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. Josh D says:

    Yes! I’m starting to get to the bite! Thanks for not being too cautious with your recommendations. Fortunately I’m not the litigious type anyway… only a little skinned knuckle anyway…

    I’m not sure if this will have to build for a while until she can really release but she’s starting to jump up on me and mouth the bite toy – right now I’m using a knotted rope. She did fully latch on a couple times, the rest of the time she was just mouthing. Prior she would just completely avoid so I went ballistic mawing her neck and kidney area, grabbing her feet and stalking. Now we’re getting somewhere!

    One question, should I praise the mouthing, or just stay after her with my mock aggression?

    Thanks for being so open with your techniques and knowledge Kevin!



  2. kbehan says:

    Good job, yes be sure to let her know with praise that she’s safe about using her jaws, if she will open her mouth, she is opening her mind: then you can use finesse to build your intensity, interspersed with the bark and push to keep her energy flowing and focused. Keep On Pushing!

  3. john says:

    What are your thoughts on canines killing to excess, a situation which only seem to arise in unnatural setting for a canine predator like a wolf in a sheep pen or something similar,
    is it that the drive to catch is just been stimulated over and over through the movement of the sheep in the enclosed pen and the fact that there is no great emotional outlay on behalf of the predator and he still has plenty of energy to give , whereas with an animal in the wild the emotional task is so much bigger, thanks,

  4. kbehan says:

    That’s an interesting question which I believe gives us insight to the distinction between prey instinct and prey drive. The former is a load/overload energy type of transfer and so it is reflexive and impulse driven, no capacity of the individual to be able to control itself. And so when a predator such as a dog or wolf finds itself in an enclosed space with the prey moving back and forth so intensely, there’s an instant load and then a just as sudden unload and the wolf or dog kills every chicken in the coop or sheep in the paddock. Motion equals immediate bite because in the predator’s mind under the prey instinct, output must always equal input. 200 volts of stimulation needs an instant 200 volts of grounding to return the system to neutral, and since the oral impulse is the strongest avenue of emotional grounding, we observe the instant and repetitive prey-making cycle. Whereas Prey Drive is more discriminating and the drive to be in harmony, i.e. all members synchronizing as a group, allows the individuals to be able to resist the immediate-impulse to use it s jaws as it is orienting from another aspect of its anatomy, it’s aware of its whole body by virtue of being in a state of sync, and hence emotional suspension, with all the other living beings within that situation. There isn’t the output has to equal input problem, the individual can enjoy a prolonged feeling of weightlessness (i.e. resonance with their surroundings) and the prey-making cycle is prolonged and the predator’s capacity to perceive the emotional midpoint of the entire herd as leveraged by what his peers are doing, becomes the predominant focus of its awareness. In prey instinct, the predator fixates on one particular prey animal.

  5. Josh D says:

    Hi Kevin-

    Zoey’s posting seems to be going well and I do notice her being a bit more assertive. I do have a couple more questions that I can’t seem to find videos/explanations of:

    Can you explain what posting does? I understand the bite work/pushing components and how she feels release/control from doing them/struggling against the tether, but I don’t entirely get what the post is making her feel when I walk away. Is it resistance/loss of control that is then resolved when I return? How do her vocalizations factor into her sense of control?

    When I walk away she typically doesn’t protest until I get out of sight and then she starts barking – I think it is coming more from her gut than it was before but it is still heady at times. Should I not react to any of it? In most of your clips I seem to recall dogs barking on posts (mostly from the gut).

    Perhaps I should post a video, but my routine is:

    post her, push a couple times, walk away (usually around the house with her barking as soon as I get out of site – but not constant), return for bite (with a tweak if necessary to get her going), followed by a bark and more pushes – repeat

    Should I do this every morning? It usually lasts around 20 minutes or so. Occasionally I’ll intersperse box work after with heel/settle.

    “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.”

