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Diary    H2'ed 2/21/09

Dog Training; Bottom Up? Top Down? And is it a metaphor for our culture?

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Just did a session with a dog trainer. She explained that there's a pyramid and you start dog training with a foundation base of commands to come, sit and lie down.

So we can think of dog training as bottom up. But the training itelf is very much top down. Our instructor is very firm-- dogs have four feet on the ground, they are below humans, are not our equals, have to learn who is in charge. This is pure top down master domination. My first thought is that this is the way things should be-- my house, my rules.

Or maybe not. How does it work in nature? This same trainer suggests that dogs originally trained humans. The humans started hunting the same prey the dogs sought, so the dogs waited around the campfire and the humans started throwing the dogs bones. Were the humans trained to do the work? Who was really in charge?

Do we really want a pet that is totally dominated and beaten down? The trainer, Bernadette, said she likes feisty pups much better. They have more personality and vivacity.

Practically speaking, there is, generally, a top down relationship between a dog owner and a dog-- to some extent. But it doesn't have to be overdone. You can give the dog room to have a feisty, lively personality.

That got me thinking. Do top down "masters" use some basic rules, basic command training to keep people down? Do they teach people to, metaphorically, come, sit and lay down? If so, what would that look like?

We can start with school. Come to school. Sit down. In kindergarten, I have had to lay down, to take a nap. No sitting up then. The rules and commands continue from there, in the name of learning, discipline, self control. Some critics of the current school system say it is designed to create pliant, obediant soldiers and factory workers. Remember, schools were not always mass production operations with 30-40 children per classroom.

Then there are drug policies. Let's face it, the people who are arrested and incarcerated for drug abuse are mostly minorities. Whites, like Michael Phelpps who was caught on video with a bong, get away with using marijuana. Blacks and latinos go to jail and have their lives ruined, their families torn apart.

Bernadette says that there's an 80-20 rule in dog training (gads, it' everywhere) that 80 of problems with dogs are due to people. It seems to me that the same applies to laws-- that the culture and the society, the community and family are 80% responsible for problems with people. 

I've posted this because I'd like your thoughts. Is dog training bottom up? Is it top down? Is it analogous to how our culture trains us? What are your thoughts. If I have said so before, I'm working on a book on bottom up. It makes sense to do some bottom up research, like having you put in your thoughts on this.



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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity  

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)

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