Your Thoughts on ‘Your Dog Is Your Mirror’

As you get further along in your reading of Your Dog Is Your Mirror, or as you turn that last page of the book, we would like to create a section on the NDT site where you can discuss your thoughts about the material. It could be about a story, an ‘a-ha’ moment, or simply a question about the book. We know some of you have selected the book for a “Book of the Month” club, so please feel free to share your thoughts about that here as well.

Also, don’t forget about our Facebook page for the book, where you can connect with other readers, see photos, and keep up on the latest news. Keep on Pushing!

Your Dog Is Your Mirror | Promote Your Page Too

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 March 17, 2011 by Kevin Behan
Tags: ,

50 responses to “Your Thoughts on ‘Your Dog Is Your Mirror’”

  1. Christine says:

    I’m on my second read now and am planning on a third, more studious(ergo slower) read. I’ve had plenty of ‘ah-ha’ moments; some big some small and some things suddenly become clear after the fact. For example, I stopped to admire a woman’s 2 shitzu’s the other day. They were brother and sister so their coloring and markings were almost identical and they were both equally friendly as well as excited to see me. However, one came right up to me and made physical contact while the other came over but wouldn’t make contact. I could see clearly how they were “equal and opposite”. Now that I know how it feels to recognize that and I have that tool in my pocket, so to speak, I can hone my skill in recognizing the concept of equal and opposite in other situations.

  2. john cassidy says:

    I would like to ask a question about kevin’s dog jager, why did he turn out so shy and withdrawn when kevin gave him such a positive upbringing , im only on ch 9 if its answered later in the book i’m sorry,

  3. kbehan says:

    Well, there is the issue of genetics, a working dog person would say that Jager had a strong prey-making impulse but “weak nerves.” But since there actually isn’t any such thing as weak nerves, what’s really going on is that his sense of feeling grounded/connected was easily collapsed, hence the fear. In other words, he felt most at peace in nature, rather than in the world of man. And my overall point with the theme of the book, is that one will attract the dog they need (the genetics are incidental) in order to address what’s unresolved in their own makeup. My subsequent dogs despite completely different genetics and in some cases obtained sight unseen, had the same tendency, but to varying degrees of intensity as I became more aware of the real reason why. Hope this clarifies.

  4. john cassidy says:

    Got ya,thanks, great read by the way, very honest

  5. john says:

    Something completly unexpected happened in the form of a dream last night, i had been reading and mulling over the end of ch11 where heart is discussed and resolving unresolved emotion buried deep within
    The dream took me back to a place i used to live years ago in Dublin, Ireland, housing estates, with long rows of houses and back alleyways. I was walking the dog at the back of houses when somehow he got taken in and caged up by someone (unknown) who said they were keeping him and i wasn’t getting him back, The first wave of emotion that came over me was , anger ,straight forward enough, but then helplessness , and with the helplessness, an actual feeling in my heart like a wave, where my heart had sunk, and at that very moment a vision of my mother,it woke me in an instant, i had associated that feeling with my mother, who is very much alive but we have real difficulties between each other to this day, just as kevin says unresolved emotional difficulties, unanswered questions, which has left me scratching my head all my life of not feeling wanted , unloved.
    But this morning i woke feeling great, everyone pleasant and happy , sun shinning, getting on great with the dog, retrieving , tugging , pushing , texted my ma , said we’d talk soon , ive held a grudge against her all my life but hopefully in the next few weeks , we’ll put it all to rest,,,sorry its so long winded, but its had such an impact on me,,best of luck,

  6. kbehan says:

    Amazing. Your dog is your heart. He had been trapped by anger. Now he’s coming back to you.

  7. Mel says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this deeply moving story, John. I’ve had lot of unresolved anger issues concerning my dad and because of NDT, I finally told him how I felt and let it all out. I can’t tell you how that has released my heart and that anger was released too as he listened and apologised. I NEVER thought that conversation with him was going to happen in my life. So I wish you the very best and hope you’ll have a very special time with your mom! And Kevin, your insight always blow me away.