    Lastly, I am not sure I understand the “intensify it so that she’ll growl on the bite and guard it against you” part. Do you mean get to the point of intensity that she’ll growl as she tugs?

    Thanks as always for your time!


  6. kbehan says:

    When you post a dog you make it easier for them to focus their energy since 1) the owner isn’t standing behind them while they’re trying to look forward 2) The post isn’t moving so they don’t have to change a frame of reference (via balance) as the ground they’re standing on remains the same. 4) They are not physically connected to their owner which invokes all physical memories thereof. Therefore all their energy can be focused on the object of attraction and their sense of their body state remains a constant.
    When your dog bites well, then you need to increase the intensity of your resistance and movements, can allow for her fear to crystallize into an active form (growling) that can more readily be resolved (as opposed to a latent state of panic, the vibration of which is friendliness. So growling on the tug is good as a way of getting panic to the surface, and then guarding the object so that she can’t be knocked out of drive by high rates of change (such as when you leave her behind). Intermittently during the sessions work on drive, push/bark, and supple, rub-a-dub so that the entire frame of reference becomes so magnetic it can handle any voltage of electrical stimulation (i.e. the perception of change and resistance.)

  7. Josh D says:


    A couple of questions as things progress with Zoey’s bite work:

    Z is now biting pretty well – she seems to be discharging through the bite when something triggers her occasionally (usually prey – i.e. squirrels/birds/neighbors) although she’s more looking for pushing for food. I also seem to have trained her to expect a push after she has tugged for a bit and won. How can I transition her to guarding the bite toy and then transition her to push-of-war instead of for food? Have I not made the bite toy sacred enough? We usually play tug a few times a day for 5-10 minutes.

    Secondly, she is barking on command well, but also when she feels like she’s stuck. For instance, when we’re making dinner, she finds a place to lie down and then fixates on us & barks or jumps on the door to go out, only to want to come in again. I assume the food smells are charging her up as she seems to be very driven by food. I don’t want to discourage the barking, but I want to discourage the barking at the wrong times. Should I push in these situations, or remove her from the kitchen?

    Thanks in advance,


  8. kbehan says:

    We can’t get too deep into the weeds on such a forum here, for the incremental steps of fine tuning you really need one-on-one work. However, the philosophy of the method is that once you get a bark/bite/push/rub-a-dub No-Matter-What, you are then in position to shape this into traditional obedience routines and then use these for example, to teach your dog to be quiet in the kitchen or wherever she is in conflict. So until you’re sure your dog is ready for that, probably best to remove her from kitchen and then later when you have a down/stay No-Matter-What; you can use that to teach “Quiet” when barking isn’t appropriate. When a dog uses a newly acquired response in service to an annoying behavior, this is an old fault line coming to the surface, reflecting an original error in development. So as long as you’re not “feeding” the old pattern, you can postpone by simply avoiding the problem until the dog is at their peak of development.

  9. john says:

    Now that The Dog Whisperer has finally been given the boot, i think its time for the Dog Interpreter to finally come out of the shadows and show the world what dogs are really all about,, any takers out there??

  10. john says:

    In reference to Scott’s blog which is great reading,keep it up Scott, the question asked Why do things happens?? from the dog prospective ,
    is it not how the dog feels inside is what it feels makes things happen ? thanks,,

  11. kbehan says:

    Yes, the dog feels that how it focuses energy internally, is what “causes” external things to happen. I put cause in quotes because it’s the exact opposite of an understanding of causation, which is the application of Time to a sequence of events. Feelings are how associations are formed in a dog’s mind by way of a subliminal beam of attention in conjunction with the hunger circuitry fusing the external objects of attraction onto the internal center-of-gravity. This is also why very young children believe in magic and blame themselves when bad things happen. They feel their internal state is what “caused” the external event. I think another echo of this in our adult minds is the fact that we think it matters to how things play out as to what team we might choose to root for. Of course, maybe dogs and very young children know something we’ve forgot, nature does work by magic and so, where there’s a Will, there turns out to be a way.

