Kevin Behan and Natural Dog Training
5 Principles, 5 Core Exercises.
The following was written by Kevin Behan. I made a few edits.
At a conference in Indiana in 2013, Kevin Behan laid out the following:
(1) All behavior is a function of emotion. And all emotion is a function of attraction.
(2) When emotion can’t flow to a state of complete and utter satisfaction, then stress is acquired in the body.
(3) Stress—which is the physical memory of emotion that failed to run to “ground”—must be triggered by an agency as intense as the agency which caused its formation. (Emotional grounding is mediated by the hunger circuitry in the dog's body.)
(4) The acquisition of stress as a physical memory of emotional experience begets a more complex form of attraction and motive, i.e. attraction to the “negative” in order to convert stress back into flow so that it can be resolved. This is how nature improves according to the Constructal law.
(5) Stress becomes resolved when the subject and the triggering agency interact so as to manifest an emotional wave pattern akin to running at full speed, which itself is a pleasurable/anatomical/muscular wave pattern moving freely through the body.
The five core exercises—(1) playing tug-of-war (also called bite-and-carry), (2) barking on command, (3) massaging areas of tension in the body), (4) pushing for food, and (5) collecting the dog into a relaxed down—activate and strengthen that wave function so that the dog perceives momentum even when things aren’t moving, and even when the dog's stress has been triggered by an agency of intensity that previously elicited survival instincts.
The most practical benefit of teaching the heel, sit, down, stay, and the recall in terms of this wave pattern, is that lessons thus derived can be performed under duress because they emanate from the core, unlike lessons that are acquired through fine motor manipulation, such as clicker training and dominance obedience training.
My method with each and every dog, no matter the context, is to trigger the dog’s physical memories of unresolved emotion and then work to smooth them into a pure wave function through the 5 core exercises.
When unresolved emotions are triggered—and you don’t allow the dog to resort to old coping strategies via the freedom to exert themselves and dominate the dog’s range of responses—a dog will volunteer where it wants to be on the wave and how it is able to participate. The dog begins to feel in control of what is happening because this wave pattern is the very basis of the dog’s construct of reality. As a result it feels an immediate payoff of the triggering agency, which it responds to in via the wave pattern.
Some dogs might choose to lie down, some might bark, some will jump up or grab me with its jaws. My next move is to springboard off whatever opening is being offered in order to amplify the feeling—that wave that the dog is experiencing—which we can see building up within its body and then begins coursing through its physical movements.
The core exercises; pushing for food—barking on command—the bite and carry—rub-a-dub—and collecting; are central in Natural Dog Training methodology because each exercise enhances a specific dynamic within the overall wave template. And that wave is how two beings integrate. And integration is the only way unresolved emotion can be resolved.
That’s Natural Dog Training in a nutshell. And these principles and exercises can be tested by anyone willing to look at the behavior of dogs (or any animal) with an open mind, while at the same time resisting the urge to inject judgments or thoughts into what they’re observing.