Category Archives: Cynopraxis

Bonding Theory

Ontogeny, Coping, and Social Behavior Attunement, Attachment, and the Human-Dog Bond Opportunity with Limit Attaining cynopraxic objectives depends on decisive action at the right time (kairos). In dog training, the coordination, selection, and timing of social exchanges are critical for success. The notion of kairos goes to the inner nature of such intuitive action and timely exchange. The word kairos was used in a variety of ways by ancient Greeks to describe timely action or opportunity. White () suggests that the term was used to refer to the brief moment allowed for a weaver to pass a thread through a gap opened momentarily in the warp of a cloth being woven. In the Odyssey, Homer combines this early meaning of kairos with a manipulation of time used by Penelope to postpone the time agreed by her to decide and choose among the suitors. Penelope promised the suitors that as soon as she had finished a shroud that she was weaving for Odysseus’ father that she would choose a new husband. But the promise was only a ruse to gain time, since at night she undid the work she accomplished during the day. A symbolic implication of her trick is that placing a thread through the kairos advanced time and pulling the thread Read more […]

Ontogeny, Coping, and Social Behavior

The disorganizing influence of runaway allo-static load and the integration of maladaptive behavioral phenotypes may be initiated or prefigured early in a dog’s ontogeny. Dogs exposed to adverse prenatal and postnatal stress, perinatal trauma, or maternal maltreatment may show a more dramatic and exaggerated allostatic response and tendency to integrate adaptation-impairing load in response to stressors than dogs exposed to more favorable ontogenetic programming early in life. The type, amount, and timing of early stress may profoundly affect the expression and functionality of PSMs and the ability of a dog to adjust in a functionally coordinated way. Developmental programming and insults that cause modal disturbances affecting sensorimotor processing (preattentive and preemptive arousal) and various motivational and motor systems integrating drive and behavioral output may impair a dog’s ability to achieve coherent and stable adjustments. In addition to psychological stressors, damage associated with infectious disease and environmental toxins have been implicated in etiology of adult and childhood behavioral disorders. Mothers exposed to viral infections early in the gestation period may transmit pathological antibodies Read more […]

Postnatal Handling: Protective and Destructive Influences

Postnatal stimulation may accentuate, diminish, or reverse the adverse effects of prenatal stress. Whereas long periods of separation from the mother can result in HPA-axis disturbances in adult rats, briefer periods of separation tend to produce a moderating effect on emotional reactivity and HPA-axis activity. Adverse maternal separation stress produces a downregulation of glucocorticoid-binding sites in the hippocampus, as well as increases hypothalamic CRF mRNA expression. This combination of neural changes may result in an adult animal that is stress prone, showing a greater vulnerability to the adverse effects of chronic environmental and psychological stressors via impaired hippocampal negative-feedback control over CRF release and increased CRF activity. Although the stress-mediated facilitation of CRF gene expression exerts highly durable and perhaps irreversible changes on the CRF system, the brain shows remarkable capabilities to make compensatory adjustments. For example, among rats exposed to harmful maternal separation, social and environmental enrichment procedures ameliorate the adverse effects of early stress on HPA-axis activity and fearful responses to psychological stressors (). The critical factor Read more […]

Weaning and Parent-Offspring Conflict

According to an influential theory of parental investment (PI) proposed by Trivers (), both parents invest in the care of offspring, but the PI of males is typically much less than that of females. In some species, such as dogs, the male parental investment consists only of donating sperm, whereas other mammalian males contribute more equitable investments to the care of the young. The amount of parental investment given by the mother and father appears to exert a profound influence on the reproductive relationship, the social organization of the group, and the quality of interaction among members of the group. Besides nurturance, a significant part of parental investment involves protection. Among wolves, mothers and fathers share a major investment in the care and protection of the young (). They form lasting pair bonds, show evidence of a division of labor, and organize relatively stable family groups. The mother wolf suckles and cares for the young and protects the denning area, whereas the father appears to play a greater role in the defense of the home territory while provisioning the mother and young with food. In contrast, males in animal societies where they contribute minimal parental investment to their offspring Read more […]

Attunement, Attachment, and the Human-Dog Bond

According to the affect-attunement hypothesis, dogs and people relate by feeling their way through exchanges and by shifting arousal and output to match the emotional intensity, duration, and shape of the partner’s reciprocating actions. The mutual appreciation or sharing of attention, intention, and affective states is marked by the emergence of an interactive attentional nexus and an allocentric relational space within which human and canine partners build complex predictive relations that serve to synchronize arousal and affective states. From a foundation of care relations mediating autonomic attunement, the dog shows an increasing appetite for socially mediated and shared experiences with others. When facing problems or circumstances evincing difficulty or uncertainty, dogs, like infants studied by Stern (), may look toward the social partner for “affective content, essentially to see what they should feel, to get a second appraisal to help resolve their uncertainty” (). The dog’s ability to grab and steer the human partner’s attention to the location of out-of-reach toys or food reflects a capacity for relating to the other allocentrically, indicating the operation of a cognitive functions that enable the dog Read more […]

Big Bangs and Black Holes: extraversion, introversion, and Disorganizing Load

Behavioral adjustments may either hit the mark or miss it. One performing actions that hit the mark depends on experience to learn the most opportune moments (occasion-setting criteria) to act and what to expect as the result of actions, and to tune energy expenditures and preparatory arousal to act in accord with those expectancies. Behavioral adjustments are said to hit the mark when expectancies, preparatory arousal, and action modes promote social exchanges conducive to reward, autonomic attunement, secure attachments, and an adaptive coping style. On the other hand, a failure to attune arousal and action readiness in accord with reliable predictive information, causing a dog to motivationally overshoot or undershoot the mark or miss the right opportunities to act, promotes behavioral adjustments that miss the mark. Social exchanges that consistently overshoot the mark because of a lack of predictive modulation regulating excitatory arousal and action readiness tend to promote an externalizing (approach) imbalance in the direction of hyperactivity, novelty seeking, and exploitive social interaction. At the other extreme, dogs lacking predictive modulation over inhibitory processes may miss the mark by consistently Read more […]

Coping with Conflict

Household social interaction, in all its nuances and refinements, is the result of human and canine adaptations to the competition and possessiveness arising from interactive conflict. Conflict sets the stage for the emergence of both reactive and proactive adjustments, depending on the abilities of the owner and the dog to prevent or avoid conflict when opening and sharing a social space (see Social Spaces, Frames, and Zones). Although a dog’s control interests are mostly confined to the pursuit of attractive motivational stimuli under a freedom incentive, an owner’s control incentives are more often informed by power incentives. The owner may experience a strong sense of failure and inadequacy when unable to limit the dog’s undesirable behavior. The loss of control experienced by the owner may heighten aversive feelings of anger and resentment toward the dog while mediating a state of misattunement, marginalization, entrapment, and social ambivalence. Many owners are under the persuasion of bad advice that a dog’s conflictive efforts are motivated by a dominance incentive, causing the owner to engage the dog in exchanges that perpetuate and worsen the problems, rather than restoring social attraction and trust. By Read more […]

Restraint, Unavoidable Aversive Stimulation, and Stress

Most dogs express flexible antistress and anti-aggression capability but not in equal measure, with some breeds, on average, showing a greater proclivity toward reactive behavior than others (). Also, there is tremendous variation among individuals within the same breed that affects fearful behavior. In addition to differences affecting reactive thresholds in response to innocuous novel stimuli, Malhut found that breed-related differences affected the sort of coping style exhibited by the dogs. Corson and O’Leary Corson () have also reported significant individual variation in the way dogs cope with isolation, physical restraint, and unavoidable electrical stimulation. Certain dogs — notably those belonging to herding, spaniel, and terrier breeds — show an ensemble of reactive behavioral and physiological changes when exposed to psychological stressors. These reactive dogs, which the researchers refer to as antidiuretic or low-adaptation types, exhibit a persistent pattern of increased metabolic activity and autonomic activation — physiological changes that typically occur in association with the sympathetic arousal and muscular exertion used to fight off or escape from a serious threat or challenge. In contrast Read more […]

Attentional Nexus, Social Communication, and Control

Domestication has significantly improved the dog’s capacity to cope with stress and social uncertainty via the evolution of antistress and antiaggression capacities, enhanced attention and impulse-control abilities, exchange-mediated autonomic attunement, and the integration of a sophisticated SES consolidating these various changes (). As a result, the dog’s ability to explore and rapidly establish social relations under a positive expectancy of reward is generally ascendant to negative expectancies and the social aversion associated with dispersion and entrapment dynamics. Dogs appear to respond to the presence of a person as an intrinsically rewarding object, with social contact possessing both incentive significance and hedonic value. For many dogs, petting is not only calmative but is also restorative in nature (see Affection and Friendship). The mere presence of a person nearby activates antistress capacities that enhance a dog’s ability to cope with pain and stress. In addition to generally enjoying human social contact, dogs have evolved a proactive sociability that enables them to smooth over social tensions with conciliatory exchanges before they escalate into conflict. In short, dogs are developmentally organized Read more […]

Sensitivity to Human Attentional States

One might expect that under circumstances in which deictic signals result in interference or exploitation by an observer that a dog might employ gaze amd directional cues to turn the others attention away from the location or object of interest. The results of a study by Call and colleagues () might be interpreted as evidence of tactical behavior organized to evade interference by adjusting risky ventures to changes in human orientation, proximity, and attention. In their study, dogs were exposed to training in which a piece of food was placed on the floor, whereupon the experimenter looked at the dog and said “Aus!” (Out!), followed by a second event in which the dog’s name was called and followed by “Aus!” again. The dogs were subsequently exposed to a series of test trials that continued until the dog either took the food or 3 minutes had elapsed. If the dog took the food without permission, it was not punished, nor was it rewarded if it refrained from taking the food. As such, the procedure appears to asymmetrically favor approach over avoidance, since dogs that took the forbidden food were merely ignored, just as those that obeyed the prohibition were ignored. With only one exception, all of the dogs took the food Read more […]