  12. john says:

    With reference again to Scott’s blog and his writings on the paths of resistance have some dogs not been bred to take instruction from man and therefore have an ability to hold their owner in their term of reference while in drive much like pastoral breeds, gun dogs and most of the service dogs all of which have a history of man as been their avenue to flow or drive without much prompting

    Unlike a lot of sighthounds, weight pulling like the huskies or pack animals like the foxhounds etc who have no history of taking instruction while in drive and in most cases are actually running away from man while in drive

    , what i’m saying is what may work for the first group relatively easily because its in their nature to take instruction and their breeding to see man as access to flow, so a negative can be construed as a positive if it ultimately leads to flow, but the same instruction or correction can be felt as purely a negative and gets taken personally with no history of the breed as having man as access to flow, so the correction stands on its own,
    It also seems to be the reason why so dogs are seen as intelligent and bright while others are referred to as unresponsive or dim, the reason been they have not being bred to include man as their access to drive or flow and nothing to do with intelligence as such,

    I think what im trying to say is, certain breeds will respond to ndt relativity easily who inherently hold man in their reference, while other owners will struggle to manifest the same sort of response from a completely different canine, thanks

  13. kbehan says:

    Yes, the capacity to hold the human (path of highest resistance) in a frame of reference with the prey, is heightened in certain breeds. Taking direction is actually a function of “magnetic deflection” and if the dog was selected to kill the prey on its own, then when “charged” by the prey, this dog won’t be easy to channel in a new direction (sighthounds, terriers, etc.). If on the other hand they were selected to stay in the flow longer and longer, herding breeds for example, they prove easiest to re-channel. So for example, even though a pit bull could easily overpower a German shepherd and would normally be characterized as having a higher or stronger drive, in point of fact they have a lower emotional capacity because they hit the collapse into an instinctive reflex threshold much sooner, and again, this is all about how the breed was selected to assist in some aspect of hunting. You could also say that breeds of dogs vary by how they characterize a “moment” i.e. a shift in a frame of reference. For a well bred and well trained herding dog, they can sustain a uniform state of pressure for hours and this constitutes one emotional cycle of load and release. At the other end of the spectrum are the sporting breeds that equate human with access to the flow, and in the hunt the human does the killing. So we see that this dog has a very low prey threshold in that it can perceive something “positive” (i.e. prey-like) in humans, and so the human’s predatory aspect equals access to their preyful aspect, this by the same token has the equal/opposite effect of magnifying its inhibition to the predatory aspect of the prey, and hence we can get a paralyzed point, and a soft mouth. So these breeds make for the best family pets given the usual protocols of handling and raising, but they tend toward hyper-stimulation and internalized stress reactions that come out as exaggerated displays of personality. Annoying but less legal liability.
    I also want to emphasize that man didn’t specifically select the various breeds to “take direction” per se but rather, inadvertently tapped into the prey drive of wolves according to the above template I’ve outlined because of a mutually compatible evolution as hunters of large game. Therefore I would argue that understanding these equal/opposite thresholds, make NDT most suitable for all breeds. As long as a dog a set of canine teeth in its dentition, then it has the prey instinct as well and it proves most effective to develop its prey instinct into a prey drive as the basis for its relationship with its human.

  14. Joanne Frame says:

    With reference to discussion on discussion on hounds & huskies versus gundogs and herding dogs etc I can understand John’s point and Kevins. I have a labrador and two hounds – I have got stuck into NDT again just recently and am concentrating on one (the lab), to keep it simple. It makes it easier to understand the concepts, particularily with the help I am getting from Sang but it has made me understand more about my dogs’ behaviours. I believe hounds are deemed ‘difficult to train’ in part because of the training techniques used traditionally. I can see, and experience that they have a lower emotional capacity, very quick to lose concentration on me (or quick to be nervous about what we are tring to do together) but I am seeing results of a sort! Will report back on progress!

