Turned On By Conflict

Some dogs are turned on by conflict.

And….. That ain’t a bad thing.

People are the same way. Chess Players LOVE conflict. So do lawyers. Kids on the debate team.

Also…. weightlifters. They love a weight that doesn’t want to go overhead. Not to mention the obvious boxers, and wrestlers.

All those folks like conflict. They crave it.

In fact…. They NEED it in order to be OK. Take any of the people with the drives that make them excel at the above activities, and prevent them from being involved with said activities…..

And, you’ll have some ill-behaved individuals.

In fact… Prisons are full of those guys. They could have made athletes, or entrepreneurs….. But, they found the wrong ways to express that conflict.

I was that kid. I was in huge amounts of trouble. Very angry, violent kid. Then, found fighting as a vocation. Started weightlifting, and training for fights. I had so much conflict in my life it was silly. But… it was the good directed kind. And, it turned me around.

I am a (mostly) balanced, functional adult. This is ONLY possible because I found an outlet for my urges for conflict that helped me develop as a person.

Some dogs are the same.

They are biologically programmed to be turned on by conflict.

Not necessarily physical conflict.

Herding dogs like the chess match more than the rugby match. Catch dogs are like the rugby folks. And, Pits…. Well….. They are like me.

Point is, there are different “flavors” of conflict. And….. If you don’t find a way to provide it……

It will leak out into other areas of life.

Most dogs….. The only conflict they have access to is with the leash. Or, being stubborn with you. That’s their tug of war. Their debate club.

That’s where play comes in.

Games are at the same time cooperation AND conflict.

Tug, is obvious.

So is Weight Pull

What about Fetch? The ball is trying to escape, they must catch it!

Food training…. That’s like chess. Less physical, but still…. They have to figure out how to win! And the better they get, the harder it is to win! It’s conflict. Debate club conflict. Not fight club conflict. But….. a cooperative game of conflict, none the less!

Point is….

Find out how turned on your dog is by conflict. And, what kind they crave.

Find, and craft, the game that will give them access to it, while developing relationship, life skills and responsibilities in the process.

Now….. go play with your dog.

Comments 3

  1. Chad

    Nice article Jay. The only thing I’d like to say is that for a good working retriever the game is mostly mental. A dog chasing a ball in the backyard may be trying to keep the ball from getting away. But a working retriever is often doing a blind retrieve, he didn’t see the thing fall. In fact, in training, they don’t fall at all but are placed before the dog takes the field.

    I think its more the puzzle than the chase.

    Good stuff man. Keep it up!

  2. PBurns

    Brilliant! The best thing I’ve read on dogs all week and maybe all month. The code will explode — we just have to figure out how to channel it in a useful — or at least not destructive — way. Full applause!!!

  3. Mark McCabe

    Very well said.

    When the focus of the conflict becomes the handler that is never a good thing. When the handler is the dogs team mate and play mate with the conflict that can be a great thing!

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