Physical Center of Gravity

The physical center of gravity is the kernel of a dog’s self and a dog’s sense of it is activated by external forces and sources, specifically when dealing with other beings, it is activated by eye contact. This is because a state of attention is composed of two beams, the external focal gaze by which the dog looks outward, and also an internal subliminal beam by which the dog looks inward on the body’s physical center of gravity. These two beams are inseparable from any state of attention since mastering the mechanics of motion to get things the dog wants is the primal imprint it absorbs in the first weeks of life. Whatever a dog wants, becomes imprinted onto its physical center-of-gravity during the early phases of life, and this imprint is the basis of every social interaction thereafter and is subsequently reinforced. The body mechanics of locomotion become the template for complex social interactions. (This may seem hard to believe, but I read somewhere that the sensory systems related to physical motions are the sensory basis for the human conceptualization of time. Piaget posited that a child first understands time as a function of a physical distance to be traveled. Likewise a dog’s apprehension of another being is first and foremost a function of that being’s movement and orientation around its physical center of gravity.)

Thus, when another being looks at a dog, this stare travels into and within the dog along the track of this subliminal beam, the force of attraction between them amplifying its strength in the dog’s consciousness so that the dog experiences being the object-of-attention just as if a physical force has displaced its physical center of gravity. The object-of-attention feels knocked off balance and this stimulates the dog’s central nervous system. (This is why dogs are electrified by the sound of their names. It’s because our focused energy when we say their name is synonymous with our stare and doubles up exponentially on the strength of the subliminal beam of attention.)

The dog perceives being looked at (or called) just as if it is being pushed, just as if its mother is knocking it over and rolling it around on the ground. It’s a force of accelleration, a degree of momentum that demands a terminus. And because its body/mind is constructed so that the electro-chemical pressure in its Big-Brain has to be digested in its little-brain wave function, it also feels a pull towards that which knocked it off balance. So the dog climbs up into the lap of Christine on the couch to get as close as possible to her eyes and then licks her lips and face for the bodily essence (tears/saliva) that is an emotional ground for the sensation of displacement caused by eye contact. Thus a dog can satisfy being pushed off center by being pulled toward a beings’ essence. This will of course trigger regurgitation in the adult wolf toward the cub that mobs it, but this isn’t why the cub is attracted (initially) to the adult’s mouth.

Furthermore, when the dog’s physical center of gravity is displaced by being the object of attention thus creating a “force” of attraction, the dog will necessarily experience resistance as it attempts to ground out this energy of attraction. (Even if it merely must travel over smooth flat ground toward a willing recipient of its advances.)

It thereby acquires unresolved emotion as a physical memory of the experience.

Unresolved emotion as physical memory accretes around the physical center-of-gravity thus producing the “emotional center of gravity” {e-cog = p-cog + physical memory of motion} that is then projected onto complex objects of attraction so that the physical memory of experience is automatically projected onto the complex form of things, such as another dog.

If the hunger circuitry is stronger than the balance, then the dog will experience a magnetic state of attunement with the complex object of attraction.

But if balance is stronger, then there will be an electrostatic kind of interaction.

Thus the dog is projecting its “self” onto other things and if it can ingest its “self” by grounding out with this other being, then these two individuals can ultimately form one “emotional body,” what we otherwise recognize as a profound emotional bond.

What’s amazing is that the kernel of a dog’s self is immaterial, it doesn’t actually exist, there’s no physical center-of-gravity organ or structure, we can’t ask a doctor to surgically remove our center mass, not to mention that it can move anywhere in the body therefore releasing via Pavlovian conditioning naturally produced opiates. Yet everything about an animal’s anatomy, physiology and neurology evolved in response to this immaterial kernel that constantly recapitulates in the animal’s body/mind to form complex social structures. The physical center-of-gravity is how consciousness interfaces with nature in order to organize life into a network so that new energy is continually added back into the network.

