Get The Bite Out

I find myself constantly saying to owners of aggressive and fearful dogs, “You’ve got to get the bite out;” but I guess my exhortation is a little too cryptic because a few years ago while I was giving a seminar Trisha, our lovely assistant, finally asked me: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN: ‘Get the bite out?’”

I mean that if a dog doesn’t love to bite, then it needs to bite. If our dog loves to bite, then it will love to bite what we want it to bite because love works according to “a want.” What we want, our dog wants, this is the essence of their loving nature. (The opposite can unfortunately be true as well as when we project a need onto a dog. Then what we need our dog needs and this is one way of defining a “problem behavior.” For example, if an owner needs attention, their dog needs attention and to such an extent it will annoy the owner.) Whereas if our dog wants what we want, our dog knows how we feel and they can easily learn to do what we want them to do. Instinct on the other hand works according to a need and a need cannot be moderated because an instinct always travels the path of least resistance whereas it’s important to note that everything we want our dog to do in domesticated life is ALWAYS the path of highest resistance, “Don’t chase the cat.” “Stick around the yard.” “Don’t jump up on the counter.” Everything we want our dog to do stands in abject defiance of instincts or acquired habits. And this running to the path of least resistance is because the intensity of instinctual behavior is fueled by stored fear, (the rush of fear is due to the sudden, intense SENSATION of acceleration due to a collapse of a state of attraction) and so a dog cannot control the intensity of an instinct in the absence of a group trigger. (A group trigger converts fear back to its original desire before the state of collapse.) So we have to get the fear of a bite (which is simultaneously a fear of acceleration) out of the dog’s system in order for it to learn to love to bite. Thus, getting the bite out is getting the fear out. When fear is reconverted to desire, A WANT becomes available to serve as a group trigger and this feeling of purpose is the faculty within a dog that allows it to control an instinct. Only a feeling can travel the path of highest resistance and it is empowered by a “group trigger” (i.e. WHAT the group wants).

So if our dog will predictably manifest this love to bite in any and all settings, then our dog’s behavior will be sociably predictable in any and all settings. For example, on his first trip to the big city, “Hessian” my German shepherd was seven years old and he had only been off our farm four or five times in his life with most of these being trips to the vet. Several years ago I conducted a seminar in Manhattan and I brought Hessian in order to demonstrate my method. It was his first experience in a hotel, on an elevator, on sidewalks; negotiating honking and screeching traffic, a crowded store, in Central Park and so on. The first thing I did when I parked the car in the hotel’s underground garage and had the luggage loaded on the trolley cart was to take Hessian out of the car, produce the bite toy, have him push into me and then get the bite. I let him wrest it from my grip (fight to overcome resistance) and then carry it around for a few moments to savor all the praise I lavished on him. The valet couldn’t help but smile when he saw how happy the dog was. Then I tucked the toy in my jacket and we went about getting ourselves checked in. Now because Hessian bit the toy as hard as he does back on the farm and was willing to put his heart into fighting it free from my hand, I knew that the dog I left Vermont with was the same dog that had arrived with me in Manhattan. Because all Hessian’s energy was grounded into the thing I wanted him to bite, everything about Manhattan was going to fit into his emotional definition of normal and therefore nothing we would encounter (such as the dog in the park that jumped him trying to take his toy away (reflecting its owners need for competitiveness I’m sure) would be unmanageable for him.

Even though to our eyes it might appear that the big city meant everything was different from our quiet rural backwater homestead, this is a comparison that only the human intellect can make. For Hessian everything about the city fit into the parameters of everyday experience because I had grounded whatever intensity was being knocked loose by the city’s high rate of change into that which I wanted him to want. For Hessian it was just another day on the farm, “Oh boy, oh boy, is it time to feed the chickens?”
If a dog doesn’t love to bite in a moment of tension, then it will NEED to bite in order to relieve that tension and will become completely at the mercy of instincts and habits.

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Published March 22, 2010 by Kevin Behan

138 responses to “Get The Bite Out”

  1. kbehan says:

    Another point I forgot to repeat is that there is no such thing as “bad” energy, there is only ungrounded energy, and then the judgments that get attached to energy are what make it feel “bad.” So we have to make the distinction that we’re really dealing with ungrounded energy if things aren’t going well. Whereas if energy is grounded, it always leads to sociability and cooperation, so you can’t do it wrong if you’re working to become “the ground.” But, you will be tested as your judgments don’t want to let go because this is your definition of safety. Keep On Pushing!

  2. christine randolph says:

    HAHA no one mentions bite incidents, its like when you go to japan and tell them you are from the US they do not mention nuclear explosions. like when you are german and meet a jewish person, they usually do not talk about the holocaust…
    i have dog aggressive dog, and maybe because I am in Canada where people tend to not understand aggression, a lot of people in my neighborhood are scared of her.
    I have a neighbor with a shitzu who has been attacked by a large dog in this neighborhood when he was investigating the large dog’s the owner picks up the dog whenever another dog is in sight and starts swearing under his breath (he is also an alcoholic). somehow, in my neighborhood everyone has dogs but they do not seem to know too much about dogs and do not look as though they want to learn anything about them. If I drive 20 minutes to another community, that is the place to have a dog, everyone has an in depth understanding of dogs and there is a huge off leash area where they all play….

