Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: Super Dog Failed

The so called "super dogs" were actually reactive, neurotic messes.

There was much hype put out by the biosensor program early in the process, long before they had any real results to brag about:

By 1980 we will have a remarkably superior dog.

A member of the Vietnam Security Police recalls the graduates from the Super Dog program:

The dogs resembled a German Shepherd, but most had a far away look in their eyes. The initial litters had been raised in a kennel environment. When the dogs were exposed to common elements of an outside environment (birds, grass, etc), they were afraid, confused and skittish.

Instructors of one class with several of these dogs demonstrated how the dogs refused to cross a line painted on the pavement. Other Instructors joked with them about how cheap it would be to kennel them. All you had to do was paint a circle around a doghouse.

Later litters were taken outside to run and play in a fenced in obstacle course area. This was an attempt to socialize them to the outdoors. Many of these dogs then associated a obstacle course as a play area and could not be controlled easily off leash.

That’s hardly the sort of results puppy raisers would want to achieve for dogs being placed in homes, around children, and with the expectation to be good citizens.

Mike Lister, Instructor at Fort Benning recalls his experience with “super” dogs:

It was the opinion of those at Ft. Benning that the dogs were great at scent discrimination tasks, but were not suitable for aggression tasks. They were much shyer and sensitive than the dogs we got from the public. I believe Col. Castleberry addressed this issue, by having more human interaction for the pups as they were growing up. We were told in the beginning there was very little human interaction.

The dogs were also very sensitive to correction. At Ft. Benning we followed the principles of conditioning when training our dogs. When using level of titration to correct our dogs, we only needed the lowest level for the Bio Dogs. Usualloy voice or a look was enough of a correction. As regarding stress, they didn’t handle it as well as other dogs. The Bio Dogs were the only neonatal dogs we trained.

Denzil’s summary of Dr. William J. Fuller on the prospect of the Military setting up another GSD breeding program:

The breeding program must be long-term and will require a large number of dogs. He states that the government has already taken that route once [Super Dog], and the results were not favorable enough to continue.

Regarding the biosensor program, he feels that it failed for the same reasons the ancient Greeks failed to make a superman. Dr. Fuller feels that great virtuosos or any other biological creation of marked superiority are “genetic accidents,” and that any program that tries to produce this superiority in a consistent manner is doomed to fail. He thinks a more reasonable goal would be to develop a program that would consistently produce good quality working dogs.

William D. Gilbert on the “Disposition of the Military Working Dog Program:”

The main reasons expressed in the letter for ending the program were that the program was a “questionable venture,” because there were no requirements for genetically superior dogs in the U.S. Air Force. The letter acknowledged that the program had been a success in producing “enviable pedigree lineages,” which could conceivably provide a detection capability, but this was not viewed as a projected requirement for the future.

Debbie Kay, private biosensor dog contractor:

Concerning the biosensor program, and based on what she has heard from various people associated with the program, it is her opinion that it was discontinued because the program was dominated with research-oriented personnel. And that there was no over-all coordination, and there was significant jealousy between the various factions that came into play as the money began to dry up.

Remember that despite being dominated by research (versus results) oriented people, the biosensor program never published one paper on their findings.

Dr. George Lees, shared his experience with the biosensor program with Denzil:

He went on to say that the dog fancy community is very fragmented in their beliefs , and whatever they believe as individuals, they are willing to discuss with anyone that will listen and convince them “that they are right and everybody else is crazy.”

He concluded by stating, that in his opinion, there were 2 reasons why the biosensor program failed. First, there was no clear vision or target of who needed, or how to best utilize the dogs. Second, the research team became impatient due to unrealistic expectations from upper echelon leadership, and a tightening of the budget purse strings.

This last bit is what I find most revealing.  Dr. Lees pegs the purebred dog community exactly: fragmented, back biting, and followers of whatever messiah or snake-oil salesmen comes along with a nice sounding story with promises of ribbons and show success.

