bark/bite and carry. It sounds like he has a good foundation, now it’s time to channel the charge that’s triggered by these contexts. Thanks for checking in and Keep On Pushing!

  28. Adam says:

    Hey Kevin, I’m curious as to why there are dogs out there that DON’T push/bark/tug, and yet have not developed any maladaptive way of releasing stress and charge. Is this where Temperament comes in, and if so, could you go into detail about temperament with a capital T because I’m unclear in that area.

  29. kbehan says:

    Right, most dogs don’t develop severe behavioral problems, but they still could be doing push/bite/bark/supple to their benefit. There are so many things they do which aren’t problematic from the owner’s point of view, but which aren’t indicative of flow and then these quirks get attributed to the dog’s personality. So we see so many dogs hyper friendly, rushing up to every dog and not apprehending what that other dog is feeling, especially if its shy or reactive. There’s no faculty of discrimination. Then at the opposite end of the spectrum are vast amounts of dogs that are “flat-lined” and have no energy. There are a lot of “perfect” dogs that are unduly upset, but not to a high enough point to be called problematic, by vetting, thunderstorms, and odd occurrences and they don’t need to be this way. Then there is the innate resilience of Temperament and the emotional battery which is connecting the dots on its own and we the owner/trainer take credit for the dog filling in the answers we weren’t providing. In other words there are a lot of well adjusted dogs that are so, despite how they were raised and trained.

    Temperament turns stimulation (the perception of change) into information. It assigns energetic values to parameters of a situation, (high/low pressure–East/West/North/South-Midpoint) and then the central nervous system interprets these into instinctive/habitual frames of reference. In order for the animal to learn something new, the Central Nervous System must be held off until a new Midpoint of any particular context or stimulus is apprehended. (This can only happen during a state of emotional suspension.) So for example, a dog that is aggressive towards other dogs, is going by its form and is fixated on its eyes and accelerated by how much upward thrust (tension) is being carried in its forequarters. It doesn’t apprehend where its physical center of gravity is being carried so as to be able to synchronize with it. It just needs to bring it to ground which is why a “dominant” dog rides its chin over the other dogs shoulders and bears down. Whereas if it could apprehend the midpoint, it would be able to feel what the other dog is feeling and would then be able to “flip polarity” in order to complement what it is attracted to and eventually more and more energy would be invested as they come into synchronization. Temperament is an auto-tuning/feedback dynamic that resolves unresolved emotion through the principle of emotional conductivity (E–>UE–>RE) so as to make new energy.

  30. john says:

    i have a dog here who’s reactive towards our ponies, if i let him out at night he will run round to them and bark violently at them,
    i have been getting him to bark and push for food on the lead on the safe side of the fence from them but still in close proximity,
    i have a rough handle on what i’m doing , trying to get him to reference his gut in association with the ponies

    typically it goes something like this , take him out on long lead up to the fence, ponies will come over, the dog will remain relatively motionless but i know if either of their noses get close enough he will lunge and bite its all completely fear based, he finds it hard to bark at times and omits high pitched whining noises but if i keep him at it i do get a bark ,

    i’m trying to figure it all out from his point , if im reading this right,,the energy is stuck in the dog because of his fear of the ponies, he’s all in his head, but if i can get him to bark and push he will start to reference his gut and because the ponies will be in association with these acts and the feeling it generates in the dog he will start giving them credit for it and the fear will subside through association,

    more barking or pushing?,or playing tug in proximity to them?would that help also,
    thanks ,,

  31. kbehan says:

    First and foremost the ponies represent a big source of energy, and, a dog will always choose the flow of energy, if he can feel it. Now in this case, the ponies represent more energy than your dog’s body/mind can channel. Why is this so? Because the resistance value (what it would take to bring them to ground) triggers DIS (deep inner stress) which is that layer of physical memory held tightest to the p-og in the dog’s deep gut. When this latent energy moves, in your dog’s case it rushes up to the dog’s head (think of it as an iron ball that is pulled on by a powerful magnet) and these sensations overwhelm your dog’s capacity to feel. So the point of the pushing is connect the front with the back so that the dog begins to feel a certain rate of flow. But this flow is not yet strong enough to accommodate the rushing up to the surface of all the latent energy because his body immediately tightens when he feels his physical center of gravity begin to move forward (the physical memory of falling head first). The reason the dog is bristling in his muzzle is because of the gathering of intense sensations there, against which the dog is pushing energy out in order to brake his fall, when this doesn’t work, like an electrostatic pulse, the spark next leaps the gap and we see a reactive kind of bite (perfectly documented on the news anchor/doggo video). (This kind of electrostatic behavior is over and done with after a quick pulse, unlike Drive it is not steady state.) When the dog performs a good bark, he is projecting his p-cog into his owner (this loosens up the fixation on the horse) and the possibility now exists that dog and owner can generate a strong enough connection to channel the DIS layer into the stream of consciousness so that dog can experience FULL flow, which involves the built up charge and all. During this interplay, you can begin to soften your dog’s body with a lot of suppling and play biting of varying intensity in order to keep attracting the deepest layer (DIS), you may have to attract his “anger” to keep the body/mind as pipe open. Then you work in a bark, bite/carry, and a wholesale suppling. A soft body allows the dog to “flip and flop polarity” so that you can begin to play ping/pong with the charge and as you increase the intensity and frequency of the back and forth, the charge is being resolved and the horse becomes categorized as part of the FULL flow experience. So the dog doesn’t get electrostatic ally stuck in his head when the charge moves up into it, it can go back down, and up and down, and in this slow motion version, everything that happens feels good. You can see this is happening later when you see your dog approach the pony and he internalizes their charge (i.e. collects himself in his rear end) rather than being fixated in his head in the electrostatic mode. (Also, walk him near the ponies and be sure to let your dog eat some pony poop as this services emotional synchronization.) So by exercising his temperament this way, he is learning how to emotionally digest the charge of the pony by you being the ground, and with the ponies negatives of lesser intensity that fit within the wave form that you and the dog make when playing “ping/pong.”

  32. Sherilyn B. says:

    Our nine-month-old puppy Cody has aggression issues. Any time you put him in his indoor pen, he growls and tries to bite. We only put him in there at night and when we are not home. We have been doing this since we got him when he was 7 weeks old. He didn’t start the growling and biting when he is in his kennel until about a month ago. If you get near him when he is in his pen, he will growl and try to bite. He does the same thing if you try to take something away from him that he is not supposed to have. Someone could be gently petting him and he would be wagging his tail, then he may bite! His vet said he was going through adolescence and told us to get him neutered. We did and it did not help much. He just keeps getting worse. Having a dog like this is pretty scary when you have five kids from 2-15 years of age. We are afraid to have Cody around other people because he is unpredictable. We want to love our puppy, but it is hard when he often bites and draws blood.

  33. kbehan says:

    Has Cody ever been corrected for house training, jumping, mouthing, etc.?

  34. Has Cody been micro-chipped? And if so, when?


  35. Josh D says:

    Hi Kevin-

    Let me start by saying “thanks” for all of the information and help that you, Sang, Neil and Lee have given me directly or indirectly. It is really inspiring that you all act so selflessly to help people on a regular basis. I think NDT has opened up avenues both for my dog understanding as well as had a huge impact on my understanding of human nature. So…

    I have a question regarding crating that I am having a difficult time solving. Our 11 month old female Weim Zoey has separation anxiety when we leave her in the house (crated or not) or car but not in her crate at work. We do have a very mellow 10 year old male Weim who is loose in the house. Zoey has been going through the NDT regimen – she pushes well, heels well (for food), settles on a box well, and is getting pretty good with stay, although I can only disappear behind a tree for a few seconds during down stay on the box. I have started using light shocks on her collar to increase her drive during heeling and down/stay with good results. She does pull quite a bit on leash but I have been using some of the NDT book techniques and that is improving as well. She generally gets trained at feeding times 2x a day.

    Is it okay to let her freak out in the crate while we’re gone? I would have thought that her efficiency mechanism would have kicked in by now… This has been going on for some time – I unfortunately started her off with the Monk’s advice… I am trying to start a new regimen of crating her when she’s in the house but it’s hard when she’s so good when we’re around. I do let her choose to get in the crate at home before we leave, give her a bone treat etc, play tug outside before and after, but by the time we get home she has destroyed her bedding, occasionally has broken out of the crate and wrecked quite a few things in the house.