The most powerful and deepest physical memory of the physical center-of-gravity is in the deep gut/loin region because in the first days of life the rear legs of the newborn pup were a useless drag on forward motion, like an anchor the pup had to drag around. In adult life, this area will be the “pivot” point of the poised position so that the dog is free to go in any direction. This deep seated imprint is important since this region is proximal to the genitals and deep hunger pangs and these faculties of arousal will be the means of aligning magnetically (sensually) with complex beings later in its life.

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Published June 24, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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27 responses to “Physical Center of Gravity”

  1. Heather says:

    “Unresolved emotion as physical memory acretes around the physical center-of-gravity thus producing the “emotional center of gravity” {e-cog = p-cog + physical memory} that is then projected onto complex objects of attraction so that the physical memory of experience is automatically projected onto the complex form of things. If the hunger circuitry is stronger than the balance, then the dog will experience a magnetic state of attunement with the complex object of attraction. But if balance is stronger, then there will be an electrostatic kind of interaction.”

    Thank you for the article, I can’t recall if you had explained the realtionship between e-cog and p-cog/physcial memory before, but now it makes sense!

  2. christine randolph says:

    those diagrams are GREAT !

    and also the idea that there are inward and outward processes going on when eye contact is established.

    I never thought much of the eye contact exercises I was made to do in class until I found Kevin Behan’s theories !

    I got lost when the “dog’s physical center of gravity is displaced by being the center of attraction…”

    I think I understand that the dog feels attraction and repulsion at the same time whenever a prey situation or new situation occurs. and it also feels that it is in the “lime light” of attention from another being ?

    that also would create a state of imbalance.

    (so if the moose ignores the dog, the hunt never happens ? )

    then in a process of decision making inside the dog the big brain activates the little brain.

    and in the end depending on various factors, i.e. hunger levels, the dog makes the actual decision whether to engage in this emotional bond, or not (jump up or recoil), depending on how hungry they are ? even if they are scared and even if they cannot see food.

    hence a hungry dog can take a lot more risks to survive.

    I am not sure if that is what you are saying.
    got lost after the diagrams stopped…

    now about the unresolved tensions which form memories around the center of gravity which are then projected to the outside world.

    do those become our well known action patterns, i.e. heretofore unknown problem resolution strategies which are as we know learned and re-utilized by dogs ?

    and the generalizations they can form from prior learning, the beginning the dog only sit.stays in the kitchen, in the end it sit.stays everywhere.

    i sense that they are not “unresolved” but resolved and not fixed by modifiable by new learning. i.e. the dog picks up pencils first and later, dumbbells.

    or how does the projection of self and digestion of self actually become materialized in what the dog does ?

    does the dog form emotional relationships with the pencils it picks up, or the agility equipment it uses ?

    (i think so but i am not sure your theory says that)

  3. Crystal says:

    So it all goes back to the fear of falling?

  4. Crystal says:

    Kevin, not knowning an appropriate place to ask a couple of questions for this “Stump” section I am putting them here. Maybe you will move them? Nothing important, but a couple of things I am very curious about.

    1. My dogs often, very often, OK, almost ALWAYS lie in the same position when they sleep. So if one is curled with head tucked under paws, so is the other, if stretched out with back paws crossed and front left paw bent, so is the other with the exact same paws crossed and bent. If one of them shifts a body part within a minute or so the other one will. They can be lying across the room from one another and they still do this. My whole family is fascinated by this and we have always wondered what is going on.

    2. If we have balls or sticks on our walks Colt will take care of both of them. If he sees that Bea is about to leave her stick or her ball after a sniff session he will run over to her stick/ball and toss it a little ways so that she picks it up again. Then he retrieves his own and off they go until she leaves hers again, rinse and repeat, forever.

  5. kbehan says:

    1) This speaks to how a dog or animal is first and foremost an electromagnetic dynamo, and so because they are so attuned, they are like bars of steel with a magnetic imprint thus aligned within a magnetic field. You can also see this when dogs are first interacting, they become the equal and opposites, one up one down, one bending one way as in concave, the other convex, they are becoming counterbalances within the field so that they can get to that state of alignment within an overarching field, which your house represents for them.
    2) The balls and sticks are extensions of their beings and so when a dog feels grounded into the other by way of the object in its mouth, then it can feel incomplete when an “essence” is left behind. I like to refer to the Terminator movie when the advanced molten cyborg could retrieve its essence that leaked out and would return to the source. The essence wants to pool together, it transcends form.

  6. kbehan says:

    The nexus of balance and hunger is the physical center-of-gravity given that when in the poised position, the p-cog resides in the gut/loin region and so directly affects the hunger/sensual centers. So if a dog can hold onto that deep seated feeling in its gut, in other words if it can maintain its reference on the little-brain, then when the p-cog travels around within its body, that particular region of its body is sensualized, rather than sensitized. This way it wants to be touched in that particular spot, and this is how dogs know which part of their body to present to another so that it can make a positive form of contact. This also means that the simple primal hunger for contact can be displaced from a simple oral urge, to a far more complex physical means of orienting. i.e. via a sensual/supple style of body language. So yes it all boils down to a fear of falling, if that sensual little-brain orientation begins to collapse. But when the feeling of grounding is strong enough, a state of emotional suspension or weightlessness is achieved and then a loss of balance is thrilling, which is why we say “falling in love.”

  7. kbehan says:

    An amazing video that I would interpret this way. Every organism wants to ingest the essence within the form of anything. When the object of resistance (the form of the thing) is upside down, in that state of vulnerability (note that the undersides of most animals/fish/birds are light i.e. prey-colored) then the access channel is open and the tortoise was getting the emotional signal to try to penetrate to the essence. Thus, it drove into the upside down form and this happened to make it upright. For me the salient moment is after the tortoise was righted, the second tortoise remained animated to sustain contact and kept following it as it hadn’t yet gotten to the essence, which in general I would suspect only happens between tortoises during spawning situations.

  8. kbehan says:

    I should also add so as to be more germane to Lee’s point, that the tortoise must therefore be capable of emotional projection as are mammals, therefore the upside down form of tortoise makes the observing tortoise feel upside down internally as well, therefore displacing its sense of equilibrium and therefore, animating it to want to drive into to it to get to its essence and ground out its sense of disequilibrium. Some may protest that this is a mechanical explanation and feel robbed of the more romantic interpretation, but I would say the exact opposite is the case. If we were to recognize the mechanical aspect of what’s going on, we ultimately recognize that the highest social virtues are already embedded in the nature of emotion itself. This is a far more sublime interpretation of nature than the romantic view which then causes us to think of such amazing interactions as rare miracles of nature rather than as the everyday stuff of emotional alchemy which is always going on around us, most especially in our dogs, but which we miss because of our romantic desires for the way we want to think of nature.

  9. Christine says:

    It’s a shame to be missing out on all that day-to-day magic, which does not make it ordinary at all only more extraordinary that it can recur so reliably! This should encourage us to be careful observers and to concentrate on the here-and-now (immediate moment) instead of always pushing to get to what’s coming next…a cerebral way of saying, “Stop and smell the roses” I suppose! lol

  10. christine randolph says:

    so, the reason why humans are not very good at ingesting the essence of something is that they have too much of a sense of self, which leads them to be too romantic and cerebral to “get it”.
    yes that would explain some of the many shortcomings of the human race…too evolved one way, stuck in the Stone Age in so many other ways.

    I have a friend who keeps saying whoever made humans has long ago abandonned the experiment due to the species’ unacceptable flaws…

    so potentially a guy who throws himself on a hand granade to rescue his mates is ingesting the essence of the situation but not thinking, so he was not a hero because his higher social functions did not make him do it. nor his emotional response to wishing well for his comrades ?

    he was like a turtle that saw another turtle upside down and felt the irrepressable urge to turn it over, for some non-altruistic, visceral lizard brain kind of a reason…?

  11. kbehan says:

    I resist the notion that there is anything wrong in our makeup or nature but I’m not arguing the point from a position of enlightenment, but from an intimate familiarity with dysfunction. The trick is to become conscious and I feel a good place to start in being able to understand our nature is by understanding the nature of animals. Yes, there is a “flaw” but in my view this is how new energy gets into the system. It’s the judgments against the flaw that make the results “bad.”
    The Big-Brain in the head is the faculty of separation and so because as intellectual beings we see our self as defined by our limits, we are self-conscious whereas animals are conscious. They have no sense of a self as separate from their surroundings, and the only way they can be aware of their self is by being 100% conscious of their surroundings. They connect with their self by resonating with their surroundings. Our intellect tends to keep us separate from our surroundings because it is most concerned with maintaining balance, putting everything into boxes as soon as possible, admitting confusion and keeping things open ended and letting something reveal itself in its own way and time is anathema to the intellect. What we call evil I think results from a Big-Brain fixation , there never seems to be anything wrong with the scheming capacities of the diabolical, their brains seem to working just fine.
    Your point is well taken that our intellect restricts our capacity to ingest the essences of things.
    I do believe however the heroic soldier is pure altruism because his self has become integrated with his comrades, he surrendered to the feeling of oneness rather than holding his self apart from others. This is a choice that such a person made in other moments unrecognized as such by others and by that person as well, only to at some point culminate in a defining moment, the choice isn’t made then and there, there was no time. So in my mind this idea of a collective self doesn’t minimize the heroism of that moment, I would be prompted to want to know about the smaller choices that made such an altruistic act possible.
    My study of dogs led me to understand them as social by nature because of their definition of what their “self” is, as part of a One. I sum it up with this expression, “the utter selflessness of abject selfishness.”

  12. christine randolph says:

    …pure altruism but resulting from what ?

    clearly not from a romantic notion of how he will sacrifice himself and his family will cry at his grave and future generations will learn in school about his deed and admire him.

    …resulting from a deeper connection, which humans cannot access unless forced to act without thinking.

    a connection many social animals can access easily, and they are not burdened by the (romantic?) idea of altruism…

    We cannot stop thinking but we can try to stop ourselves thinking in “romantic” notions. with us as the romantic heros at the center. I think it would help a great deal.

    I think with your criticism of that particular ROMANTIC tendency of the human brain, you hit the nail on the head.

    Hitler probably had this romantic idea of Germany’s future, sees himself as the pater familias of a beautiful blonde blue eyed master race frolicking in the foot hills of the Bavarian Alpes, Strength Through Happiness, Honour through strong Bloodlines.

    it is clear to the innocent onlooker that his dream is not connected to reality in any way shape or form, yet people were desperate enough to buy into it one way or another..

    I think there is lots wrong whith the brains of the diabolical, but their reasoning can seem very logical when they try to lure others in.

    I suspect they feel rewarded when they can make people buy into their deranged (romantic?) notions of the future, of the lives of future generations.

    the Part of the One aspect is strong in hinduism and buddhism, probably not a coincidence because it resonnates with those immediate connections we have inherited from our evolutionary ancestors and it seems to help keep a fast growing population (India) relatively peaceful…

    these religions also come up with stuff like, if you act altruistically, you feel really good as a result, (true !), and so you do it out of selfishness etc. etc.

    instead of giving access to the deeper connectedness which social animals clearly feel, these religions seem to induce a romantic notion of oneself as a selfless individual which is doing good deeds in the world due to his.her Connectedness to the One.

    so at a guess people with these notions are totally in their heads and NOT connected, which does not help solve the conundrum of why humans are so flawed and how they can be less so.

    It keeps people relatively quiet and happy with their lot…i.e. not critical towards the powers that be.

    the fact that this population in India is so fast growing is not altruistic so the Part of One aspect clearly is too simplistic to keep humans on a large scale, on the straight and narrow.

    anthropomorphizing animal behaviour also could fall in the category of “romance”,(my dog understands everything I say, he.she can read my thoughts etcetc) so, i think it is not desirable for many humans to just be with an animal on his.her terms.

    many get the most kicks out of anthropomorphizing and will not give it up.

  13. kbehan says:

    Altruism results from the nature of emotion, its innate properties and principles of movement, what I call the principle of emotional conductivity. An individual acquires stress as the inevitable consequence of expression emotion. No expression is a pure release unless the individual enters into a state of emotional suspension with another being. It’s a networked consciousness because an individual can’t access their physical center-of-gravity unless triggered by an external agent, and if that agent resists being ingested, then the only way to get to resolution is to align with that triggering agent toward an object of resistance which will bring them both to a state of mutual resolution. So when dog A meets dog B, and can’t get resolved unless B gets resolved. Hence sociability, and hence one emotional magnet and therefore altruism.

  14. elise says:

    this video too of a dog saving another dog in Chile….

  15. Burl says:

    Great tortoise and dog hero vids. Restores my faith in ‘good’ in creation.

    Kevin, I suppose some of your theorizing here falls under the ‘philosophy of action’ and perhaps specifically a sub=category concerning determinism.

    I am thinking of a term like ‘physiological determinism’ wherein the emotional response of an organism can (or one day will) be explained, likely by neurobiologists. Your ecog is in line with the postulations of researchers that the whole body forms the emotional system – it is not just in the brain.

    Many things go into how a dog might respond to a situation, like its upbringing, breed (genes), age, nervous/calm disposition, intelligence, degree of bonding to humans, etc.

    It is like the converse of what you say – we can understand them better if we see their similarities with us.

  16. Burl says:

    Dogs take in their environment differently from us (more olfactory vs visual, for one), and they have a more existential reliance on the more primitive mammalian limbic system (the emotions which we have in common w/ dogs).

    Still, we should not rule out their thinking capacity as another commonality. Granted we are vastly different here, mainly because we think in words, and presumably they are more picture oriented with thought. But they do have some reasoning that can overcome primal urges, and epigenetics tells us that they (and all higher creatures) are evolving as a species as they spend time w/ us.

    Dogs are constantly studying us and trying to communicate in any way they can. They put us in better touch with our emotional nature, but we enlarge their cognitive abilities that adds richness to their experience.

  17. kbehan says:

    Could you offer an example in a dog’s behavior of reason overriding a primal urge?

  18. I shouldn’t speak for Burl here, but it seems to me that what he’s talking about is a very interesting phenomenon, which is that dogs are one of only a handful of species capable of overriding their individual instincts in service of a group purpose. This ability is the key to the formation of wolf packs for the purpose of hunting large prey, and dogs have expanded on the wolf’s ability in this area exponentially.

    So while dogs exhibit impulse control in a way similar to what we see in human beings, it’s not that dogs use reason to do this; they use emotion and connection to a network consciousness. The network consciousness also explains Burl’s other comment about how we “enlarge their cognitive abilities.” It’s not that being around us makes dogs “smarter,” it’s that a kind of shared consciousness begins to emerge naturally from the relationships we have with our dogs.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it.


  19. Burl says:

    I like what Lee said,

    I mis-spoke very badly (anthropomorphized) with the word ‘reason.’ Not sure what they call it in operant conditioning. Maybe I should have said ‘learn from experience not to act a certain way.’ So I guess I mean formation of a memory-rule.

    What I was recalling is the story from “Through Merle’s Door” where Merle learns in two events never to chase calves – two abrupt halts via a choke collar and 50 ft. rope.

  20. kbehan says:

    Your sin of reason is forgiven. What I’m trying to show is that nature is rather straightforward, and to be honest I’m saving the guts of my model for the next book, but many of the elements are up on the website and in the NDT book, but there remains another dimension of heart I’m going to articulate and I trust some will find compelling. At any rate, learning in animals is reliving physical memories but in a way that is adaptive to the novelty of a new moment. Animals don’t actually learn, they remember. This is how evolution really works.
    We also should talk about “Merle’s Door” because he makes some profound errors and exploring these would be illuminating. When you are done with the book, if you care to, perhaps you might synthesize his thesis for us. Thanks.

  21. christine randolph says:


    yes humans make assumptions of similarity and thrive on it.

    this is why learning french and italian at the same time is super confusing because all of a sudden we have to focus on WHAT IS DIFFERENT in these seemingly similar systems.

    overgeneralizing is easy for us, difficult for dogs.

    in order to get to a relationship on the Dog’s terms it is more important to figure out what is different.

    we have to observe our dogs
    like what Kevin has done to come up with his theories.

    we have to try and figure out what REALLY makes them tick

    with our brains in “similarity” mode, we are constantly drawing the wrong conclusions. especially when it is also romantic similarity mode.

    i.e. I have a certain piece of food. I would bet 1000 dollars that every dog in the world would go to hell and back for it…

    i try to give it to my dog for a huge reward and the dog is not even hungry and does not want it,

    guess what, it is NOT a reward at that time.

    and then, how can we deal with this dog without freaking him.her out.

    dogs now are not automatically resilient to yelling and punishing, they way they used to be…

    this is in part because many breeders are not expected any longer to produce dogs who are super tough.

    although my agility trainer friend who wants to compete at a high level in agility is not happy that her breeder sold her a border collie that has collapse after exercise

    she is now 3 years old and the first border collie in canada diagnosed via blood test with collapse after exercise.
    (most often seen in labrador retrievers, where a genetic marker has been found)

    this dog is also extremely scared of loud noises, other dogs, dark corners, loud words issued by mom, etc. etc.

    she thinks she will be able to compete with this dog when the dog is older (5 or 6) but I do not think so.

    anyway, it has definitely opened her eyes to her students’ dogs’ fear issues !

  22. Burl says:

    Your readers can hear a synopsis from the author himself at Click Merle’s Door for some podcasts.

    I am only 100 of 600 pages (large print ed.). Kevin, what specifically would you alert me to as I go thru it?

  23. kbehan says:

    Hi Burl, I hit the wrong button on your last comment, delete rather than reply and don’t know how to restore it, so if you could post the Kerasote link again would be great. There are many self-defeating logic loops in his thesis, which bear mentioning since it’s a very intelligent and well written book and will shape many people’s minds. I’ll point out the largest one, on the one hand he’s saying we must honor the nature of dogs so that their innate intelligence can solve most problems for themselves, but then he’s determined to prove they think like us. Thanks,

  24. Burl says:

    Kerasote podcasts about Merle

  25. Christine says:

    There are some really great discussions going on here; I’m excited to see and read it all. I’m in Indiana tending to my brother so have missed a lot of the new threads. Kevin, I was wondering if it’s possible to minimize or shrink the larger drawings of flow charts above. They are quite helpful and it would be handy to have them as a visual but I’m having some difficulty printing them; can’t seem to figure out how to get the whole pic into a document. Anyway, love all the great new ideas flowing. I might have another Stump the Chump or A Chump when I’m back home. My brother’s minni aussie has some interesting behviors. Ta!

  26. Adam says:

    I’m still having trouble really feeling and understanding this line…
    “The dog perceives being looked at (or called) just as if it is being pushed, just as if its mother is knocking it over and rolling it around on the ground. It’s a force of accelleration, a degree of momentum that demands a terminus” Why don’t humans have this kind of reaction? It seems like we never really feel our p-cog disoriented in this way. Is it because we have concepts that guide us? As in we understand what the ground is, what up and down are…I’m trying to relate to how the dog feels…is it like being dizzy from spinning or the feeling of dropping on a rollercoaster?

    You also said that the p-cog can move anywhere in the body…is this the physical memory at work? As in the dog feels a certain area of his body stimulated and perhaps “gravitationally pulled” towards “the ground.” And this ground could be anything, as long as it brings stability to the situation? If you could give me a play by play example of how and why a dog would feel his p-cog in his shoulder or foot, or any place I guess that would be helpful.

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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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