  15. john says:

    with reference to question 6 on the old ndt site about a dog who constantly fights with a dog he lives with, gets a spanking and eventually restarts a fight, which i would think is triggered off in times of high excitement,

    my question is how would you manage them on a day to day basis, keep them apart and work them individually? and what in particular helps should you work on both or just the one who starts the fight, thanks

  16. kbehan says:

    In the beginning they need to be separate so that things can’t get worse, and this then makes more energy available for each to be worked individually. When they get as strong as they can with the core exercises, then they can both be posted near each other and triggered in some way so that this energy can be channeled into the core exercises. In the meantime they can be walked together on trails etc with two handlers so that they can begin to smell and reintegrate in the calmest and most naturally conductive of circumstances. In my experience, the older dog is almost always causal even if it never starts the fights so it’s going to need work as well. Then they can learn to fight to get up on rocks/boxes/tables together and also hot weather work ending up at a wading pool/stream.

  17. john says:

    A friend of mine was recently asking what to do with a pup roughly 5 months old who has snapped at his wife a few times in the house, the pup seems to be particularly effected and possessive around food would hand feeding by his wife and pushing help with this problem, thanks,

  18. kbehan says:

    The pup might be sensitive, and/or has been corrected and now the food becomes the opportunity to release stuck energy. So they probably have to rethink the whole paradigm, but pushing over food bowl, working slowly up to that, would be one good thing to do.

  19. Joanne Frame says:

    Why do dogs lick inanimate objects? I’m sorry if this is already up on the site but I haven’t been able to find it. I belong to a trailhound group on Facebook and it appears that this is a common trait amongst trailhounds. My trailhound Logan will lick the edge of doors, carpets and sofas. I took it as a sign of stress, wanting movement but not confident to actually lick the object of attraction? Or is that total garbage 🙂 The other trailhound owners talked about similar and also the inside of car windows during a car journey.

    Logan recently has tentatively licked my hand once or twice, just quickly, and I took that as progress in getting more confident towards me. Am I on the right track

  20. kbehan says:

    I have noticed that with the houndy kind of bird dogs and it strikes me as self-soothing behavior. An OCD kind of inhibited ingestive reflex that seems indicative of a stressed reaction. In other words things aren’t moving fast enough, the dogs have a chronic low level state of arousal, a blocked sensuality, and there’s nothing to grip and so licking is a displacement behavior. It may be prevalent in hounds because they can pack so close together in the hunt because of an infantile-like state of sensual arousal.

  21. john says:

    just to clarify , does a pup need to be socialized by a certain age
    , in other words if you bring up a pup in a positive manner, can it deal with the big bad world without having an introducing to dogs in particular earlier in its life or can its positive outlook see it through, thanks

  22. kbehan says:

    If a dog is raised gently, and kept out of conflicted situations, taken for long walks in woods, and so develops a strong, healthy emotional bond with its owner, it doesn’t need much socialization with kids, people or other dogs to be emotionally adaptable. It’s like a child with a strong family foundation, that then serves as a template for mastering society at large and coping with challenges from an inner resilience. That’s the most important thing.

  23. john says:

    following on from that Kevin, at what age would you start introducing interaction as a way of resolving energy, i can understand this will vary between breeds , should you look for a behavior from the dog ,i know to much stimulation too young is not ideal but some driven canines will start showing interest in sights and smells which could possibly lead to negative associations, thanks

  24. kbehan says:

    It does depend on maturity, and just letting a puppy be a puppy if the situation is benign, and then how much interference you have to deal with in day to day living, for example living in the busy city versus quiet countryside. Just don’t want to be too intense in training with the young dog. Overstimulation is a stress in its own right. That said, it’s better for a young pup to learn how to work than be in a state of conflict, so use that at a standard for when you have to really get going. Playmates are great as long as the play is equal and opposite for both pups and one isn’t getting manic or overloaded. When in doubt, go slower.