  8. Alwynne says:

    This is not as profound as some of the previous commenters, but I enjoyed the part of your book where you talk about how when two dogs live in one house, their characters invariably become opposite in many respects. That’s certainly the case with my dogs– Cholula only barks occasionally when truly provoked, while Pundit could bark all day; Cholula gets anorexic when nervous, while Pundit will eat anything at any time, Cholula has little interest in fetch, while Pundit (again) could do it all day. (An amusing corollary of the last two is that if I toss a morsel anywhere near Pundit’s head, he always snatches it mid-air, whereas when I toss a morsel to Cholula it invariably hits her on the forehead and falls to the floor, at which point, even if it is a delicious meat scrap, she carefully sniffs it before eating it). But another thing I notice in the dogs (especially heartening because with Cholula’s dog issues, they had a few tussles in the beginning, followed by some time being quite wary of each other) is that there are a lot of moments these days when they are perfectly in sync–when they come to greet me when I get home, for example, they both sniff into my hands in the exact same way, tails wagging in rhythm, when out on a walk during calm moments, they will sniff at the same spots at the same time, in complete harmony. They are both equally patient with the kids– for example, both will let my two-year old lie himself on top of them, arms clasping the dog’s neck, without complaining. They have their own interesting and still developing dynamic.

  9. Alwynne says:

    Hi Kevin:

    I finally finished Your Dog is Your Mirror, and the last two chapters are so fascinating and thought provoking. I’m really fascinated by your concept that if you take what you love most about your dog and hate most about your dog, they are always linked, and how they link is the key to understanding your relationship with your dog and why your dog acts the way he or she does. It has really opened up some interesting ideas for me about my relationship with my dogs. But I wanted to ask you, if this concept is true, then does that mean that the thing people love most about their dogs is inevitably the thing that is giving the dog the most stress/ somehow underneath the seeming happiness, actually making the dog unhappy? This thought is causing me some distress. I wonder if it is always true. For example, with my dog Pundit, one thing I love about him the most is something that is actually mostly gone from our lives now, but it is how much he loves to play in the water. Before I had kids, I used to whitewater kayak alot, and when it wasn’t too hot to leave him in the car, I’d take Pundit with me, have him wait in the car while I kayaked, and then after I was done I’d run him along the canal towpath and throw his stick in the canal for him to swim after and bring back, and both he and I would be 100 percent aligned in pure happiness. The other thing I love the most about Pundit is how great he is with all kids — patient when they tug on him, climb on him, ect., but also he will get any kid of any age to play ball with him by bringing the ball to the child and dropping it at their feet. And if it is a two-year-old who throws the ball behind her, he races to get it and bring it back with as much enthusiasm as if it is an older child who can really give it a good throw. Are all such moments actually secretly stressing Pundit out even though he appears to be at the peak of happiness, or only the ones that are less innately pleasing to a dog, such as when he is gentle to a two-year old climbing all over him?

  10. kbehan says:

    Quick question, was your childhood carefree or industrious?

  11. Alwynne says:

    I’d have to say a mix of the two. I internalized a lot of pressure to succeed academically, which also caused me a lot of anxiety (that’s the industrious part); on the other hand, I always had a fair amount of free time when I could do more or less what I wanted (the carefree part).

  12. kbehan says:

    In regards to your opening questions about dog picking up stress incumbent in happy times, this is true, but it doesn’t mean we have to change the dog, it means we have to be aware of the grief/sadness/anger that might be attendant as a complement to the joy we are aware of (because it’s at the surface) when we watch our dog do what we love it to be doing. Just being aware is all we have to do, then we can enjoy what the dog is doing with even more clarity. So when you have two dogs, you tend to align with one and identify with the other, typically the former would be the female/prey polarity, the latter the male/predatory polarity. The former is our surface way, the latter is our deeper core. So if you were to look at your dogs as part of an energy system, then one is expressing your core (anger at internalizing) the other your pattern of alignment (white water adventurism) to go with the flow.

  13. Alwynne says:

    This is such a fascinating way to think about the energies and issues in my life – i.e. as you write, my dogs as mirrors. It never had even occurred to me that maybe I gave Pundit his love of water because of my own love of water (although I still do not think he is faking his love of water — i.e. doing something he’d rather not do just for my sake–but I can see now that i transferred that water energy right into his being). It also has made me think about the fact that before Cholula, we had two dogs (Pundit and my old dog Ubi), who were much less diametrically opposed than Pundit and Cholula — of course they had their complementary differences I could pick out, but neither had aggression problems, both loved to play, etc. Maybe because the time with Ubi and Pundit was among the freest in my life — after college (so academic achievement issues more or less out of the way) and before I had kids of my own (Ubi was a very old dog by the time my first daughter was born). Of course, my husband has been a co-owner of all of our dogs too, so I’m sure his issues are intertwined with mine in my dogs’ reactions to things–although he complains that even the dog that was supposed to be “his” dog (Pundit–at the time I saw no need for a second dog, being perfectly happy with Ubi) became mine…

  14. Hi Kevin,

    Reading “Your Dog is Your Mirror” and especially the last chapter brought me right back to 1991-2 when I brought Degen to the kennel (at Ellen’s request) for you to see. For me that day led to the start of so many changes both initially and over the years in the ways I have interacted with and thus trained my dogs. For you it led to purchasing Degen’s littermate, Illo and later taking another littermate, Isaak on as a reclamation project. I so remember how different Degen and Illo were in some ways. Degen was more confident and sociable yet even then showed signs of the serious dog he would become. Illo was less interested in interacting with others (me!) but showed much more prey drive when we played with them one day in the yard – incidentally I have a number of photos of them together that day. After we lost touch, I wondered how his life had been and if in the end the two of them had been more alike than they appeared as young dogs. I think after reading about the change in your relationship, they may have been. Degen died at 13 leaving a legacy of many guide dogs, other service dogs, K-9s, competition dogs and great companions – he was the love of my life. Over the years I have had, to date, the great fortune to share my life with a daughter, grandson and great grandson of his.

  15. Christine says:

    Hey Dottie,

    You should post some of this pix; I’m sure we all would love to see them! ♥

  16. kbehan says:

    Great to hear from you Dottie, and you’re right, Degan was quite a dog. Isaak was more like Degan than Illo. Interestingly I’m a Gemini and I always end up with two dogs even though I’m a one-dog-man and the second one always comes by “chance.” Each of course are polar opposites, so Isaak and Illo fulfilled those polarities. Now it’s Hexi and Hessian, and again not by design. So Illo moved toward the Degan polarity, but they still were fundamentally different, as are we of course. Isaak lived to be 15, the grand old man of the place, he was a spectacular dog as well. Thanks for reading the book and stay in touch.

  17. christine randolph says:

    i gave the book to my local dog trainer to read it and explain it to me…because i just cannot understand a lot of it.

    sure i get that the dog is the mirror but it is not so easy to interpret the things the dog does as an interpretation of myself.

    i.e. the dog refuses the very first obstacle in the agility match and not only that, then runs out of the barn to go explore ???

    even though mama has delicious raw meat treats standing up to the other competitors who are frequently grossed out by it.

    do I ever do that and if i did why would i ? not skilled enough to do my job so as a protest to the boss for giving insufficient training, I go AWOL ? or too curious about the outdoors to do my job ? or stubborn or afraid ? who would know. i guess i always thought of myself as very easy going, when in reality i am a pisser…either way, it is interesting to contemplate….

  18. kbehan says:

    No one knows you like your dog. Our personalities are predicated on a self-defeating logic loop because energetically speaking, it’s a defense against what we want. Meanwhile our dog tunes into our core and attunes accordingly. So from the benefit of our exchanges and your contributions to these pages, I would say you are a free thinker and are willing to challenge authority and can boil complex points to their simple essence. However, you are probably using a training paradigm with your dogs that runs counter to your core makeup as it’s embedded with judgments that aren’t in alignment with your true core. Hence the glitch. In other words how you relate to your dogs is symptomatic of your self-defeating logic loop upon which your personality is predicated. For example, you don’t strike me as someone who is into collectivized social activities that require group think, but then you do group activities with your dog that require strict codes of obedience.

  19. Christine says:

    Hey Christine…good to have you back and questioning, adding input. You’ve always been a welcomed contributor, in my frame of reference at least. You keep things lively!

  20. christine randolph says:

    yes hi everyone the internet diaspora is at an end for me also with a laptop for the cabin at the “dog property”

    yes to all of Kevin’s analysis of my personality. it sure means frustration with dog AND my self. occasionally. haha ! as long as they do not hurt anyone. the darn farm outside that agility barn is full of geese and baby geese etc. not a great place to have dogs run w/o leash ! i wish they had a proper door…then it would not be such a panic mode.

    actually i was able to resolve at least the reason why the tire jump was refused so often in training and maybe also at the (fun) trial.

    it was too high. she will jump it when it is about 10 inches off the ground…i am sure with enough repeats she will jump 16 inches which i want her to jump in competition. so everyone can only overcome So Much ! and i am against pushing myself and others too hard. i am not a flippin marine !!!!! said the dog…and said Chris.

    this is also why i like dogs and agility. if a dog refuses something, it kind of challenges my creativity to make her or him do it in the end. like, change the training set up and see if and when they might do it. get them hungry like Kevin says. shamelessly manipulate the poor dog into doing it. pseudo scientific wise. not so much with the energy theory, just kind of muddling through and getting it done, but trying to make it sort of repeatable…trying to remember what works and keep doing it. not easy because i have already done SO MANY things with them. Nonetheless a pattern seems to emerge. the dud dogs will do ANYTHING for my new trainer and VERY LITTLE for me. i guess they do not feel as manipulated by her…

    how is that for a personality trait…

    i am DEFINITELY never going to amount to anything in agility but on the odd occasion it is very fun…

    i have not had too much trouble with the dogs not being obedient enough for agility.

    if you want to succeed within reason in agility it requires the dogs to see a bunch of value in the obstacles and also that they have slightly less weak “nerves” and are OK with a bunch of strangers and their dogs milling about albeit on leashes.

    other than that, the judge can know the rules and laissez-faire participants like myself can pick up what they need as they mosey along from match to match.

    i have seen the most counter productive behaviours of dogs that are supposedly accomplished agility dogs. running to the ring crew to say hello instead of running the course is one example. refusing one obstacle after another. screwing up the weaves. etc etc. incessant barking while taking obstacles and while other dogs compete, is allowed/tolerated by the officials… of course it is an immediate disqualification for that particular run but who cares. it is very easy to get a disqualification. there are many rules and even if you and i think the run was good, the judge might find something to DQ you.

    even though i am a very bad trainer with very little control over my dogs, my dog Betsy has yet to compete in a trial without getting at least a couple of ribbons for clean and fast runs

    she does not give me hardly any of the undesirable behaviours i have seen other allegedly better dogs present to their allegedly control freak trainers.

    i am happy. she is doing much better than i deserve haha!

    more fun than the trials and very much fun for me is the training at home.

    i was able to purchase a complete set of competition size equipment very cheaply last xmas.

    we now have a “dog property” where we established the equipment and added to it via me building many jumps from pvc and hoola hoops etc.

    yes to being persona non grata in a tightly knit agility community…in my short but explosive agiltiy career I have already attracted many raised eyebrows already by non conforming with those stern and whossy agility ladies…haha !

    since i have the equipment and time to train them, i thought i might as well give my 2 agility dud dogs a go.

    their canadian agiltiy numbers just came in the mail and i am hoping to have both of them compete in the low key event called jumpers which is jumps tunnels chute by the end of the year.

    there are several trials per month that i can access from the “Dog Property”. whereas there are only 2 per year or so near my home in southern central it is too easy to go to a trial there, and so i feel compelled….

    or whenever. no pressure is my motto !!!

    oops gotta go…

  21. christine randolph says:

    i had to rush off so read this again to make sure it is ok. just one correction there is NO disqualification for barking at an agility trial…

  22. Cliff says:

    (Kevin, If this isn’t the right place for this comment, please feel free to move it) We are spending some time in Germany, and all the dogs we meet (or see), city or country, seem friendly and well-behaved (except for some leash-pulling from the smaller dogs). And almost all of them walk without a leash, are focused on their owner, wait patiently outside the store– again with no leash– and so forth. Granted, these are the dogs taken out on the street in the first place, but the behavior must be very commonplace– or else there are a lot of dogs cooped up indoors. Which i doubt.

    I think the dogs are just interacting with, and are tuned into the community at large so they, and the people around them, have (unconciously, i guess) formed a group instead of a pack. The atmosphere is so relaxed that there’s less of a charge to build up. But i’m just guessing. Any thoughts?

  23. kbehan says:

    Because Germany and European countries in general are so developed, they husband nature and so I believe that culturally they have a deeper reverence for the nature of dogs than do Americans. They treat and train them as animals rather than as family members and don’t give them intense doses of attention. If a dog is in public, I don’t think passerbyes feel the need to acknowledge and make a fuss over the dog, just as one wouldn’t do with a small child in their parent’s tow. They admire a dog working more than they need to make it the center of attention. So dogs aren’t on edge. Just imagine if a small child in the company of their parents came to expect that strangers would bend down all the time and hug and squeeze them. They’d become neurotic. Thanks Cliff and give my regards to the greatest dog training country on earth.

  24. Cliff says:

    Spot on. Seen many dogs, but the only time i petted one is when the owner’s dog in a restaurant (!) we were in came over by himself to say “hi”– he probably sensed my deprived state.

  25. Lacey says:

    I saw the same things a few years back. I travelled through Switzerland, Italy and France and I saw more American cockers than any other breed of dog (maybe that’s because cockers are my breed of choice so I have cocker-goggles). I did stop to talk to the owners/dogs and not a single one of the cockers had the typical American cocker issues – shrieking/biting/excited urinating. They were all calm and relaxed. It was lovely! None of the dogs felt clean though – I wondered if they all lived outside.

  26. christine randolph says:

    not sure why the other one isn’r posting but there are a ton of breeds forbidden in germany for being to aggressive along with any and all of their cross breeds. so, maybe germans should not be allowed to breed cause they have shown too much aggression haha.that would be me – the german with no kids, just rescue dogs

  27. christine randolph says:

    here’s how they test dogs in germany to establish whether any individual belonging to the “banned” genetic pool will be allowed to remain into germany

    many federal states require for this test to be repeated every 2 or 3 years in order to keep the dog legal

    so here are sample test scenarios for the German Wesenstest (test of personality, temperament)

    a stranger approaches
    a stranger who behaves like a drunk passes the dog in a serpentine (very important that the dog can tolerate this, in germany the booze is cheap and readily available in every supermarket…haha)
    a stranger yells at the dog
    a blind person with an orientation stick approaches the dog
    a person stares at the dog, and displayes threatening body language (arms spread)
    a person pretends to attack the dog with a broom
    a person stumbles suddenly and gets into the dog’s space
    a person with a noisy wheel barrow confronts the dog
    a person with a baby stroller passes by the dog
    a person crawls towards the dog and attempts to pet him or her
    a cyclist approaches and uses a bell
    a jogger approaches from behind and overtakes the dog
    a ball rolls towards the dog
    a person accidentally touches the dog with hand or part of clothing
    a person with dark clothing approaches
    a dog on a leash approaches
    something metallic falls noisily to the ground near the dog
    a person lying on the floor suddenly gets up and runs away
    the handler has to circle the dog’s snout with his or her hands
    handler plays with dog and toy
    stranger plays with dog
    dog has to get over an obstacle
    an umbrella is quickly opened near the dog
    simulated lift : dog is led into a crowd of humans one person screams at the dog
    dog is tethered, handler disappears, another dog is leashed and led past the tethered dog
    a car approaches a dog in sitting position

    bother !!!!!!!!
    i guess if thats all it takes i personally would probably stick with the permissible breeds when choosing a new dog…

  28. christine randolph says:
    heres what brought all this on in the year 2000

  29. Margot says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I loved your new book. Firstly it was a great read – got a little bogged down in the middle in the second last section but only for a short while. Turned straight back to page one when I finished to read it again so am currently on my second pass.

    I think you have succeeded in distilling what you have learned on an intuitive level into concepts that can be understood by others. People are (re)developing an awareness of our nature right now but we have not really got the language for it worked out yet, so it is not an easy thing to do.

    Your openness about your personal experiences beautifully illustrated what you were trying to get across. Thank you so much for that.

    I think your message will resonate with many people, I certainly hope it does and that your book gets a wide readership.

    My dog Butters had the benefit of NDT from the start. People tell me its as if he understands every word I say. I tell them he does not understand the words at all, he just knows what I mean.

    ‘Your dog is your mirror’ has added a lot to my understanding and I am now looking at the things Butters does in a new light. I think it will be an interesting exploration.


  30. Annie says:

    Christine- your post regarding the multiple scenarios enacted in Germany to test a dog’s temperament is just like living in Manhattan!

    In all honesty, in walking Luke,my Pit-Mix the length of one block, we encounter screaming children, car doors opening onto the sidewalk, street people sleeping around, umbrellas opening, multiple dogs and their walkers, the elderly sexpot lady with the huge lip implants that wants to kiss my dog whenever she sees him, wheelchairs, drunks, bicycles, trash bags, rats, sirens, crowds….it really is a challenge not to be tense, for both of us~ I have been sticking to a routine of pushing during feeding times, and playing tug, doing less dog run time, and I’m seeing a wonderful process taking place. Luke is steadier in a way that is hard to articulate, there is just a lightness in the drape of the leash as we walk; he is actually sniffing more, slowing down, instead of charging ahead. I think that if we ever moved to Germany, he would truly feel that it was a piece of cake! thanks for sharing.. Annie

  31. christine randolph says:

    hey, i never knew about this new test (since 2000)
    i just googled it when cliff said how awesome these dogs are
    i have not lived in Germany for several decades
    my aunt has these cavalier king charles, other than that i do not know people who own dogs there
    the CKCs definitely did not have to pass the test !!!!
    i think NYC is about on a par with all of germany. it is such a densely populated space !!!!!

    i am in southern central british columbia and guess what…my dogs hardly ever walk in those 4 city blocks I have around here

  32. Lacey says:

    “They [dogs] are here to bring us a choice. If we choose to let instinct and intellect run the show, we will do unto our dog what we most hated having done unto us; we will be the passive relay nodes on the transmission of “the charge.””

    I had a middle of the night “ah-ha” after reading this line. I did this to Rudy. Mom was/is highly emotional and leaned on me emotionally. I grew up frequently feeling suffocated and unfree. I remember the day that I decided to NOT ever be like that…and in response I became almost unemotional and highly rational. Until Rudy came along. He was scared of everything – inanimate immobile things, random noises, sudden movements, etc. I was highly protective of him – he owned my heart and was the recipient of most of my emotions. I think obsessed is a fair term to use. Gradually over a few years his fears lightened up but he was still quirky and very shy. But then, when he was 8 yo, I had to leave him for a whole month at a physical rehab clinic 7 hours away from me. It ripped me up to leave him but in that time away my emotional tentacles unwound from him – for that month he was free from me! And he returned home to me a much healthier, relaxed, braver dog.

    I thought that the genius vet and staff had worked an emotional miracle for Rudy, like they had worked a physical miracle for him. But now I know better. They didn’t techincally do anything other than rescue Rudy from my obsessive emotional grip on him. In that month away, I regained some perspective and emotional health and when he came home I could love him with a healthier laissez-faire love that let Rudy be Rudy. He still has some quirks but he has come a loooooong way. I have come a long way too.

  33. Casey says:

    I actually am just getting started on reading the book, and basing from the preface title itself “It’s not about the Dog”(which is indeed very true actually”), I can tell that the time reading this book will definitely be worth it.

    Hope the comments others posted will live up to my expectations! Now I’m off to read again, have several hours ’til midnight and a cup full of coffee to spare.

  34. Lisa says:

    Hi Kevin, First off, thanks so much for writing Your Dog is Your Mirror. It is incredibly insightful. I was especially intrigued with the part on what you love most about your dog and what you hate most about your dog are connected. I thought about that and the thing I hate the most about my dogs are that they bark too much and so I love when they are all lying around quietly at the end of the day. When I was growing up I lived in a society where children were seen and not heard, and corporal punishment was a regular part of life. Curiously, the other day I found my report card from when I was a kid and although I was a good student, in the comments section they always wrote “Lisa is too talkative”. Well guess what, eventually Lisa just didn’t open her mouth. I eventually became a shy, introverted person. These days I’m much more comfortable in my skin but it was eye opening to see that being made to be quiet and well behaved is still an issue on some level for me. I live with several dogs and I know the barking thing is my issue, and not my husband’s, because when I go away on a trip the dogs become unusually quiet. They just sleep all day long, it’s incredible. I was just wondering how do we figure out what’s our stuff and what’s our partner’s stuff when we have several dogs, the dynamics must be more complex. Do I take a look at what I hate and love the most about each dog and those are my issues? I guess if the behaviour doesn’t bother you then it’s not your stuff? And how do I go about changing the barking issue, pushing with each dog? But you know another thing is that there’s one dog, the oldest one who’s 11, that gets the ball rolling. If she’s not in the room and my husband comes home for example, no one barks. Well the questions are endless, the book definitely requires a few readings. All the best.

  35. Cliff says:

    Had kind of an “ah ha!” moment the other day. A. was describing how good L is on walks, particularly when confronted by larger dogs, and most especially particularly when they are acting up, pulling on their leashes, etc. She sets him “Down”, and he watches (mostly) quietly as they tug their owner past his position.

    Now. Anthropomorphizing here, but watching L., he always looks at us for an instant as the dogs pass as if to say “I’m feeling blocked by those bad dogs, but you’re taking care of that, right?” So he has got to the point where he gives us his anxiety/energy which seemingly flows into him and right out again with us as the “conduit”. Maybe far-fetched, but it feels right, and he’s become the model, well-trained dog in the neighborhood(!)— at least to our neighbors who have encountered him in (non) action.

  36. kbehan says:

    Right, when a dog sees its owner as “the ground” then they project their attraction to other things into their owner. Owner becomes not only a conduit for dog’s satisfaction, but if you play “ping-pong,” a filter so that the spikes of these intense stimuli can be smoothed out into pleasurable experiences. Give the hardest working dog in Greenwich a big rub a dub and Keep On Pushing!

  37. Cliff says:

    Glad you agree, and rubs (Outside Only) accomplished.

  38. Christine says:

    In reading this post, “Reading more from “Your Dog Is Your Mirror” by Kevin Behan and realised that when I am stressed, all three dogs start doing strange things and getting clingy. When I’m irritated, Storm will pace, Brynda “talks” to me and Micah hides. When I am angry, there’s total disharmony in my pack. Next time your dog is doing something “off”, do a self status check. Where were your emotions 10 minutes ago? Yelling at the kids? Arguing with your spouse? Or taking a mental vacation in Tahiti with a cute cabana boy?”, I am reminded of the fact that I am not yet “AWARE” of myself, my feelings, etc. I just can’t seem to get there from here but I’m still working on it. A 3rd read of YDIYM with highlighter and pen in hand are fully warranted if I am EVER going to get there! LOL-LOL I have miles to go before I can rest