    Some negative experiences in her past: She was scared to the point of voiding her anal glands 3 times when she was very young (not in the crate). She has been reactive towards kids and squeaky voiced adults after being teased by kids in her crate at work but we seem to be getting a handle on that as her emotional capacity increases (and she’s fine in the work crate even left alone for a few hours).

    Do I need to ramp her up with short durations in the crate at home? Right now she sleeps in a sectioned off hallway with the older dog in open beds. She doesn’t cause any damage or soiling over night. Why is this an issue in one place and not the other? We do frequently have people over to the house. She’s fine greeting them and rarely barks.

    Thanks in advance (and sorry for the long post)!!


  36. kbehan says:

    Hi Josh, glad you’re able to apply this information to help your dog. Basically there are two types of dogs, “exploders” and “imploders.” The real friendly dogs tend to be implosive rather than explosive, the latter typifying the more aggressive dogs. I should also add that it feels better to explode than to implode and so when a friendly dog hits its overload capacity, if it doesn’t feel safe it implodes, but if it feels safe, (as when confined in a crate or loose in the house when no one is home) it would prefer to explode. What I’m saying is that the crate anxiety and shredding things in the house is your dog’s definition of exploding and the problem is that it is coming out in an incoherent, frenzied kind of manner. (This is why the efficiency factor isn’t kicking in because all she’s seeking at the moment is relief from stress, the feeling of a coherent discharge of energy that is highly efficient is foreign to her, i.e. she doesn’t know what it feels like.) For example, a very aggressive dog is exploding in a relatively speaking coherent manner, i.e. it’s manifesting a focused drive toward a specific object. These dogs are always very calm when left alone in the house and nothing is going on. So what you have to do is attract your dog’s focused energy in an aggressive expression of more and more intensity, and more and more coherency, so that eventually she doesn’t need the anxiety/destructive episodes in order to download her emotional battery when it reaches saturation, i.e. maximum charge. As she becomes aggressively coherent, which means strong drive as opposed to being anti-social, becoming anxious won’t feel as good as aggressively working to overcome resistance because due to the latter, she’s now going to have the feeling of release to compare and contrast with the “feeling” of relief (which are really just sensations). Also, do not try to make the crate a positive experience as that is merely feeding the anxiety. You’re going to have to put her into an indestructible crate so that she can’t experience any movement when she probes its resistance. Getting out of the crate is her definition of fighting back, whereas being friendly is a state of implosion. It’s adaptive to a point, but it is merely a coping mechanism, it cannot channel much energy.

  37. Josh D says:

    That makes sense to me although I’m not sure if she really falls into the “friendly” camp so much. She has had some more aggressive tendencies nipping at kids/adults when she is scared, and/or barking which seems like more of an explosion than implosion, but it could just be the way I’m reading the semantics.

    I had a thought along the differences in behavior between the two different crates. At work, she is crated in between going outside for pushing or tug-of-war. So it’s either inside in crate or outside purpose/focus. At home she has the run of the house when we are home, is let out sometimes to tug (focused) sometimes to run around with our other dog (no focus) and is now only crated when we leave. I’m wondering if her ability to overcome the resistance isn’t building because she doesn’t know what’s coming (focused bite in the work crate scenario). In other words I think I need to be more consistent crating her in between play/tug/push sessions like I do at work. Does this sound like it has any validity?



  38. kbehan says:

    You’re right, aggression is an explosion, it’s not a matter of semantics. However if we drilled down a little deeper, it would probably be more specific to say that your dog is reactive/aggressive as opposed to active/aggressive, and is also quite precise on picking out the vulnerable individual, (kids) and so could still fall under the umbrella of an “imploder.” (Especially given the fact that she was teased by children as I believe you indicated earlier so there is an input–output correlation. Also, the anal gland discharge is a tell tale implosion.) The thing about work is that the attention isn’t on her, everyone’s subliminal focus is on their work, whereas at home the dog is more the center of at-tension, thus the tension factor at home is much higher than at work. What you need to do is give her release from tension by particular intense bite work outdoors. Then she will feel repleted when you put her back in her crate. Also, will she bark coherently for you when there are children distracting her?