  3. Crystal says:

    Bea and Colt will both come up on the bed in the mornings around sun up. They are allowed on the sofas.

    I had already given treats to both visitors numerous times to give the dogs and they are dog people so are comfortable having them jump up on them.

    Bea is doing much better today. I tethered her to me for the first half hour upon waking. We all took the trail walk together this a.m. and everyone can move without being barked at though Bea is startling easily.

    I pushed her dinner last night with the man in the yard with us.

    When pushing with Bea I notice that she has become less frenetic, just as much strength in her push after three days. More fluid feel. Colt is pushing stronger and leaping into me.

    I am familiar with the group mind theory in relation to a human family. i.e. children will often act out the outspoken anger in the parents. I suppose Bea’s big chargeyness would unsettle Colt when it happens and that seems to be happening a lot these days. Then of course there is the anger that has been thrown around as a couple of family members will sometimes yell, “Bea enough”.

    I have a nuts and bolts question. When Bea is in the midst of lunging and barking what is the best thing for me to do?

    And finally, Kevin is this the appropriate place to keep checking in?

  4. kbehan says:

    Sorry to be a spoil sport but I advise for dogs not to get up on beds or sofas. I’ll write an article on this soon, but it’s a big NDT no-no. At any rate you have to attract to you everything Bea channels to strangers. So when someone triggers her lunge/bark, she has to channel lunge/bark to you so that you can make this incoherent response to a stranger a coherent response to owner. (Once you can giveth, then you can taketh.) So teach her to speak on command when there is provocation that makes her bark and push into you to re-channel the lunge. It is also important for her to learn to down/stay when folks are moving about so she can re-tune her “vibration.” These incidental movements need not destabilize her. Once she will channel all her energy to you, then you can make her lay down if she starts to bark inappropriately and it won’t have any residual side effects. Feel free to post here over the next few weeks so that you can get a clear idea of where you’re heading.

  5. Crystal says:

    Yeah, well my husband is completely with you on the dogs on beds and sofas 🙂 I’m guessing not for the same reasons.

    Will be interested to see what you have to say in the article. Is there anywhere on your site now with some of that info?

    I will keep them off the bed.

    Something kind of cool. My husband has been away since I started working with NDT. He wasn’t even aware NDT existed. He was playing with Colt and Bea and my son asked him if he noticed anything different. He immediately said Colt is not giving up the tug toy to Bea. It’s true. Colt no longer gets in her face to keep it. No need. They have a big hard game of tug and he will come away with it more often than not. That never happened in the past. Ever.

    Bea and Colt both know speak on command so I will start using it. I haven’t done any mat work ( your box work) in a long time with either of them, so will get to it.

    Thx Kevin. I am definitely seeing changes in my pups. And those are good changes.

  6. christine randolph says:

    it would be nice to know which benefits to expect before one shooes off the little furburgers off the comfy places they have come to feel entitled to

  7. AZStu says:

    Crystal, welcome to NDT. Here is some info about couches! comments # 4 & 5 some discussion starting at comment # 10

    I think that some of the benefits are stated nicely here. I have experienced peace of mind knowing that my dog just wants to ground out energy and feel in the flow so anything that doesn’t achieve this purpose has been easier to let go of.

  8. Crystal says:

    Thank you AZStu for the welcome and the links.

    Yes, I have no trouble putting “off the bed and furniture” into place if it will help.

    Each pup did sleep in a crate for their first 5-7 mos. Once each was over the chew stage I put the crate away. Maybe time to bring them out again. They both enjoyed their crate and would put themselves to bed sometimes an hour or so before I got there. Colt would even go there mid day to get time away from the younger pup.

  9. Christine says:

    For What It’s Worth: My mom’s dog (Siberian/wolf) has a “playpen” in the sunroom. Every night when my mom starts her bedtime routine, Sister will get up and walk into her crate and settle down for the night. It’s not a thing my mother ‘trained’ her for, it just happened that way. So while we might look at a crate as prison, to our dogs it’s just there place to go. As Kevin has said, “Dogs love assigned seating.”

  10. Crystal says:

    Bea needs help!

    I’d like to preface by saying Colt is continuing to become more confident. Three people on our walks during the past two days have commented on this fact without any prompting from me. Two men have said, Hey look, I can pat Colt today. They’ve been trying off and on for the past yr. Don’t know why people do that, but anyway, yes, Colt has gone up to both of them wagging and getting into the stroking. Hasn’t run after anything and his stranger danger bark is more of a woof these days. Low charge. He looks to me and stays with me til they get close and then he is fine.

    The other comment had to do with him running out after the frisbee when another dog was already going for it. Colt out ran him and caught the frisbee, bumping him in mid air. Again something he just would not do prior to the NDT. He would not go after anything if someone else was already going for it.

    He also feels brighter and lighter in his energy.

    Bea, oh my. When I brought Bea home at the age of 8 wks. she was flea infested, dug holes, grumpy growled if you picked her up, barked and vocalized A LOT, took four mos. to house train for urine (Colt took 48 hrs. at 7 weeks), didn’t listen to anyone but me for mos and mos. I always said that Bea was the most doggish dog I have ever had.

