Month: October 2015

Form Should Follow Function

The function and form of a dog IS determined by the prey drive IN the dog. Dogs detect external (foreign to the pack) stimulus by sight, sound, smell and taste. A dog will always seek out the external stimulus that triggers their prey drive to the highest level of stimulation in that moment. Through the selective breeding of dogs which demonstrate the most successful prey drive action (what results when prey drive is triggered), FORM (the dog’s physical characteristics) will always follow FUNCTION (the dogs prey drive).

Form will follow function in the wild amongst pack animals as their physical characteristics will change through selective breeding (inter-pack) in order to create and maintain the highest level of success at finding, subduing, and killing prey. Natural pack STRUCTURE (with no human influence) will ensure the selective breeding process occurs by that the #1 male will always seek out and breed with the #1 female. Breeding and the social action associated with it is just another prey drive behavior (will be subject of future post).

A breeder of domestic dogs should approach their breeding plan using a similar selective process or one that best mimics the natural selective process that would occur with no human influence. Developing their “best in breed” (the proven dog) for the WORK performed, should be the pursuit of every breeder. A proven dog is one in which the frequency, intensity, and consistency of its prey drive ACTION is documented (a historical record is created and stored). Unfortunately, the historical data that follows dogs today (from one owner to another) are usually the traumatic/abusive conditions the dog grew up in or how it was kept in a cage for many hours a day. This data is typically explained with lots of emotion and expression.

THE TRUTH IS, this data means very little to the issue of the dogs current behavior and NOTHING as to the origin of it. Instead the dogs behavior has everything to do with the prey drive behavior it inherited from its parents and ancestors. I would say that most breeders are not even able to speak to their dog’s prey drive action or may not even know what that is (please read my posts if you are one). It requires the breeder to be dedicated to what his dogs DO instead of how much money can be made selling them. Dogs today are mostly SOLD for looks and are ADOPTED for the emotional stories behind their behaviors.

Dog Behavior Analysis 101

At any given moment a dog will display body language that indicates its internal (brain) behavior mode as either dominant or submissive. A dog can switch between these modes many times a minute in some situations. The dog’s body language will also reveal whether the dog is acting stable or unstable in that moment. The analysis of whether the dog is acting stable or unstable should be from the perspective of another pack member. Since the other pack member is typically a human in a domestic setting, the analysis of the behaviors and their response to them will be, unfortunately, inherently humanized. I, however, had the privilege to learn from the DOG’S perspective through my study of dogs and how they invoke and maintain pack harmony with NO human intervention. This has allowed me and my trainers to more effectively modify dog behavior for my clients through my all-natural response that MIMICS how a dominant dog communicates (through body language and physical contact) with a sub-dominant in order to modify, reinforce, and maintain the sub-dominant’s pack position at any given moment.

As I have stated before (previous blog posts), all dog behavior is sourced from prey drive. Therefore prey drive also dictates and influences all INTER-PACK behavior or behavior interaction between pack members in a domestic setting(between humans and dogs).  These interactions will dictate, modify, and reinforce the pack hierarchy and therefore stability. When prey drive is triggered (there are degrees of trigger as indicated by the frequency and intensity of the response), prey drive response action from the dog is activated and will be accompanied by a corresponding display of dominant body language.

The general appearance of dominant body language is represented by a dog’s tail being up (degrees of angle or straight up) and/or rigid or wagging, ears are up/forward and focused (in direction of stimulus), eyes are beading on the stimulus, and mouth is closed. Other additional features of dominant body language can be hair up on back, barking/growling, square/rigid body, standing on hinds, lunging, etc..

General appearance of submissive body language, or body language that indicates the “off switch” is represented by the tail in the down position, ears are back/down and relaxed, mouth is open, and eyes are not locked on stimulus. General submissive body language will be non-confrontational (not squaring off and not making eye-to-eye contact) with head pointed down and turned slightly to the left or right and standing at an angle or with side more exposed.

The pet industry has, unfortunately,  adopted an “optics” driven method of analyzing dog behavior between human and dog that denies prey drive as its source and humanizes the interactions, making human emotion the source instead. How many times have I been used as an expert witness in criminal court for a dog accused of being “dangerous” and the owner was baffled why their dog bit a stranger when its tail was up and wagging during the interaction. To the owner, the dog’s tail position meant that the dog was “happy”. The body language of the dog, however, meant otherwise and the owner paid dearly in court and so did the dog.

The “optics” method of analyzing dog behavior is very crude and relates or connects the dog’s behavior action (what the human observer sees) to the manifestation of real human emotion. The emotion most used in the pet industry is “FEAR”. When a dog is showing UNSTABLE submissive mode behavior, the pet industry has taught that it means the dog is in “fear”. For example, unstable submissive mode behavior is shown by a dog tucking its tail under its belly, pinning its ears back, and shaking. This happens to a lot of dog owners when they take their dog to the vet for example. By suggesting this behavior action means the dog is in “fear”, has caused owners to respond inappropriately to their dog’s behavior in the moment and actually inadvertently reinforce the very behavior they wish would go away.

In conclusion, dog owners should ONLY be rewarding their dog’s STABLE behavior. This requires the human pack member to THINK LIKE A DOG instead of a human, and recognize STABLE behavior and modify/discourage UNSTABLE behavior just like a dog. The pet industry has complicated our human response to dog behavior by suggesting human emotion has any place in the analysis of the dog behavior, costing human owners lots of money, time, and happiness. Great for the industry $$$, bad for dog owners.

The Meaning of Behavior Modification

Behavior modification means to move a dog from a dominant behavior mode to a submissive behavior mode and is the key to ALL dog training. As I teach my clients, dog training begins at submission and NOT with treats or some other treat-based gimmick as the pet industry would have you believe.

All prey drive behavior initiated by a dog is dominant mode behavior. Dogs must be TAUGHT to be stable submissive in order to exist as a member in a successful working pack. Stable submissive mode behavior is literally the “OFF SWITCH” for dogs and should be the starting point for obedience or any on-command training (attack, retrieve, etc.). It is also the answer or training for any unwanted behavior (aggression, jumping up, pulling, etc.) while your dog is in any stage of acting it out. Dogs practice behavior modification naturally between each other when packing up and is the method they use to achieve and maintain pack hierarchy and harmony. Humans should teach their dogs to be submissive on command in order to achieve the same results and is the backbone to ALL-NATURAL dog training.

Dogs are born in dominant behavior mode, they have to be trained to be submissive. This submission training occurs naturally in a pack between adults and puppies and is most intense during the first 2.5 years of life in the pack. I have over 35,000 plus hours of studying, modifying, stimulating, and training dogs of all ages in packs. The fundamental reason for behavior issues with dogs is that we humans remove puppies from their packs at 8 weeks old or earlier (to give away or sell) and do not provide or even know how to provide submission training to new owners as the dog grows up in their pack. This is absolutely essential to raising a dog to be a stable and harmonious pack member at all ages.

My study of dogs and how they pack up without any human intervention taught me that behavior modification is always a physical or tactile interaction between the dominant and sub-dominant in a pack. If you start with puppies and observe the way the adult dogs interact with them, you will see that the adult always picks the puppy up and moves it by the SCRUFF of its neck. This interaction is the main method for behavior modification of puppies in a pack. This tactile interaction contains all sorts of communication and training for the puppy and forces it to become a stable submissive and obedient pack member. Humans can mimic this method with their puppy and is the way I recommend to ALWAYS pick a puppy up for at least the first 25 weeks of life.

The pet industry shuns physical methods for behavior modification training because of the way it looks when being done. Holding or picking a puppy up by the scruff of its neck looks unpleasant to the puppy and considered cruel by most humans.  The pet industry has even suggested this natural interaction, when done by humans, is “dog abuse”. Defining dog abuse and supporting dog law/animal control is how the pet industry controls, intimidates, and manipulates the dog owning population into conforming to its humanized standard of care and increasingly more expensive ownership costs (this will be subject of future blog posts).

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The Origin Of Dog Behavior & The Pet Industry

Today’s pet industry will tell you that 95% of all your dog’s behavior is sourced from ‘FEAR”. Really, go speak to any treat-based dog trainer, dog behaviorist, or veterinarian and most will tell you that “fear” is the reason your dog is doing what it is doing. The TRUTH is, this is absolute nonsense. The source of ALL of your dog’s behavior is PREY DRIVE because ALL dogs are by “NATURE” predators. This is what the pet industry does not want to tell people because prey drive makes the dog too much like a dog and even scary.

I believe the ORIGIN of the popular idea that any dog’s behavior is sourced from “fear” is the RESCUE industry. Of the human genders, females will be the most sensitive to something in fear. I believe this explains why 92% of the dog rescue industry is made up of women. Something in fear and certainly homeless/abused really pulls at their heart strings because of their “NATURE”. Not that it cannot pull at my heart strings, however, I’m making the point that women are first responders to it and disproportionately affected because of their “nature” or maternal instincts/emotional wiring.

By even suggesting that most dog’s behavior is sourced from “fear” (like humans experience fear) has, unfortunately, opened a pandora’s box and corrupted the analysis of dog behavior currently used by the majority of the pet industry serving dog owners. I believe that the rescue industry and its cozy relationship with veterinarians and dog trainers (especially treat-based trainers), has been very successful to raising the status of the dog to “human” and reaping huge profits because of it. You even see huge drug manufacturers such as Phizer and Merck marketing and selling Prozac and other human grade drugs for dogs through vet clinics.  It is so profitable and large that the pet industry, now $57 billion,  can’t turn back.