  39. Josh D says:

    I’d say reactive/aggressive is spot on although the pushing has helped a lot. I play tug of war with her, but I have a hard time incorporating it with her pushing/heeling/settle/box routine. Is there other bitework I should be doing? To really get her going I have to stalk her. At this point she usually comes right after me when I stalk her (moreso in our yard than in unfamiliar settings) and attacks the rope tug I use like mad. Not so much flailing or growling, but really determined to bite it. I still can’t quite get her to push for the tug toy… I really can’t seem to get the posting bitework down although if I post her and then release her she usually is very willing to bite. Not so much if she’s still posted.

    I haven’t tried to get her to bark when she’s distracted by children. Often times she does a nervous bark in her crate at work when children approach her area (she can’t see them as she’s behind a counter in a cubby). I’ll try. She definitely barks when I crouch way down and draw back my food hand when she’s waiting for the push… I assume this is good as it’s getting the energy up to the surface?



  40. Nick says:

    Hi Kevin

    Just want to say that I found your site last week purely by accident and the ideas and beliefs behind the techniques instantly resonated with me. I am from New Zealand by the way and I have talked to a few dog owners who are aware of your writings etc.

    My dog is a 20 month old husky lab cross. Provided he has his two walks for the day he is generally well behaved and pretty good at coming when called etc. However if he sees a duck or rabbit at the dog park he is off however and I struggle to get him back. I have the following queries that I would appreciate your opinion on.

    1. I have been attempting the techniques you and Neil describe. I have been doing some pushing with him and he loves it and is incredibly strong, his food drive is very high. The first two days I did the pushing etc in the park and he was very relaxed afterward. The next nights I did it in the back yard and he would not settle afterward. It took me a very long time to relax him….our back yard is not very big if that means anything.

    2. In terms of the other techniques he is not really interested in tug although he will play for a bit at some point. He is more interested at chasing me when I kick a small ball around which gets his focus and he will chase me for a while…..just as good? He is also good at fetching. Is there anyway I can make tug more attractive?

    3. Any other techniques I should be using? I play hide and seek at the dog park and he responds incredibly well.

    4. Like I said for the most part he behavior is positive. At night times he will sometimes hang at the door (open or closed) and bark (high pitched) until we come outside. Do I need to discharge his energy every time he does this??

    Thanks for your time Kevin. I appreciate you are a busy man so just when you have a sec I wouldn’t mind your opinion on the above.



  41. kbehan says:

    Thanks Nick for your interest in NDT. It’s important to increase the degree of resistance he will tug for, kicking the ball is too much “mousing” and you have to upgrade to “Moose-ing” so that the dog will be willing to tug no-matter-what. Put the ball on a string and give it a little motion and then whip it around to increase interest, and then carefully tug (progressively harder) so as to build dog’s drive over time. Eventually put ball in a sock and attach rope, and ultimately, work your way to a hard, bite object. Very important also to teach a strong, deep bark. Finally, barking for your attention you can’t reward so don’t go outdoors to discharge. This should happen in a different context. Hope this helps, Keep On Pushing!.

  42. kbehan says:

    Basically and paradoxically, she’s tuning you out when she goes for the toy (prey instinct) and you need to work in push for food, and then speak, with very vigorous body contacting during push/food in between giving her bites (on the post). This way she’s letting you into the prey instinct, thus, converting it to prey drive. You’re turning her reactive/aggression into active/aggression. This is the same impasse that compels her to bark at kids, she can’t tune them out as easily as adults because they are more spontaneous and more likely to be drawn to her, not to mention heads closer to her head.

  43. Josh D says:

    Today I tried to include the bite in a posted push routine. She really was struggling against the lead to get to the food during the push and barking on command, but when I had her hup! and then tried to reward her with the tug, or teased her with it she completely disengaged and went into scrounging for dropped food mode. As soon as she went into this individual hunting mode (grass chewing etc) I’d run away which eventually would get her attention at which point I’d stalk and then let her “push me around” by vibrating and moving sideways when she focused intensely on me. Still no bite! Any recommendations? Phone consult?

    Thanks again,


  44. Nick says:

    Thanks for your prompt reply and advice Kevin.

    I have your book on the way btw so sorry if I am asking the obvious.

    Can you elaborate on your answer e.g what is mousing?

    Is there any reason why my dog would be so unsettled after pushing in the back yard as opposed to in an open space?

    What do I do when he barks at the door to get my attention? Usually I tell him to lay down and if he’s quiet I reward him with food after a minute, then after 2 mins, 5 mins and eventually he settles.

