Here’s my first crack at the whole she-bang after almost a week here:
When I first asked Kevin, “where do you start and how to you progress when you begin to explain your model to people,” he said, “the pipe, the battery, and the dynamo.” Well, I’m going to attempt that here from everything I’ve absorbed this week, but I’m going to tinker with some headings to see if that helps me metabolize things a bit more. Granted, there’s nothing like chalk-talk with Kevin, and for those of you have met with Kevin either at his farm or at a seminar, you know what I’m talking about. Point being, there’s illustration that goes with this that I don’t have in this article so bear with me if you aren’t yet familiar with Kevin’s “artwork” :).
In the Beginning: The Pipe
Natural Dog Training allows us to be open to the blatant honesty that is inherent of nature: the dog is a predator. Now don’t get me wrong, in the sense that it is a predator we also realize that it is domesticated and evolved from the wolf to live in harmony with the human. Still, wolf and dog, and all nature for that matter, contain these primordial elements of the prey-predator dynamic. Having said that, the dog is a living, feeling, breathing pipe through which prey drive flows. The clearer the pipe, the more the dog flows and is in harmony with its surroundings. More specifically, it ideally would be in harmony with the human. If you start with a puppy who is not yet affected by stress he’s loosy-goosy, playful, and doesn’t quite have a maintained focus. He’s pure flow with a wide open, clear pipe.
The Battery: A Function of Emotion Relative to Resistance
As dogs and wolves begin to develop they encounter resistance, that is, stimuli that slow or inhibit prey drive/flow. In the wild the wolf encounters the resistance of covering the distance to and taking down a 1500 lb moose. By the same token resistance might come from the predatory gaze of the moose’s eyes, which is an example of mirroring back at the wolf what it feels inside toward the moose. The prey controls the predatory, not the other way around. In and out of the home, the dog encounters so many variables of resistance ranging from loud noises, the echoing of sound ping-ponging from wall-to-wall, and especially human behavior that consists of scolding, abusive hitting, overstimulation/understimulation, owner addiction by giving too much attention, saying “no”, and even training methods that either suppress the prey drive or avoid it altogether. Now, many of these things, especially the living environment, are unavoidable but the good news is that the intensity of some of these things can be minimized AND the dog can adapt to and deal with the resistance through NDT so that stress/energy is turned into information, or social behavior that fulfills the dog’s prey drive. And all of this comes down to one simple saying, and if you know it already say it with me, be the moose! In other words, be the one being in your dog’s life that most attracts him and the energy he has. Otherwise, it will go elsewhere and may likely turn into problem behaviors you don’t want. I know that’s a long drawn out explanation of resistance but I feel its important to understand before you go into how the dog processes resistance.
So, once the dog encounters resistance he internalizes it in the gut and that becomes a physical point around which it can focus its movement = physical center of gravity. This is also where the hunger circuitry is centralized. The dog feels an electromagnetic pull to overcome the resistance in order to connect with an object of attraction. This would complete the circuit of turning prey drive into grounded emotion. Any amount of prey drive that doesn’t run to ground is reabsorbed by the dog’s body and stored back into the gut as stress, which simply put is the physical memory of emotion that didn’t run to ground and in turn intensifying the object of resistance. Future encounters with this resistance would trigger this unresolved emotion as fear. Hence, you have a bank, or battery of energy that can still be released if the dog can learn to overcome the resistance despite the new fear. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.
Let’s talk about beams. An object of attraction is registered by the dog through a series of three beams; 1) subliminal beam starting at the inner ear near the big brain in the head (CNS/balance circuitry) and connecting with the gut (hunger circuitry); 2) external focus gaze that starts from the eyes and projects onto the eyes of the object of attraction; 3) and the heart beam that connects between the shoulders in the heart and projects onto the midpoint of the object of attraction. On that third beam, the heart beam, do you know where that midpoint would be on a human? You ready for this: the heart! Answer this question: has your dog ever tugged on your heartstrings? There’s a connection there!
So, the dog is attracted to prey through hunger and it feels this in the gut via the subliminal beam connecting from the inner ear to gut. Simultaneously, every prey object has a predatory aspect that creates resistance: the eyes. Therefore, the second beam would be focused on the eyes to balance out the pressure created by the resistance. Then if the dog can maintain its hunger connection with the prey its physical center of gravity (gut) will project onto the midpoint of the prey until it makes contact. When contact is made, the dog can use its own emotional leverage by the connection between its heart and the midpoint of the object of attraction and the circuit of emotional grounding is complete. If you can connect with your dog on that level, that is, its physical center of gravity (subliminal beam) can project onto your midpoint in your heart while being able to overcome the resistance of your eyes (external focus beam) then you are connected by heart. It is on this level where you can shift your physical center of gravity onto an object of attraction around which both you and your dog are centered/connected (i.e. you determine the prey). All of this then leads to the progression of sit, down, stay, heal, etc. And once again, I digress: if you really understand it this way then you can see how heeling encompasses the entire hunt, from when the wolf spots the moose all the way through the actual kill. Obviously, with dogs they aren’t going to kill us like a moose but they will heel with us as if in that aspect of the hunt. Luckily for us and the dog, this flows into a complex system of nice, social, obedient behaviors. You can’t do this with a wolf – thank God/design in nature for evolution(ironic, I know).