    Over time all of this calmed down. This week she is barking again and she has dug five holes in the backyard. Last night she grumpy growled when I pushed her off the bed when she wouldn’t get off when I told her to. The dogs have been off the bed for three nights now and Bea had jumped up and was looking to connect. I had stroked her and rubbed her belly and ears and then said Off Bea. She wasn’t going anywhere. So I gently pushed her and she grumped. She flomped down on her bed with her ears back, looking generally miserable.

    Bea likes to be close to me. Not simply in a snuggly way. Just close. Bea is a purpose bred dog and shows lots of talent and ability in the field with sheep. She was bred to partner up with a human and I am really happy to be that human. She is still very young and I think somehow I am not being there for her right now as much as she needs me to be. Like with Colt, we’ve been pushing for food food and playing NDT tug for over a week now and have been doing the box work for a couple of days.

    BTW, I am OK with all of this, as I have a hunch it’s part of the process for her, others are not. Stop the digging and quiet her down are pretty strong around here.


  11. Crystal says:

    One more thing.

    Thank you Kevin for putting your work out there like this. The change I am seeing in Colt so quickly is really quite extraordinary. I admit I do not trust it yet. I think is he just having a good week? Did he just pass though a fear stage? It almost seems to good to be true and everyone knows what that means.

    And yet he is doing things he NEVER did before this work.

    My mistrust aside if Colt could thank you right now, I am sure he would. We’ll keep on pushing!

  12. kbehan says:

    You’re doing great and I appreciate your generous comments. Remember, we-will-be-tested so when Colt gets stronger, new energy will come in through his “fault-line” and you will be tempted to interpret it as a setback when it is really an opportunity to heal something even deeper. So always be prepared and don’t interpret the dog as a person, it’s part of an energy system with a battery of latent energy that’s triggered by environmental circumstances and so it can look as if things come out of nowhere but this isn’t really the case. Finally, Colt and Bea have established an energy dynamic between them so when Colt shifts, Bea will shift to stay in balance with this and start occupying the polarities that Colt is vacating. So by doing the work with her, you will become the more powerful counterbalance and she can feed off of you rather than Colt and get into phase with your direction of flow. After a while you will achieve critical mass and thereafter nothing can go backwards, always drives forward.

  13. Heather says:

    It has helped me a lot to always be prepared with food and the bite toy for when those “opportunities” arise (it seems like common sense but I often would not take the extra few minutes to do that). This is for me as much as for the dog, because when I am able to direct things according to my Will, rather than interpret the dog as a person, I feel good too. It is healing Happy and me at the same time.

    Is it necessary to revisit environmental circumstances that were previous triggers? I have been doing that lately, e.g., I went back to the place of my major emotional breakdown a couple of months ago with the dog, and he did get charged up as we were leaving just as before. After speaking, and pushing, and tugging a bit (vigorous but a shorter session than I was expecting), Happy just sort of relaxed and dropped the bite toy and leaned against me and I leashed him up and we left.

    I still have the issue of having difficulty with Happy going up the ramp into the SUV. I have worked on this over the past few weeks and made some progress so that when there are two adults he chooses to go right up, but with one adult he often sits or lies down and won’t budge (even when he’s hungry – 2 days without his kibble and he was eating dirt but not going up the ramp for hamburger).

    I broke down and purchased steps, he is not afraid of stairs, they haven’t arrived but I want to start off doing the right things – any suggestions?

  14. Heather says:

    I moved the ramp all around the house, using it like a box, putting it on small inclines, etc., and he’s fine in different locations, even next to the car, until it reaches a certain incline and he balks at putting his back feet on it at the same time as his front feet when it is tipped up at that angle.

    He climbs over rocks, gets onto his grooming table when I put the lounge chair next to it to be used like a step, and jumps over fallen trees in the woods in a single bound, so I know it’s not a physical issue.

  15. Crystal says:

    Kevin and Heather you both say not to interpret the dog as a person. Are you talking about me saying he is becoming more confident?

  16. kbehan says:

    What happens is we reflexively turn a dog into a person in order to feel safe about making an emotional investment in the dog, thus we interpret its behavior as a function of its personality as in the dog likes this, or doesn’t like that, he knows this or he doesn’t know that but underneath all this is an energy equation (a group mind) that is really factoring out the dog’s behavior. So a dog could become emotionally stronger and yet paradoxically become more problematic because it’s now able to externalize what it had to date internalized. A dog supposedly “likes” someone and then goes after that person in another situation and it seems shocking. We also like to think that healing in the dog is a matter of learning something in one fell swoop and so we’re easily disappointed and lose heart. But if it’s put into an energy context the consistency to what’s going on becomes clear and this understanding guides someone to proper way of dealing and bring things to a full resolution. Hope this clarifies.

  17. kbehan says:

    When Happy perceives himself as object of attention, he balks because he feels he’s losing control. This is amplified with handler trying to encourage the dog, or plead, or cajole, etc. Rather, you can use biofeedback to reframe the situation into dog feeling in control and choosing to go up ramp. Begin with low sturdy walls and snug collar up tight, flat collar could work with Happy, and just increase upward pressure without saying anything. As dog becomes uncomfortable, he will have to do something and the only option will be hopping up on low wall. He might have a mini-panic attack which is purging the stress of being object-of-attention and will then it will fuel his desire to want to surmount such obstacles. Praise profusely once he’s on top of platform. Then next time find higher platform and so on until he’s hopping up good height that will make SUV ramp look minor. Don’t tell anyone how you’re training him, then take him to SUV, make a show of whispering in his ear, and with gentle upward pressure that no one notices, he’ll hop right in.

  18. Christine says:

    That’s interesting Kevin. A few years ago I took Bodie & Duncan to an agility class. Bodie was terrified of the ‘walks’. He’d shake so bad the whole piece of equipment shook to the point we were afraid he would shake himself off! So we decided to eliminate that piece and worked on other equipment. Bodie decided, all on his own and during the same class, to “surmount the obstacle” and he took the tallest walk. We weren’t paying him any attention at the time and were blown away at what he did. It was never a problem after that and he would willingly go up and over the tallest walk.

  19. Heather says:

    Thank you, Kevin. I can see that this is what is happening. With the two people he probably doesn’t feel as much an object of attraction because one simply lifts up on his collar and the other puts a hand under his belly (so he doesn’t plant his butt on the ground), and he quickly chooses to go up the ramp without a problem, then gets lots of praise and treats.

    I feel like an idiot today – I had to take him to the vet and actually got him into the back seat of the car afterwards without making him the object of attention (he usually goes in the tailgate of the car, and balks in a parking lot, not at home, so I tried the back seat this time). So after I started the car, I realized that the door was ajar, so went to open/shut it, and when I opened it I didn’t realize he was lying against the door, and he tumbled bottom-first back into the parking lot. At that point I had to call the vet to get someone to help me, and of course Happy was not at all thrilled, but we just got him back in without any bribing or pleading.

    So I have to find myself some platforms pronto 🙂

  20. Heather says:

    Isn’t it interesting that when no one was looking at Bodie he did it…he must’ve had that panic attack as Kevin mentioned the first time, purged his stress over the walk, and felt compelled to do it after that.

    I really need to tackle this issue, it has always been an issue, but more on-again, off-again, sometimes Happy would go more readily than others, he would have a bad experience like his back foot slipping off (not as bad as falling straight out of the car like today, I could kick myself for that one) and we’d be back to square one, then he’d get more confident. I do think that he has never really had the “drive” to do it, though, he has always hesitated and right in that gap is an unresolved struggle with me that is triggered, I feel that we can close that gap.

    We’ve closed the struggle/gap in so many areas, it’s amazing, and I never really realized that there was that struggle/gap, but over time I’m seeing Happy “plug into” me in different situations, doing what I want him to do without any commands or anything, it’s great, so we’ll get there.

  21. Crystal says:

    Not sure I turn my dogs into people in order to feel safe about making an emotional investment. It is the dogness of dogs and the horseness of horses that attract me to them. It is getting with that energy that I find so rewarding.

    I wouldn’t ever have thought that I determine behaviour in animals, dogs or horses, in terms of personality. In my experience any animal’s behaviour including humans, depends on so many factors both internal and external, i.e. windy, when they last ate, signs of stress, previous behaviour in similar situation, etc.

    I agree that underlying all emotion and behavior is an energy force. Must that negate “likes” and dislikes”? One can certainly like someone and still bite their head off in a moment of anger.

    I will stay the course regardless of what looks like regression in Bea. I agree wholeheartedly that so called negative emotions such as rage and anxiety are not and I believe I understand why the work takes time. I just wanted to be sure I was on the right track with her and wasn’t missing something.

  22. kbehan says:

    It’s really instinctual to turn the dog into a person, an archetypal human predisposition and part of our domestication as young children. If we think the dog is a self-contained intelligence, or that it learns according to our mental systems, then we are instinctually apprehending it, and this falls far below our intellectual grasp of its animalness, as endowed with a person-hood. At any rate, at some point this distinction will help you see more clearly Bea’s participation in the group mind and will play a role in how you train her, that’s the only thing to bear in mind. Keep On Pushing!

  23. Crystal says:

    Kevin you said, “If we think the dog is a self-contained intelligence, or that it learns according to our mental systems, then we are instinctually apprehending it,” OK I think I get that,

    but I don’t understand the next part “and this falls far below our intellectual grasp of its animalness, as endowed with a person-hood”.

    What do mean falls far below? I assume by intellectual grasp of animalness you mean our intellectual construct of what we perceive as dog?

  24. kbehan says:

    Right, sorry to be so obtuse. Intellectually most of us understand that the dog is an animal that evolved from wolves, or from village dumps, and so on. But instinctively on a much deeper level we’re hardwired to convert the dog into a person, just as we do the weather or any force that can affect how we feel, and this is so we can negotiate with it. For example, I think this is what gave early man the idea of human sacrifice to appease the angry God of their cosmology. Such a negotiation makes sense to the instinctual intellect. Another example of what I mean happens when we step on our dog’s foot and then we apologize to it (and who doesn’t?), but nevertheless this reveals that the dog is a person to us in our instinctive mind. At any rate, this is the filter we have to get through to fully apprehend the dog’s mind as an energy circuit, and it can be done if we learn to “see” by feel, since our feeling mind is an energy circuit. Hope this clarifies.