    Could you give me a training routine to follow being new to this and all and keeping in mind he is not really into tug?

    Thanks for your time,


  45. Nick says:

    One more point Kevin,

    I put one of his chew toys on some rope and he loved it, chased it round and round and played tug with it, Presume getting him to chase the toy is and allowing him to catch is in line with your teachings?

    After we finished our play he was again incredibly stimulated after this and was hard to settle down, once he did he was stuffed though. Is there any way i should end the play session…can you elaborate on this?

  46. kbehan says:

    The back yard must hold an especially intense emotional charge so that when you do pushing out there, you are allowing the physical memory of same to find release and it comes up to the surface. Maybe he has been over stimulated in play out there, or chasing squirrels, or agitation at neighborhood activities.
    Also, don’t reward with food when he settles into the down as you are adding energy to a system that is at rest, and which is self-rewarding in and of itself, especially given that over the course of time, these acts of denial ultimately lead energetically to the bite, thereby increasing how much weight he accords them to getting to what he really wants. This is where reinforcement theory gets in the way of learning. When you work in Drive, the flow of energy without regard to material consequence, is the primary motive. Rewarding calmness is counterproductive and knocks the animal out of the rhythm by which his emotional energy works naturally.
    Finally, put the ball in a sock so that you can upgrade its “emotional mass” and slowly increase the amount of resistance he can overcome to take it to “ground.” Your number one training objective is getting your dog to want to bite the hard, heavy bite object, no-matter-what. Heel, sit, down, stay, recall then follow naturally.

  47. Josh D says:

    Hi Kevin-

    I started trying a new technique (for me) to get Zoey to settle in her crate. I put the crate up on a block (inside) in it’s normal spot otherwise and basically did my box routine with her. I’d push first, do a little heel work and then “in the crate!” followed by whisk/zing until she settled. My question is this:

    I know pushing and “drive” based learning is best done outside but is it okay in this case? She definitely had a harder time settling in her crate than she does on the box and could barely stand me disappearing behind anything… I’d say the crate holds quite a charge!



    PS still struggling with the bite work interspersed with pushing but I did get just a little the other day…

  48. kbehan says:

    That sounds okay and good management approach, but the thing to remember is how much energy/attention is being invested in her crate behavior, and that can tend to make it stronger despite remediation. To avoid that, one can best solve problems by focusing on its complementary expression, rather than directly on the problem. So for example, if you were to post her up and walk away does she constantly bark and of course, if so, such a bark will invariably arise from high in the body/mind rather than being deep and metered. At any rate if this is so, getting the bark/bite out here will solve the crate problem. And to do so, you will have to get more intense pushing from her on the post.

  49. Josh D says:

    You are correct – if I post her she does do the high head bark eventually after I get 50+ feet or after a few minutes. She also cries when she gets frustrated. I’m a bit confused how I should react when she starts barking. I assume I don’t want to be reinforcing this… I do bark work with pushing usually off lead/post currently.

    How do I get the bark/bite out in the posted situation you mention? Should I post her/ignore her and as soon as she’s fixated on me/settles vibrate/move sideways/ let her draw me in for push/bark/(I wish I could get…)bite?

    For the sake of discussion, how does one determine the complimentary expression in a given situation?


  50. kbehan says:

    Just to stay on track, the panic is due to the dog feeling out-of-control in that she projects into you, but doesn’t feel grounded, and hence the panic since she can’t will you to act in a way that she defines as settled. If she were a child, she would be angry at you because of this loss of control. So what you need to do is get her “angry” at you on the post. Energetically what this means is that she is letting go of her panic in favor of “anger” and this is an externalization of energy that is easier to resolve because she will feel more in control of what she’s experiencing. Panic on the other hand is internalizing more than she can externalize. Once she begins to become actively aggressive, she will start to feel free. I hesitate to recommend this because it takes a fine touch so go slow, but you can maw her with your hand as if it is your jaw, and tweak her enough somewhere so that she starts to get aggressive toward you. Then you have to channel this into the bite object and gradually intensify it so that she’ll growl on the bite and guard it against you. You’re turning her panic into self-control via the aggressive/assertiveness. All the while you intersperse push and bark and soft suppling rub-a-dubs so that her aggressive energy is more and more coherent, and she can remain flexible even when charged.

Leave a Reply

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.
%d bloggers like this: