Marrow Bone and Softness

When I deal with dogs afflicted with what other trainers term “resource guarding” (which in actuality is an instinctive “excuse” to vent held back energy, i.e. unresolved emotion) my method is to turn the object of friction, into an object of flow. I do this through Push-of-War. Whereas I’ve seen on the web some trainers wearing heavy gloves and letting the dog learn that biting is futile and then giving the dog food, and there is also the positive trade and switch out method so that the dog doesn’t perceive scarcity, there’s always more where that came from. Cesar does a clever move with blocking. But all of these approaches haven’t precisely defined the problem and can therefore still be building on a foundation of load/overload. I feel the approach I’m advocating directly accesses the flow dynamic by (a) triggering the held back energy that (b) the dog then marshals to overcome resistance and in the process softens. The dog changes its perception of the object because its relationship with its owner shifts in the same breath. The dog perceives more flow in making contact with person (Pushing With) than in growling, snarling and lashing out (Pushing Against) over the food bowl, resting place, bone or toy.

Of course it’s better to do this right from the beginning and imprint a puppy with flow rather than resistance creeping in and then letting instinct have its way. So when Hessian was young and in the middle of the training/channeling-of-resistance-into-flow regime, I gave him a whole chicken and asked him to push it to me. I wish I had taken a video. He pushed in with the same intensity with which he was about to crush it. After I released him he dove under a bush and ate it like a wild coyote, I swear his eyes turned yellow. Now Hessian is pushing 13 and has been a lazy farm dog for a number of years (my aim being to nurse as many days out of his frame as possible by a life of leisure). Today after giving him a marrow bone I asked him to push it to me to see where we were at. While I’m sorry about the camera work, I was happy to see how soft he still is.

Dogs want flow, that’s what they fight for. In their dealings with man, they either learn to push with us, or learn to push against us. It’s our choice. Keep On Pushin!

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Published February 10, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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3 responses to “Marrow Bone and Softness”

  1. Sundog Fitz says:

    I am so glad you posted this video Kevin. I have heard you talk about the Chicken Push of War and I could never really get a sense for what was happening. Coincidentally, just the other day my dog got snarly and possessive about a raw meat bone. She is not that way with any other food or toys or other “resource”, but it has happened three times now with the meat bone. I have been seeing major progress with her on all of the 5C’s so I am wondering if there is something in particular I can be doing to work on this or if I just stay patient and can expect that to soften up with the overall work we are doing?

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    I will post a video soon when I have a food guarding dog to film.

  3. b... says:

    I have some you can borrow 🙂
    5 minutes on a bully stick and they’re holding on for dear life. Been tying a rope to it, and praising to engender cooperation, per your earlier recommendation. So far, so good.

    One will give up the ‘guarded’ object for a tasty treat, so I’m interpreting that as hunger overriding balance concern and deeming the dog a good prospect for moving on to triggering DIS and getting bite+carry with more intense trigger (encroaching hand/foot).

    These videos are priceless. Thank you.

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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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