The Dynamo: Using Heart to Expand with Added Energy to the System
Here’s where I still struggle a bit but I’ll try my best. A dog is NOT it’s own self independent from it’s surroundings. It’s “self” only exists relative to what it projects onto the surroundings, or more specifically an object of attraction. This is manifested by the emotional connection it has with the object of attraction. For instance, Bella loves to chase squirrels – albeit they turned into the path of least resistance – but she feels as if that bulbous form is her body by her sheer projection of center onto the squirrel. Nature is a mirror, therefore two dogs can become one energy system “simply” by plugging into each other’s respective opposite poles. Let me backtrack a tad. Every dog in any given moment has to solve an energy problem. Say it has 100,000 volts of energy in its emotional battery – the dog consists of a positive end (the hind quarters) and a negative end (the head/eyes). It meets another dog, and assuming they can sort out any tension/pressure caused by resistance between each other, each dog’s positive end connects with the other’s negative. There’s the fine tuning of balance in the Big Brain in the head while “digesting” the interaction to achieve emotional grounding through the Little Brain in the gut. Each dog’s physical center of gravity projecting into the other. So what you see is each dog sensate with each other smelling and licking the secretions of the eyes and ears and then sensing the secretions of the anal glands and reproductive parts. Each dog’s subliminal and external beams ping-ponging back and forth. Soon enough you start to see “flipping” and “flopping” that looks a lot like play – each dog flips/flops between predator and prey aspects. But on a deeper level the two dogs are in tandem, a dynamo, with each other. The best example I’ve learned to so far is that if you take two magnets and put (+) to (+) or (-) to (-) they will repel each other. But, if you flip one magnet then they come together. Or even if you took one magnet and cut it in half width-wise, you’d still flip one to join the two of them. They are fused – each dog feels as if the other is its self. Now, if you watch closely you will see the heart beam in action when the dogs rub shoulders with the each other or sometimes they form a “T” with one dog’s head resting over-top the shoulders of the other. So with this fusion, you now have one energy system between two dogs that becomes 200,000 volts of energy. They feel as if they are one being. If they can sustain that synchronization then together they determine what the prey is. In a pack of wolves, the more the voltage the better able they are of taking out a giant prey. For instance, a pack of 8 wolves in synchronization makes up 800,000 volts to take on a moose or buffalo. All of that energy is magnetically pulled in the hunt to run to ground as closely to zero as possible. Then you get into Kevin’s adventure’s in calculus and you learn about infinitesimals. Basically, a dog can overcome all the resistance it wants but if you can’t get it to within that .01 of grounding the energy, then he doesn’t feel complete – he’s close but not all the way.
From a human-dog relationship, the same dynamo is in play. The dog can project its physical center of gravity on to you and feel as if you are part of its self. And then more complex systems of flow can arise to where you project your emotion center of gravity onto a toy or other object of attraction around which you and your dog are centered. And before your eyes heeling appears.
When you really boil it down its all about the elements of physics: energy, flow systems, electromagnetism, Newton’s third law of motion, etc. The above may be far more than needed when covering the basics of NDT theory, but remember this is just me rambling so that I can get my thoughts into words :).
In both Bella and Trace, the pipes are opening up. And what I mean by that is that over time as you create more and more resistance that turns into unresolved stress, the pipe through which their natural prey drive flows gets all clogged and blocks their energy from coming out in ways that are obedient. I liken it to old galvanized steel pipes. When we remodeled our bathroom in our house I had to redo all the plumbing. Our house was built in the 50s so we had the heavy galvanized steel pipes that were constantly clogging up. So, I took the reciprocating saw to them and found the nastiest, rusted out, grungiest grime that had built up over the years. So I replaced them with PVC – a nice, clear, free-flowing pipe. Anyway, today, Bella did the best down-stay she has done yet! She sustained it, she was calm and collected! Kevin was really impressed with her because she’s just had all this pent-up fear that I have always chalked up to, “oh, she’s just overly-excited” or “she’s just a sweetie-pie with a hyper-streak.” She’s inching closer and closer to becoming a whole, grounded dog.
Then there’s Trace. Kevin got me to resonate with the heart-to-heart connection after today’s work with Trace. So, the last week we’ve been trying to help Trace sustain his focus into a flow pattern after three years of tuning me out and taking the path of least resistance. The horizon, the squirrels, anything but me became the negative, the path of least resistance. We’ve been helping him begin to focus on me as a pathway to higher levels sustained flow through bite work, box work, and some healing/pushing. So, we tested him on the trails this morning, working within 20-30 yard segments of rough-up-and-chase. He was coming at me much quicker than a week ago and jumping up to make contact. He still broke focus here and there but he took food upon jumping and pushing and barking. Then we had him out on the trolley line and he had his breakthrough moment where he had two, I repeat TWO, sustained bite and tugs in a row. I was grinning from ear-to-ear as was Kevin and that was worth clapping in applause for Trace. But the moment of sweetness came about 20 minutes after we had left him secured in the woods by himself. Kevin and I were back at the lawn in front of the barn, a good 200 yards away from Trace’s location in the woods, well out of sight. We were working with another dog when all of a sudden we heard howling echoing through the air. I had never heard him howl so deep like that before. It was like a wolf in the wild – so serene, and from the heart. I asked Kevin about it and he said Trace was yearning for me, “the pipe is opening up.”