  39. Joanne says:

    Hi there
    I read dog is your mirror and thoroughly enjoyed it – probably would benefit from going back to it again (and again). An important bit for me was dispelling the submissive/dominance role. I really get the concepts, being a trained energy therapist myself. It does lead me to wonder though – how can I use it practically? I am new to Natural Dog training and have started Kevin’s book on that. I have also just bought some DVDs (from Neil Sattin). I am an owner of 3 dogs that I have struggled over the years with the training of – a hamiltonstovare (not reliable off the lead and problems with sheep chasing), a trailhound (generally ok off the lead but can go awol and get lost) who is also very nervous, and a young labrador retriever who is a dream. I am already aware that my emotions affect my dogs’ behaviour when we have training sessions and it offers great feedback for ‘in the moment’. I’m not asking for a therapy session here(!) but could Kevin, or anyone else, offer some words of advice on ‘where to start’ in identifying and resolving the issues that have brought my dogs to me? This may be your next book…?

    Any thoughts would be gratefully received

  40. kbehan says:

    The first step is not to start with the moment by moment, small and highly specific details, but just like dream interpretation, try to get the broad themes to the surface. For example, I have found with the clients of “problem” dogs, that they are attracted to something about the dog that reflects something unexpressed within themselves. For example, today there is so much judgment against aggression, and so we find that people are drawn to rescuing breeds noted for aggression. Another common theme is that a person might have a fear of being contained, hemmed in by civilization, and so they end up with a dog that is impossible to contain. You mention your lab as a dream, and this might be the idealized version of what someones’ personality must be in order to fit into society. While it’s certainly convenient living with such a dog since they’re so compliant, nevertheless one could be in rebellion against having just such a personality, which the other dogs manifest in their behavior. At any rate, before you try to change a dog’s behavior, it’s helpful to first find the fears and judgments they are bringing to your attention. You’ll know it when you find it. Good hunting!

  41. joanne says:

    Hi Kevin
    thanks for your very helpful reply, putting me on my ‘hunting path’. Just wanted to update on my experiences – I have been pushing with my dogs for a week now, morning and evening meals (wish I didn’t feed minced tripe so much!). The results are really impressive.Once I had got the technique right my dogs were not reticent at all, being total chow hounds. The 9 month puppy launches at me! I have tried to offer massages in between but they just seem to want to eat. On occassions when I have massaged my trailhound (Logan) he flips overs to show me his belly – he does this quite a lot anyway – is that a sign of stress? Also, after one of the first successful sessions with Logan he lay down on the grass and wouldn’t come straight in, almost like it had been too much for him? He has been fine since then.

    The difference in behaviour when walking on the lead or training straight after is so noticeable. The trailhound used to go from 0-60 mph when released, quivering as he waited for the command – now its more like 0 -30 and he seems to be more able to come straight back to me rather than looping round . the hamilton, a great sniffer, I have managed to redirect really effectively when he’s picking up scent in a controlled area(early days) – I feel I have finally found something that is helping me understand my dogs! The Qi Gong beforehand helps as well

    kind regards


  42. Lacey says:

    I came home from running errands today and Lou had been hard at work while I was gone. I have 2 books on my bedside table – Born To Run and Your Dog is Your Mirror. Lou chose your book…pulled it off the table and shredded the cover. 🙂

    He has also figured out how to open the touch-to-open mechanism on the closet where I keep my backpacking gear. He opened up the pack and dragged out some of the gear. I LOVE to backpack but I haven’t been in over a year now. Perhaps it’s time to schedule a camping trip 🙂 And, it’s back in the crate for Lou when I leave the house.

  43. kbehan says:

    Since my book was selected along with your backpack, I’ll interpret his chewing-the-cover-to-shreds as the canine version of a “Like.” (And you’re right, it looks like Rudy is up for a camping trip.)

  44. Laura says:

    Hi chaps,
    What a fascinating thread! I’ve been thrilled to read through the comments and reach further enlightenment on so many sub-topics. It’s so refreshing to experience new concepts and can so easily be applied – Although, often only after the second read, as so many have mentioned.
    I’m currently at the very start of ‘your Dog is your mirror’ (20 pages in) and am sure that as I read on, my questions and curiosities will be fully answered. However, I’m currently conducting a dissertation on the relationship between the development of severe aggression in German Shepherd’s (of any form) and the owners long-term emotional status – e.g (experiencing long-term depression, emotional and psychological trauma due to bereavement, relationship difficulties, injury, illness, etc). The research data collected will be largely qualitative rather than scientific, quantitative number crunching/stats. My exploration is far more concerned with the type and process of energy shared between owner and GSD – Although this perhaps won’t be preferable to my course adviser, who’d always rather have less abstract biological evidence for behaviour within a dissertation.