  25. john says:

    whats the main difference between a dog who fear bites and a dog who attacks,

    im thinking in terms of an animal who snaps out of fear compared and a dog who attacks and savages, it is temperament in the latter, i know some dogs can become fixed on a target like a dog in drive, and maybe the former the fear biter is instinctive fear based,

    So is it drive in one versus instinct in the other ,thanks john

  26. kbehan says:

    A fear biter is reacting to the collapse of attraction, and is feeling pressured toward the offending trigger. After the sensations of collapse, which the dog perceives as a force of acceleration, the dog has less energy and so these bites are like a static electric discharge. Once the arc crosses the gap, there is no charge and we see the dog return to owner for “recharging.” (And which the owner misinterprets as contrition.) And yes these dogs are guided by instinct, and perhaps some deep seated habits. Whereas the dog with true fight drive wants to bring the p-cog of the target to ground and so will persist and is energized by whatever the “prey” might do. Also, it can take in new information in the moment and so can learn to hold back (as in hold at bay) and can bite very hard and let go on command very rapidly because it is always guided by “potential energy.” This has been skillfully exploited by a good trainer, even though they are not likely to put it in such terms. Hope this is clear.

  27. john says:

    can we then put all snapping like behavior in the same cataloge, when we include food into the equation and the reaction that arises where possessions are concerned, is it all from fear that’s what i’m trying to fathom

    even if we raise a pup in a positive fashion, can it still not have a reaction over possessions or food, a situation where no fear has been installed, can it be instinctive without the history of fear, thanks

  28. kbehan says:

    Yes, it’s all fear. Guarding food, toy, resting place are opportunities to vent what’s stuck in the battery, it’s not about the food, toy or resting place. It’s about the chance to purge fear from the body/mind. Fear and stress is also generic, as opposed to always due to trauma, because it’s the inevitable consequence of dealing with resistance. By syncing up and aligning with others, fear/stress is resolved. (facilitating alignment and syncopation is the real function of sexuality/sensuality) So in a bizarre way so to speak, dogs that guard things are trying to vent a charge, and then once relieved they are better able to align or sync. This is why they oscillate from one extreme of friendly, to the other of highly reactive. This is the basis of the Jekyll/Hyde myth.

  29. john says:

    what would the reasoning be behind a dog continually eating its own or other dog feces, or what would be the remedy to it , thanks

  30. kbehan says:

    Anything of the body is a preyful essence, i.e. an emotional ground. We think of a waste product as a waste product, but it actually represents a resolution of an internal struggle in regards to which organ gets this nutrient. For example, with newborns parents are very relieved when their babies are eliminating smoothly, it means that all the basic plumbing is working and so parents are really attracted to such events. So as a statement of resolution, it offers a platform for dogs to emotionally synchronize with each other and so this is the adaptive purpose as to why dogs are attracted to the eliminations of other dogs. It also shows us that the peristaltic wave action of the intestines is the basis of a good feeling, i.e. the laminar transfer of nerve energy from BB to lb, and so the dog’s mind doesn’t make a distinction between an external stimulus and the internal feeling. In other words, movement is movement. Because the dog doesn’t make a distinction between the outside and its insides, he is compelled to find an object-of-attraction when it experiences a strong intestinal movement and so it investigates its own poop, the feces becomes the object that “moved” it. This is the same template between the dam and her newborn pups, they become the object of the strong contractions, she attributes to them this force and this motivates her to succor them. She associates their struggle with her own struggle, and calming them by nursing quells the reverberations from the overwhelming natal pangs she experienced.
    As for remedies it’s possible that raw food and bones to chew on might help, there’s probably a lot of natural remedies on line, (in the old days we used Adolph’s meat tenderizer, garlic and brewer’s yeast, I can’t vouch for the statistical improvement); the dog could be socializing with other dogs with the habit and picking it up osmotically, the dog could have worms but you’ve probably already eliminated that possibility, and sometimes getting the dog to bite and bark it goes down. But other than parasites it’s not really a problem other than to our human sensitivities.