  25. Crystal says:

    I think I understand now. It is interesting to me that in my ten years with horses I naturally worked by feel. I rarely talked to them, since it is my body that communicated everything whether I was working astride or in hand or at liberty. I did talk to praise and sometimes calm, but everything else I asked for with my body and my energy according to feeling where each individual horse was at at any given moment.

    I don’t know why it had not occurred to me to be this way with my dogs. Maybe because the dogs are in my environment and are with me when I am doing so much else, not just working with them.

    I read your clarification just before I had to drive downtown and so had time to ponder and yes, I see that I personify a lot with the pups. I have been using language for most of my work and play with them, expecting them to understand which of course they appear to very well.

    I wonder why I find it harder to “feel” of the dogs. Do you think people can be attuned to one animals energy more naturally? I would say that I understand horses. They make complete sense to me. Dogs, not as much and yet they are as important to me as the horses.

  26. kbehan says:

    I believe dogs trigger the absolute deepest levels of our emotional battery, the place where we feel the most powerless and which is the root source of our personality as a defense mechanism. So our relationship with a dog perfectly parallels the development of our personality and how it impinges on our temperament’s capacity to process energy. Therefore the tendency to personify a dog involves a deep subconscious process on which our sense of security is based. Meanwhile a horse is such a pure expression of bodily, physical energies and temperament’s capacity to channel energy that we can more easily attune to it from a place of awareness.

  27. Heather says:

    Kevin, I wondered for awhile if you were a trained Zen master who trained dogs. There is Zen teacher in San Diego, Charlotte Joko Beck, she has some great books, and she often puts things (regarding people, not dogs, although in the end it’s about people too) in similar terms as you do.

  28. kbehan says:

    That’s a high compliment I appreciate greatly. But my only trainers have been dogs and studying them as creatures of the immediate moment, and then linking the dynamic they make vivid into my own construct of reality and emotional experience. In a way that’s akin to a wakeful practice of Zen. The distinction may be however is that I am studying it on the plane of the Will, rather than on the Spirit, the former being the level on which I believe is what we are to understand about the nature of animals.

  29. christine randolph says:

    haha get the bite out and the zen in.

    this is becoming a very long comment chain.
    maybe we need to redirect ?

    it really sucks that i do not have any major problems with my dogs i need help with. i feel left out.

    I do think ramps create fear for dogs, especially if they bounce a little. Heather does your ramp bounce ? also for a newfie it has to be a wide ramp. i remember my friend’s bernese hind leg often falling off the ramp at agility. for trials, they have to be a standardized width.
    they are very narrow for a large dog, their hips are way wider than the width of the walk. it looked scary when the dog’s leg would slip off and she would be hit by the edge of the ramp into the upper leg joint.tummy.

    apparently hind leg awareness can be improved for dogs, there are certain ways to train it, i.e. front legs on a stool and reward for any movement of the hind legs. (I never really believed that but many trainers say so.)

    My little dog would go to a certain point on the ramp, then jump off.

    I think she either feels she is too high or too wobbly. or both. whatever it is, the desire to jump off becomes very strong as it seems.

    sometimes i think – when we want a dog to go to a certain area and put lots of treats there, they get hell bent on NOT doing it. it is also a very stagnant, mexican standoff, which seems counter productive to the feeling of “working together”.

    occasionally it is OK to wait them out and see how long they can keep up their passivity.

    sometimes when i am in such a stale mate position (and i do not have the luxury of waiting because the dog might not be contained etc), it helps to play, run and roughhouse with them and then, when they are excited and happy and their has started flowing, take them to the “scary” location and they might just be in a positive mode and will just take it in their stride.

    it seems to me that a fearful dog temporarily loses a lot of its fear when it runs fast…and if it is also very hungry, good things can happen…

    i think we anthropomorphize dogs more than other animals because their faces are almost exactly the same size as humans’. the eyes are also very similar in size and shape.

    if more people had chimpanzees as pets, instead of dogs, they would be even more anthropomorphized i am sure.

  30. Crystal says:

    Oh good lord. WILL?! That explains everything.

    Horses for me are very much a spiritual/physical journey. I was very aware of the Zen in horsemanship. I couldn’t figure out why I have moved on to dogs with these two collies of mine. I have hardly ridden this year. It has been almost painful to be away from the horses and yet it is what I have done.

    Kevin wrote: “So our relationship with a dog perfectly parallels the development of our personality and how it impinges on our temperament’s capacity to process energy.”

    I get it now. Oh damn! Anyone want two collies?

  31. Heather says:

    yes, I wasn’t trying to take anything away, on the contrary – it is just fascinating how at a fundamental level, there is a shared premise, the “enery of emotion”. Zen practice (at least as Joko Beck describes it) is about how people can do the work to filter out all the thought-related stuff and just be the energy, which is what connects everything – dogs are of course doing that naturally (I guess we are too but just have an enormous amount of defensive/personality stuff). So you are providing us with the understanding to really see the energy at work in nature/dogs. It’s been really excellent that the internet enables these connections to be made between things I would not have thought to be connected.

  32. christine randolph says:

    i am not sure if Zen has not maybe failed to provide a workable framework for our lives.

    during my recent visit to Japan I learned that the local monasteries are closing down or are made into tourist attractions only, westerners do not beg to stay there any more…

    conversely, buddhism is reported to be the fastest growing religion in British prisons, as well as in Australia, which strangely seems to prove my point that Australians behave in many ways as though they were still in a British prison colony…

  33. Heather says:

    Hi Christine, You are right about the ramp folded all the way out being too bouncy. We worked on a low ledge today, that went well, I need to find one a bit higher but not too high.

  34. christine randolph says:

    Heather I guess for a dog, especially a heavy and big dog it has to be considered healthy self preservation to not go on something bouncy like that.

  35. Heather says:

    The steps arrived, to replace the ramp. THe good news is that Happy is not afraid of going up and down the steps by himself, he has done it 10+ times in and out of the back of the SUV. The bad news is that he still won’t go when I ask him to, ie, when I need him to get in because I am taking him somewhere.

    I am not able to be effective with the pulling up on the collar technique (except on low platforms when it’s more of a direction/suggestion than making him uncomfortable). I am uncomfortable with giving him that choking sensation, and he must sense that hesitation. Since this is my issue I may be stuck with the on-again/off-again getting in the car.

    One thing that worked well was playing/pushing/tugging with him all around the yard, getting him tired and thirsy, and placing his water bucket in the SUV – he went right up for that. Perhaps some playing/bonding before car rides will help get his “drive” up to get into the car.

  36. Heather says:

    Ironically, he is great getting in his exercise pen, and in his crates, he runs right in.

    One thing he really loves is when I let him enter and exit the house through the front door, which means that along the way to and from the door, he can explore the usually-off-limits parts of the house, which are especially good cat-hunting grounds. I have only being doing this recently, as he is now leaving stuff that isn’t his (anything except chews, which I hide in various places for fun) alone.

    Maybe if I save the front-door privileges for when he gets in and out of the car–at first just drive around the block, then return to let him in the front door and repeat that a few times in a row. Perhaps he would come to feel that getting in the car means that at some point he will be let out of the car and back into hallowed hunting grounds.

  37. kbehan says:

    Be sure that you’re not asking him to get in and also don’t wait until you have to go somewhere to create the imprint. I think it might have been Monty Roberts who said of getting a horse to do what he wanted, “If you act like you have all day, it’ll take 15 minutes, if you act like you have 15 minutes, it’ll take all day.” That’s good cowboy wisdom.
    By all means honor your discomfort, and don’t go further until you become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and then the following applies. To create the imprint, remember that energy comes from a state of conflict, and then the threshold of transition, such as the precipice of outside/inside the car, or being on or off of a raised platform, becomes a catalyst that generates energy in the dog’s psyche so that he can get into drive, and then the pressure on the high collar can be a drive trigger by itself. The best way to make conflict is with the dog feeling in control of the situation because it’s only trying to resolve a physically objectified problem. Put a pan of dog food up on a raised platform, a picnic table with attached bench seats would be perfect to help him connect the dots, and get up on the table yourself and slowly increase the pressure on the lead. If he’s hungry then he’ll quickly convert tight lead and the transition threshold into energy and the imprint will take hold. Eventually, he’ll hup on the table from the end without the aid of the bench seats.

  38. christine randolph says:

    i think Happy does not yet associate the car with going to cool places and seeing all kinds of animals and things from the vantage point of the car as you are driving along ?

    so i guess once you have him in the car a small trip through a neighborhood where many dogs are being walked, to an interesting place where he can get out a few minutes and smell new smells ?

  39. kbehan says:

    That’s a good point. Happy is a young dog and a slow maturing breed at that and many dogs take a while to enjoy car rides.

  40. Heather says:

    I think he enjoys it once he’s in the car. We live in a rural area that is at least 15-20 minutes from everywhere we go, so by the time we get from A to B he is usually asleep. Perhaps that time/distance is muddling up the associations.

    This morning I was getting ready to go somewhere, so I set up the steps and ignored him, he ran right up the steps into the back of the SUV – twice – the second time I closed the door then after a few minutes let him out and ran around and played with his bite toy then put him back in the house.

    So it’s progress in the right direction. I’m still unsure of what will happen if I take him somewhere though – immediately my thoughts go to being stranded. So that tells me that I should not take him anywhere, I need to noodle around with this issue myself to get more clarity or I am guaranteed to end up stranded with a dog who won’t get in the car.

    I was thinking about how important it is (in life in general, but especially when dealing with dogs) to have calm faith that the course of action you have chosen is the right one, that is maybe more important than anything (well, maybe not more important than actually being correct, but assuming a functional moral compass). Otherwise there is holding back/fear that creeps in, and then at least for me it is best to do nothing until I get more clarity. If I do something in a state of mind when I’m holding back, even if the result is what I wanted, it just increases my fear the next time (hey, euphobia at work!)