The majority of the pet industry humanizes the analysis of dog behavior. If you really think about it and experience it, humanizing the analysis of dog behavior results in creating a human narrative (using human reason and sense) around visible or observable dog body language, sounds, and dog interactions with pack and things outside the pack. How ridiculous and unscientific is that method. Unfortunately the different components of the industry work hand-in -hand to support, market, and reinforce this approach and have made it an industry ideology.

Only a small portion of industry participants, like myself, believe that humanization has NO place in the analysis of dog behavior. We are purists and far and few between from what I can tell. Our ideology is actually objective and more importantly experiential and therefore TRUTH. To say it another way, my ideology is DOG with NO emotions. So two camps or schools of thought have formed, and their are degrees to either one of them, and have two vastly different perspectives of domestic dog behavior. If you follow the money in the pet industry (subject of a future post) you will recognize who in the pet industry is really waging the battle and who stands to benefit the most. I will also go as far as to say that to some degree it pits women vs. men (subject of future blog posts).

Humanizing the analysis of dog behavior has also, unfortunately, penetrated the LAW in most states and part of almost every states’ “dangerous dog” statutes. This works to the detriment of both dog and owner and arbitrarily discriminates against certain breeds because of their prey drives. Discussing dog law and the fallacy of humanizing the analysis of dog behavior will be the subject of many future blog posts.

The Anatomy of “Positive Reinforcement” & Prey Drive

Positive reinforcement training methods are any method used that results in your dog receiving “it” (the positive reinforcement) after demonstrating some desired behavior action or act of obedience. The most common form of positive reinforcement used for this training today is food.

Now, I will tell you what treat-based dog trainers do not want you to know. Food is actually the lowest common denominator LURE or STIMULUS for dogs. As such, ALL dogs will respond to it, however, it is not a reward as they teach. Dogs do not even have any sense or knowledge of a reward, they only go for the things that stimulate their prey drive the highest in that moment. If it is food that offers the highest stimulation to their prey drive in that moment, then the food will appear to keep the dog’s attention until consumed. Dog owners and lovers are often thrilled by the attention dogs exhibit to them and their owners when offered food treats. It looks like the dog is being obedient to the person offering it, but the dog is really just being LURED by the food stimulus. As soon as something comes around that stimulates the dog’s prey drive to a higher level then the food does, the dog will ignore the food, and pursue the stimulus that triggers their prey drive the highest.

Dogs are predators by nature and therefore prey drive is the reason they wake up each day. A dog follows, pursues, takes down, and even kills random stimuli with its prey drive behavior response action. The stimulus triggers the dog’s “prey drive” to some level (high, medium, or low) and based upon this prey drive trigger level a dog will act out its prey drive response action with a corresponding level of frequency and intensity. The pet industry typically calls this prey drive response action “aggression”, and, unfortunately, has therefore introduced human emotion into the analysis of this type of behavior. This humanized analysis of dog behavior will be the focus of another future article.

There is actually no emotion associated with a dog’s prey drive. Since food is the lowest level common denominator stimulus for a dog’s prey drive, there are obviously many other stimuli in our domestic environments, inside and outside the home, that can trigger our dog’s prey drive to a higher level than food does. Imagine trying to distract your reactive or “aggressive” dog from another dog using treats, however, the other dog comes closer to you and your dog and that triggers your dog’s prey drive high enough that it finally ignors the treats you are offering and goes after the other dog with lunging and showing of teeth.

In conclusion, I believe food treats actually have a very limited place in dog interaction (only in the home), but certainly should not be considered or used as a primary “positive reinforcement” method used in the industry for behavior modification and obedience training. Then you might ask, what is the best method? If dog owners seeking dog training really have a pack problem and not a dog problem (subject of my first article), then the best place in my opinion to look for answers to our dog behavior/obedience issues is the dog pack. This is precisely what I did and built a successful dog training business around what I learned.

Dogs with NO humans present will naturally seek a pack relationship with other dogs of like size and prey drive. Age, sex, and health will also be variables affecting the pack relationship between dogs, however, this will be discussed in another future article. In my 10 years of professionally studying domestic dogs in a packs with no human intervention, I never saw one dog give another dog a food treat in order to modify its behavior or make it do what it wants. So a human should not be using this to pack up with their dog or dogs either. All the dogs as part of my study throughout my professional career obtained pack harmony naturally as dogs naturally do with no human intervention.  Therefore I developed a training format and methods that best mimic how dogs interact in a stable pack and more specifically what the dominant alpha dog does to a sub-dominant in order to naturally achieve and maintain pack harmony with it encountering random stimuli in its environment. So in the context of a pack and seeking pack harmony (for example a human owning 2 dogs), food or treat based training really has no place in achieving and maintaining daily pack harmony.

I will be posting  follow-up articles surrounding my ALL-NATURAL behavior modification and obedience training methods.

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