It amazes me how many breeders proudly advertise their adherence to “Super Dog” or “Bio-Sensor” and many who claim amazing results from 3-5 seconds of tickling a dog’s toes.  Yet they do and it’s seemingly part of being a “reputable breeder.”  The conformity isn’t so much in the dogs, it’s in the culture.  Do what everyone else does, don’t think and certainly don’t question.

Battaglia’s Bio-Sensor is ridiculous on its face, but why are there so few of us who have ever questioned this?  The warning signs are all there: Promises of amazing health and performance benefits for less than 3 minutes of work total, a celebrity faux-Doctor pitching it, no published results, and claims of secret knowledge (classified by the government!).

After seeing what the truth of the biosensor program is and its limited and unsuccessfyl use of early neurological stimulation, it is clear that Carmen Battaglia is a liar and a fraud.


Battaglia’s Says: Biosensor Scientists say:
The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. “biosensor failed”

“biosensor was a questionable venture”

“the results were not favorable enough to continue”

“the Army did not develop and use any particular program in raising puppies [after biosensor failed]”

In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called “Bio Sensor” was developed. “there was no clear vision”

“unrealistic expectations”

“there was no over-all coordination”

Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. “regarding stress, they didn’t handle it as well as other dogs”

“very sensitive to correction”

“not suitable for aggression tasks”

“much shyer and more sensitive than dogs from the general public”

Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. “No specifically critical time, like between 3-16 days for stimulation, was ever advocated by me. Nor was any report put out by the army to my knowledge”

“no control studies were conducted on the stimulation”

“the Biosensor “early stress” program. I can tell you that it was attempted on a limited basis for a brief time and was based on suggestions by a consultant, Dr. Mike Fox.There was no scientific study on the results in so far as I can recall.”

” there was never any testing of outcome results with mature dogs”

“we stopped using the early stress program before data could be developed”

It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual. “It may well be that early stress is beneficial but we certainly did not prove that at Bio-Sensor”

“Personally, I’m skeptical about the efficacy of the extremely brief handling procedures as recommended by Battaglia and would like to see more in the way of supporting data.”

“Although anecdotal reports suggest that neonatal stress may be beneficial, the exact nature of the effect and the procedural details have not been fully worked out.”

The “Bio Sensor” program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. “most had a far away look in their eyes”

“they were afraid, confused, and skittish”

“they could not be controlled easily off leash”

Its development utilized six exercises which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)2. Head held erect3. Head pointed down

4. Supine position

5. Thermal stimulation.

“I do not recall the procedures as recommended by Dr. Battaglia”

“I don’t recall ever meeting Dr. Battaglia”

“The procedure used by Fox involved repeated 1 minute periods of stress exposure. The effect of such exposure may vary significantly from breed to breed, perhaps requiring different levels and durations of stress to be effective.”

“The program consisted of 3 components:

1. Exposure of neonatal (less than 21 days old) puppies to mild centrifugal force (a device similar to a carnival tilt-a-whirl only much slower was used).

2. Placement of the pups in a refrigerator for a short time and

3. Stroking their hair in a direction opposite to the way it laid on their back.”

“I am sure we did not use a wet towel and do not recall holding pups in different positions or “tickling their toes” as he describes.”

If you want to raise a healthy, well adjusted puppy, look elsewhere for guidance. Biosensor/Early Neurological Stimulation is over-sold pablum being pitched by a guy who should keep to his expertise in prisons and stay away from “Get Amazing Dogs Quick with Only Seconds a Day” bullshit schemes.

All posts in this series:
Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: Quackery

Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: True Biosensor

Bad Science: Superdogs Are Made, Not Born

Bio-Sensor is Bad Science: The Failure of Super Dog

* * *
Comments and disagreements are welcome, but be sure to read the Comment Policy. If this post made you think and you'd like to read more like it, consider a donation to my 4 Border Collies' Treat and Toy Fund. They'll be glad you did. You can subscribe to the feed or enter your e-mail in the field on the left to receive notice of new content. You can also like BorderWars on Facebook for more frequent musings and curiosities.
* * *

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.