    It’s easy to turn away from things that don’t work once it becomes clear what the right thing to do is – I am just slowly learning that if I’m confused or unsure about something, even if I understand it intellectually, I have not reached the point where I understand it by “feeling” it. Eventually it will fall together and I’ll understand it, feel it, then no matter what comes up it’s not a problem.

  41. Heather says:

    I think this is what happened with the jumping/biting issue. I don’t “think” of it as a problem anymore because I can “feel” things better – not that his behavior is 100% different – just that things flow along smoothly as they come up, and aren’t punctuated in my mind by moments of confusion/disconnection. I am not worrying “what if this happens, what if that happens” sort of thing, which is a red flag about the car issue.

  42. Christine says:

    Good comments, Heather. They actually helped clarify a few things for me and the puppers (I should say me and Duncan). I engage in that kind of thinking with him, “What if this/that happens” regarding his lunging/biting at people. Your comments above were full of “little gems” for me. 10-Q!

    BTW, Duncan is so much more calm, relaxed and happy now. He invites play with me when we are in the back yard…even with a favorite bone! It feels very much like he wants to flip polarity with me and works to make it happen. 🙂

  43. Heather says:

    Hi Christine, It’s good to know that other people are having similar experiences! At times I feel alone out here doing things a little different, eg, I notice a lot of raised eyebrows if I play tug with Happy in public, or praise him while he’s lunging at the end of his leash toward another dog or person, followed by giving him food and playing with him! Seeing how calm/content he is when he knows he can give me all that energy makes it very easy to let go of the what-if worries, and the worries about what other people are thinking.

  44. Christine says:

    That’s my goal this summer, to work the puppers in public areas the same way you do with Happy. I have a good chunk of the summer off so I will be able to focus on them and it will be easier to feed them only for pushing. I like the way you’ve lined it up (i.e. praise, push for food and play) I’ll use that sequence with Duncan. Diva will be different as her issues are fear/timidity. So I guess the sequence could be the same only time it would be timed for when she’s closest to people or when she approaches them. Usually they are off-lead down at the canoe portage so when Diva tries to beat feat I call her excitedly and run away. Then, when she comes to me I reward with praise and push-for-food. The first time I followed this sequence with her I had to do the pushing out-of-sight of people. However, the next time she would push-for-food with them in her sight and she was bolder at approaching people. Still with some trepidation and she doesn’t usually make physical contact but I’m confident that will come.
    I do have more good news regarding Duncan’s progress but I will save that for another post!

  45. christine randolph says:

    haha ! Raised Eyebrows ! i get reports to the spca because my dog’s foot actually touched a small amount of someone’s (unfenced) front lawn….

    if you are worried about Happy getting back into the car after a ride and a walk, it would be good to take him somewhere where you can walk back to the house, so, only half a mile or so, and if that ends up working and he is not recalcitrant about getting back in the car, you will be more confident taking him further away.

    Next step, you could go visit someone’s house who has a fenced yard where Happy can stay for a bit. at the end of the visit if he does not want to get in the car, you could pretend you are taking off without him,. Just say Bye Bye I am leaving, start the car, drive around the corner.

    stay away 5 minutes, and when you get back to that person’s house, I bet he will do just about anything. plyable.

    My dogs sometimes do not want to get back in the car when they think they are owed a longer walk.

    Some years ago, after a sled dog race in which Josie did not participate, so she had to sit around for 2 days, I did not walk her much those 2 days, very busy.

    on the way home she got away from me at a side-of-the-road mini stop which turned into a 1 hour walk for her because it took that long until she finally decided she had tortured mom enough and would now hop back in the car.

    It would have been nice if I could have had her run by the side of the car for 10 minutes at 20 mph, that would have been enough, but that was a busy highway with semi trailers at 100 km per hour…..

    Kevin is right, you have to pretend to have all the time in the world sometimes, and sometimes it is not just pretending, you REALLY do need that time on occasion.

    and if getting home an hour later, in the dark, instead of nice and comfy during daylight hours, would not have been enough punishment for letting Josie get away…

    after I got Josie back that day, it was almost night, the snow started falling and I had to drive Very Slowly for a couple of hours over a steep mountain pass through a blinking snow storm…at night…

  46. Crystal says:

    Hi Kevin, et al,

    I had just written this long post updating how wonderfully Colt has been doing. How he has continued to be more self assured and how tug between he and Bea has become a stalemate in most instances, and how he has stood up to a couple of dogs who really got in his face while he was chasing his ball. Couple of boxers who had been jumping on him and tag teaming him for about five minutes when suddenly Colt said enough is enough. Sharp, quick and clear. He has never done anything like this before NDT. The whole family is happy for him.

    Now the whole time I was writing, Colt and Bea had been weaving in and out of the office reminding me it was walk time in very polite ways until Colt went under the desk and stepped on the power bar button and I lost the whole thing!! Me thinks I should stop the NDT now!

    So I am back from the walk and yes, Colt is a happy critter these days. Very happy. Light, up and outgoing. He is more vocal, but in a woofy kind of way. Not much charge at all and he is so easily called away from the bark object.

    Bea continues to become more fluid in her energy and has calmed down considerably this week, but I do have an area of concern that I would like to help her with.

    Bea has always been a growly puppy. Thus the name Bee which I spell differently. She grrrs like a little motor. Not a warning or menacing growl. She does it at play. Running after Colt, playing tug with him or us.

    When she came to us at 8 wks of age she would do this when we picked her up if play was becoming too rough in the house. We called her a tasmanian devil. Growl and squirm rambunctiously. (Bea’s breeder family had a 5 yr. old girl who played with Bea lots who was severely ADHD and would scream and squeeze Bea when she got excited. I figured Bea’s tasmanian devil act got her free when this happened.)

    We did not put her down when she did this. We would hold her and stroke her from her head to her tail until she relaxed and sighed and then we put her down to resume play. We soon put a word on this: Chill and I could simply say Chill pups and they would relax and stop the zooming. I also could say take it outside and they would and do.

    A couple of times people at the park told me they had never seen such a young pup be so “aggressive”. 3-4 mos. Bea would growl at some big dog that was jumping on her, trying to take her ball. Her hackles would go up and most of those dogs would back off or if they didn’t she would snark at them and then they did. I admit I thought Whoa brave pup, but I also wondered if she would grow up to be “aggressive”. Far from it. She has more manners with other dogs than most other dogs I meet and she is playful. She will share all toys with all people and dogs. Just don’t let a dog highjack her for it. I have never seen her resource guard anything. Except maybe me once when a golden retriever jumped on me repeatedly while the owner laughed and said she likes you. I had told the dog to “off” nicely a couple of times and finally Bea a 1/4 of the size of that dog went at her. I called her off and she immediately went back to swimming with Colt.

    Bea has never been interested in anyone she doesn’t know patting her. However this past week she has actually been fine when a couple of people have reached out for her. She has sat down and even wagged her tail, but when they stop she has barked in a not so good way. Very tense. Although Bea is as sweet and good natured as Colt 90% of the time she can have an edge to her with strangers that Colt has never had, even when he has been very anxious.

    Thoughts? Suggestions for handling this?

    I keep asking myself what it is in me that both my dogs have anxiety or mistrust of strangers. I am a very congenial person who enjoys my little meet and greets on the trails. I’m actually one of those people in life that people talk to and I am known as a good person to work with so, what gives?

  47. kbehan says:

    Bea is the polarity that you identify with, and Colt is the polarity you align with. Meanwhile our personality is a self-defeating logic loop since it is our defense toward others. So while your personality is open, pleasing and adaptive, you can see that a deeper part of you is bristling as manifested by Bea. The judgments against the dog’s aggression (consider what thoughts are triggered) are how you can trace it all back to the acquisition of said judgment and then decide if you still want to carry on with it. Working with Colt’s “rage” allows you to align with being aligned. Hope this is clear.

  48. Sang says:

    Similar with me Crystal. Anyone you speak with who knows me or encounters me will tell you that I’m happy, open, pleasant and nice to be around. But in reality, my pleasant demeanor and openness with people actually masks the fact that on a deeper level, I’m very much the introvert and actually have a high resistance to people and social situations and encounters. Being nice and friendly is just my coping mechanism… personality. Of course this manifests itself in my dogs in that my one dog Jackie, the one who mirrors my personality is very likable, easy to be with, gets along well with people, etc, though she’s still not what one would consider “outgoing”…..while my other dog Roxy, is very resistant to trusting people, barking and lunging at strangers, acting out my deeper, true feelings, reflecting who I really am.

    Dogs always show us who we really are, even the parts of ourselves we don’t want to see.

  49. Heather says:

    “Working with Colt’s “rage” allows you to align with being aligned.”

    I don’t understand this point, would you mind clarifying what it means to align with a dog, and what it means to align with that?

  50. Crystal says:

    Ok, Kevin and Sang, I can own that.

    Kevin I do need clarification on two points.

    You said: “The judgments against the dog’s aggression (consider what thoughts are triggered) are how you can trace it all back to the acquisition of said judgment and then decide if you still want to carry on with it. ”

    Not sure what you mean here. Are you talking about my judgement of aggression as a negative? I do understand that sometimes aggression is warranted and so can be a good thing, but it can also be a dangerous hurtful thing and so I need to protect Bea from acting out in an “aggressive” way that could hurt someone. Isn’t this the idea behind getting the bite out?

    And you said: “Working with Colt’s “rage” allows you to align with being aligned.”

    Align with being aligned? Don’t understand.

    I am really enjoying NDT and the relationship it is giving me with my pups. I think I’m starting to grasp more of the theory. There is a wonderful article by Bernherd Mannell I found on the net.

    Is it a crazy idea to want to do Shutzehund work with Colt? I actually think he would be really good at it. I had thought about SARS work because he spends so much time with his nose to the ground and in the air. One of his favorite games is for me to hide something with my scent on it in the tall grass field. He has also been the easiest dog to train obedience wise. Colt actually fits so much of the puppy criteria Mannell looked for.

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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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