  31. john says:

    following on from the external stimulus and internal feeling, does the reasoning from C Milan hold up in so much as the dog must be calm before we do anything with it, in other words the dog making itself calm to achieve a goal or an action ,

    another point im trying to fathom is when we let a dog out , is he in tension and is that tension motivating all his actions, im trying to understand what comes first the feeling of tension or the stimulus, a dog will cock his leg at a large bush or rock even when he is empty , what draws a dog to a stimulus, is it that he wants to cause a feeling within himself or he wants to relieve something within himself ? thanks

  32. kbehan says:

    Yes there’s a lot of merit to what Cesar says. Whatever state the dog is in when something happens, is what the dog gives credit for why what happened happened. But a lot of what Cesar interprets as calmness is a flat line response, and then when we ask the dog to go beyond itself, the dog won’t have the necessary capacity. So he goes too fast, he doesn’t prepare the dog by increasing its capacity before it gives it the problem. He seems to believe that being an overwhelming obstacle of resistance induces calmness. What that does do with many dogs is regress the dog to its puppy mind, so in the short term the dog might get soft. My point would then return to the question of capacity, does the dog now have the heart-as-a-muscle to hold onto a feeling of softness under an intense situation. I don’t think so.
    To your second question, the dog is always in a state of tension, the release from which constitutes an emotional ground, or preyful aspect. The form of the bush or other obstacle, triggers physical memory and so the dog projects some memory of resistance onto the bush or object, and then relates to it accordingly. So if a dog lifts its leg when empty, it’s aroused by the bush and feeling sexually energized, and so it lifts its leg to expose its sensual underside, while at the same time maintaining shoulder tension to maintain equilibrium. (although it wouldn’t next be incongruent to see the dog roll over and wallow on the ground.)

  33. john says:

    if a group of dogs become equal and opposite to each other is that a major reason why a dog will tune us out in situations where we try to arouse their interest in something if the relationship is not balanced,

  34. kbehan says:

    I’m not quite sure I get your question, but here’s my thinking. Because dogs can so easily become their equal and opposites so that they can maximize flow, and because we’re so sluggish about it, they can tend to tune us out because we’re too much resistance. The flow system created by their own interactions is so well configured but not in our direction. They still love us no matter what, but that doesn’t mean they can give us their energy when we really need it.

  35. john says:

    i’m at a loss trying to understand why only the alpha female breeds in a pack of wolves if supposedly the natural world is about spreading the genes of a species,

    taking that she has a direct and active temperament does that mean she is also the most physically imposing of the females and the most likely one to give future generations the strong and powerful characteristics needed, or is she of the right temperament which can stand on its own without been the largest female in the pack, what it boils down to is does size equal temperament in a wolf pack ,

  36. kbehan says:

    In my view the wolf pack is a flow system which optimizes its configuration in order to best fit into its environment and contribute to its improvement of flow as well. This flow mechanics is worked out by way of the emotional dynamic, and then the genes fix this configuration. So the wolf pack is like a sports team. The coach doesn’t necessarily want the best quarterback, he wants the best quarterback for his particular system. There are some amazing quarterbacks that can run like the wind and throw strikes far downfield, but they may not stay in the pocket long enough precisely because of their athletic gifts, and so the coach passes them over and looks for the athlete that best fits his philosophy of the game.

  37. john says:

    whats the best way too convert a gun shy bird dog, he was spooked by fireworks in the beginning and now runs to hide at the sight of a gun or any loud noise, thanks

  38. kbehan says:

    The first step is to get the dog to bark, push and bite, and then work the noise into this routine so that a sharp noise becomes integrated with the dog’s feeling of flow. Anything that is part of flow feels good and this will change the dog’s perception of a loud noise. Second, fear of a noise is the same as fear of predator and so dog weights the predatory aspect in a person or dog too much and the push, bark, bite helps reconcile that. It can also be helpful to objectify the noise predator into someone playing the role of scary stranger and build up the dog’s confidence in this regard.

  39. Skip Skipper says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I was reading through Natural Dog Training (book) again and came to the “Lets Play Ball” chapter. I was wondering if the ball is still used at all, such as leash training. Noticed that all of the service dogs (police, military) that I’ve seen trained lately use this method. Thanks!

  40. kbehan says:

    When I wrote the training section in the eighties, most people had soft dogs and we’re doing much play with their dogs and the two ball method was good for these dog/owner teams. But now dogs are much more aggressive, owners are overstimulating their dogs with too much exercise and frantic play, and we need the heavy bite objects to ground out this energy. The tennis ball can be frustrating to a dog with high energy and a damaged psyche.

  41. Cody says:

    My aunt has a min pin/jack russel mix and i have a lab pitt mix( she is 6 months old) they play constantly even to the point where my dogs fur stands up.i know she is really stressed. Even when i seperate them they whine for eachother and lung to play. It never gets violient but its way to intense for working on ndt with my pup but its too early to start obedience.i was just wondering if you had any tips on how to calm them and stop they constant play.

  42. kbehan says:

    Your young dog is becoming over stimulated and stressed/frustrated. This is because the purpose of play is to allow two individuals to sync up and align around a common focus, i.e. to hunt together. Thus, play can be inherently frustrating depending on the prey threshold (small prey v. large prey orientation) of the dog. IF the dogs were free to follow their aptitudes, the stronger dog would look off to the horizon to find a more suitable object-of-prey and they would become a team in this way. The little dog is also probably putting a vibe on the pup given their size and intensity disparity, and by all means they should not be playing indoors. What you describe doesn’t sound good. Try to get your pup around big floppy types of dogs, and don’t overdo socialization. The most important thing is the bond between dog and owner, so long calm walks in woods, grip a toy and carry it around, supple, quiet body work. Good luck.

  43. karis says:

    I was wondering if there might be a suitable substitute for tug/fetch/bite work for the 2 weeks after dental surgery for a puppy? Wondering how to keep the training going during this period.

  44. kbehan says:

    When I would be working a dog through a difficult phase of training, I would, if I had the luxury of time, give him a two week vacation. It was always amazing to me how much he improved in that down time. So don’t be worried about taking a break from work, this period set aside for recovery seems like an opportune time for a vacation.

  45. karis says:

    In “Your Dog is Your Mirror” you talk about your technique of reminding a dog how to play by engaging in prey/predator ping ponging. Does this mean that you might chase your dog when in the predator “mode”?

    We’ve always been advised to encourage the dog to chase you, but to never ever chase the dog so that he doesn’t learn to run away from you when you need to get a hold of him. Of course when he’s feeling playful he seems to really enjoy just that. It seems to be an integral other half of play, so if you’re really playing with your dog in a “natural” way, would you incorporate chasing him like another dog would? Does this reinforce the predator aspect of your “mooseness” or am I confusing things?

  46. kbehan says:

    A little Ping goes a long way, so the emphasis for we humans given our pronounced predatory aspect is to concentrate on the Pong part of the interaction. I pressure and focus my intensity toward the dog just to trigger its physical memory, being sure to attract it so that he quickly rebounds and the thrill for the dog is on wanting to chase and make contact with me as opposed to running away and being the chasee. So you just want to do enough to trigger and induce the dog so that he’s pulled to you.

  47. karis says:

    Perhaps this has been mentioned elsewhere, but should consideration be given to the size of the dog in terms of training?

    If the methods are guided by physics, then it seems there would be a relative difference between a 100 lb., 50 lb., 30 lb. dog being pushed by a 100-200 lb. human vs. a 5 lb. dog being pushed by the same. Granted we modulate the amount of force based on the mass of the dog, but is this enough?

    If the pushing technique works with the dog’s prey drive, then should we consider that while a wolf may hunt a moose whether it would hunt, say, an elephant? Speaking of moose, I don’t see what chance any number of 5 lb. wolves would have against one. Could the level of resistance that a human form presents for a tiny dog be too high to overcome a strong push? Or does the owner’s form register as something unique that renders their size irrelevant?

    I ask because I noticed that even after several weeks, I’m not able to push any harder than I was near the start without the dog backing away.

  48. kbehan says:

    I think there might be a technique error in your understanding of the pushing exercise. The dog pushes into the handler and the handler is always moving backwards. The handler offers the degree of resistance that is gaged to the emotional capacity as well as to the size of the dog. If the dog is backing away, it generally means that the handler has been moving in toward the dog rather than the dog learning to drive into the handler. It’s good to video yourself and see what’s going on, it becomes quite clear on the screen.
    Dogs don’t understand relative size per se, the higher the object, the deeper in the emotional battery it gets triggered and so it has an emotional response to size, and a certain degree of emotional capacity which will render a proportional response, but this isn’t an understanding of relative sizes. For example, the best police dogs become aroused by the size of the criminal, not intimidated. Whereas for more sensitive dogs, which means lower emotional capacity, they will be stressed by this deeper energy being triggered. It’s a force of acceleration they can’t handle in that context. Also, because emotion is a universal operating system for all animal consciousness, we can’t look at any species as self-contained. The Wooly Mammoth might have been too much for ancient wolves to deal with, but this would have created an urge to align with human beings so as to hunt Woolly Mammoth together. This is the same linkage that unites wolves with ravens so that wolves follow ravens to carcass that ravens can’t open on their own. Wolves rip apart the carcass and ravens later feast on their leavings. The negative gives access to the positive. The ravens catching the eyes of the wolves give ravens access to a carcass, the wolves following the eyes of a raven give them access to a carcass. It’s the same system organizing two disparate species into a symbiotic relationship.

  49. karis says:

    Thanks for the reminder that it’s the dog doing the pushing. Working with shorter distances and tighter quarters here so it’s probably harder to notice when, in an urge to get more push, the push hand moves forward instead of the food hand moving back.

    On a related note, does increasing height of the food and adding resistance that way (gravity; dog has to reach for food) accomplish a similar effect to the resistance of the pushing hand? Or is the pressure on the chest critical to activate Ca++ transport across cells or something like that?

    I’m probably confusing something here, but the idea crossed my mind after seeing the advice for overcoming height for vet/grooming.

  50. Hi Kevin,

    Everything is going peachy here since Eva started living on her platform bed inside the house. She’s not 100% yet, but definitely no longer a diva. At night she is actually relieved to go into her crate. Now that Hektor and Sophie have the freedom to move around the house without this “terror,” I noticed a funny behavior: if Sophie comes up to me for attention in her needy way at a time when I really want to be left alone, I ignore her and then Hektor will come over and start humping her until she walks away and settles down somewhere else, giving me space. He only does it when Sophie’s behavior is bothering me and I want her to go away. There’s nothing aggressive or violent about it, it all happens very calmly and he seems to solve this “problem” for me. Can you explain what is happening here? Is he grounding her nervous energy?

    Another question I have is if a person were to adopt a dog that is older and already has a charge (emotional baggage) but the person himself does not have this same charge, i.e. they are not feeding this system, does the charge naturally dissipate? Or would they still have to employ the NDT techniques to release the blocked emotion? I’m just thinking of this because as I understand that a person can “charge” a dog up subconsciously with their own unresolved emotion, can the equal and opposite thing happen, whereby a charged dog is able to become relieved of their unresolved emotion in bonding with a person who is totally open and unblocked (if such a person existed)? And in the first place, do you think the two would be attracted to each other if they didn’t have some sort of resonance?

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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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