Kevin Plays Tug with Laszlo

You can read more about the dog in this clip at the owner’s blog . Laszlo, the doberman in the video, was a rescue dog that

“upon adoption [he] instantly manifested all the most disturbing rescue-dog behavior problems you could conceive: unhinged aggression towards dogs, unpredictable edginess with people, jumping up, pulling like a sled dog on the leash, shoe-eating, leash-eating, wanting to eat the cat, wanting to bite our visitors, wanting to destroy the house…you name it.”

In this clip, Kevin plays tug-of-war with Laszlo.

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Published September 29, 2009 by Kevin Behan
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8 responses to “Kevin Plays Tug with Laszlo”

  1. Alec says:

    Does Lazlo lie down because he is unable to handle the energy he is experiencing? Also, why did you push in on him after he lied down the first time and then later you pulled away from him when he lied down? My dog also lies down when we play tug after a certain point.

  2. kbehan says:

    Yes. There is only one energy, so Laszlo had been corrected for his “bad” behavior and made to lay down but this put a crimp into his energy circuit altogether so when the energy gets too intense he lays down for safety. So I’m both pushing in to trigger his physical memory of these old blocks, but also whenever he makes an expression of energy, I soften and go back trying to encourage him to push into me rather than passively hold on or go into down/obedience mode. My body language is suggesting that I’m always about to go backwards if he just shows some energy, and so this releases the dog from that memory.

  3. Christine says:

    I found this video quite fascinating and had some of the same questions as Alec. I was also wondering if Lazlo was doing all the growling or if some of that was coming from you. I also noticed that, at one point when Lazlo was lying prone, that you put your hands on him. Was this the messaging strokes to help relax him or was there another purpose?

  4. kbehan says:

    I’m afraid I’m doing all the growling and heavy breathing. This transmits to Laszlo that I’m vibrating and hence things are ready to blow if only he’d persist. Basically I’m pressuring and confronting him enough to trigger his physical memory which throws him into obedience/avoidance/overload mode, however giving him an opening to express energy directly and actively, which is what he’s doing with the pulling back and shaking of the tug toy that I’m holding. However I’m keeping him on/lead so as to not give his old pattern the opportunity to reroute his energy into (reactive/indirect) personality mode in which case I’m just adding on to the pile. When he “collapses” into the down, I am giving him physical contact but a little too rough so that while not overwhelming since he can still perceive that there’s a bite object in play, isn’t allowing him to feel that this collapse is working. In other words, I’m putting more energy into him then this behavior can channel and that motivates him to become more direct and active. Hope this clarifies; thanks.

  5. Christine says:

    Okay, I get that. If I may press a little further, how would I use some of those “techniques” with my dogs? I have 3: 1 with no real issues”, a 2nd with anger management” issues and a 3rd with fear issues. How would I adjust this play activity to be most helpful with #2 and #3. #2 readily engages in the tug game but #3 is only tentative and will not persist.

  6. kbehan says:

    Well #3 needs to do some pushing for food so that it gets comfortable expressing energy in your presence. I put a soft fluffy toy on the end of a rope and get it to flick around as a beginning. Sometimes it can be a good idea to take this dog for a walk down a trail, and at the end of it ideally there is an open area at which point you produce a soft fluffy toy and fling it high. The compression of the trail, the expansion of the field, sometimes the juxtaposition of these two physical environments lead to a release of emotion and the desire to grab the toy. #2 I’m assuming makes a lot of noise when you’re doing tug/toy and so the focus has to be on calming this energy so that its body becomes a “clear channel” and this can be effected by giving him a bite and then running with him with the toy in his grip. The toy can be on a lead so that if he falters you can whip the toy out of his mouth and he will redouble his efforts to keep it.
    Ultimately you want their focus on the prey to become stronger than their fear or their anger and now you have a means to communicate to them how to feel when they are in provocative situations.

  7. Christine Randolph says:

    FUUUN ! why did I not think of this. my northern breed dogs like to take the toy and take off ! I WILL TRY THIS RIGHT NOW

  8. christine randolph says:

    its working real good. the dogs are very relaxed with a few play sessions per day

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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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