    Anyway….I’m side-tracking!

    My questions is to you Kevin – What is your take on this breed in particular, with regards to the development of severe behavioural issues and the strong, yet often changeable energy relationship with their owner?

    Many thanks – Can’t wait to hear back!

  45. kbehan says:

    I don’t break the issues down according to breed, although I’m sure there is some correlation and whatever you come up with statistically may prove revealing. Basically I’m focusing on the universality of emotion and the emotional dynamic and for the most part I don’t think of it as varying much by breed, although intensity of behavior can be breed specific. The other thing to bear in mind is that the GSD breed is highly bifurcated between the working and show lines, and then what region of the world is predominating in the working dog market so one can’t treat it as a monolithic gene pool.
    But to your specific question, in my mind, the working GSD (giving the herding/tending heritage) is able to elaborate the emotional dynamic (wherein the charge is passed back and forth to render complex working behavior) to its highest level of elaboration. So I’m talking about complex behavior as a modular construct, one simple thing multiplying to more and more refined expressions. In other words, the GSD can hold the entire flock of sheep, in mind with the sheep herder, as one feeling, or one group mind. Thus, its energy is deflected around the border of the flock and it serves as a living fence. The capacity to express its attraction to the prey animal, in harmony with the herder, and without loss of energy, is also why so many of the GSD breed tend to be “sheepish” or shy. They are completely open to the energy of the sheep, and so can be deflected and derive equal pleasure from pacing the boundary line and take direction from the herder without feeling a loss of access to the prey. Other breeds tend toward an eventual collapse and end up focusing on one particular sheep. (I owe this understanding by way of Ellen Nickelsberg.

  46. john says:

    Just going over some of the book again,in particular ch 11, where the past gets buried,,to be honest i find difficult, Two dogs forming an emotional body,knowing their roles by virtue of where they feel the emotional centre of gravity resides,,one with pressure in its head and the other in its gut,,
    1 does the animal with pressure in its head, always feel it in its head,is that a permanent fixture,because it is a predator or is it just at that moment in time,,are we talking about a dominant dog maybe,,
    2 the other whom feels a void in its gut, again is that constant or at that moment ,is the void not the feeling wolves get before setting off on a hunt ,in that case making them more predator like,,
    3 can these 2 animals meeting on a different day ,take a different approach,,or is this hardwired,,
    thanks ,

  47. Steve Barker says:

    Each time I read this book I learn something new. It has been fascinating applying the concept that a dog’s behavior is a case of it mirroring how we are truly feeling, even when we are not consciously aware of that feeling often because it comes from a deep layer of unresolved emotion.

    I have three dogs with me at the moment and they could not be more different in terms of their behavior, their characters, and their temperaments yet I found something of me what I see them doing (or not doing) and as I have connected with that place within me it has been fascinating to watch the change in them. The process had enabled me to discover and resolve some deep layers of unresolved emotions that an army of psychologists would never have uncovered and of course that process is always ongoing.

    Only yesterday I was working with a couple who had problems with their two dogs one fearful and anxious and the other supposedly aggressive and within a very short period of time I was able to help them bring about a quite amazing shift in that behavior with no training input whatsoever simply by showing them how the dog’s responded to different energy and having them explore how they are feeling and how each dog’s behavior might be mirroring something going on inside of them.

    It is great watching people’s eyes light up and their whole energy change when they connect with the truth.

    The woman was someone that liked to rescue dogs and she was able to realize that whenever she saw a dog being walked she felt this powerful urge to run over to it and hug it coming from deep inside, producing a feeling of almost desperation inside of her and it was that which her dog was mirroring when it went into its crazed ‘aggressive’ outbursts. Shortly after this realization she was able to walk her dog past other dogs without it reacting at all.

    Your dog is your mirror is a book you can read for your entire life and each time you do you will learn something new

  48. joanne frame says:

    Hi Steve, that sounds really interesting, can you give examples of how you showed the couple how their dogs responded to different energy?

  49. Larry says:

    Yes Steve. Please be a little more specific. My pointer/hound rescue cannot even see another dog without barking and lunging at them. Even when she sees them from inside the house while they’re walking down our street. I would LOVE to someday be able to walk her past another dog without this happening. From past experience I believe her reaction is more that of attraction rather than aggression, but it still is something that I would like desperately to solve. Through NDT, I believe/hope she is improving, but it’s still my dream for her to someday be able to interact with other dogs and actually enjoy herself.

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: