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Just curious to hear from the other positive method trainers here. I just re-read Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash." I first read it right after we got Shanoa, and realized I'd forgotten quite a bit of it. I was surprised to read how often she uses things like body blocking. I know quite a few people who use positive methods who absolutely will not use stuff like that, as they consider it too intimidating. However, I've found body language to be quite effective with Shanoa, and she doesn't seem to be psychologically scarred by it. For example, if she's being a real pest and whining, sometimes I can just use a hard stare at her until she chooses to lie down. Or, I've used body blocking to teach her to stay out of my space under certain circumstances.

What about the rest of you? Do you use that type of "psychological pressure" that using your body can produce? I'm truly curious, based on how appalled some of my training friends are that I would stare down my dog.
 
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joie de vivre
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I'm don't abide by 100% all positive training methods but I do strongly favor it for puppies and I tend to use positive methods as an initial go to response in training. I figure if something positive works - great. If not, I adjust my approach and methods based on the dog I'm training with and what works for them.

Anyway, I do use body blocking with both my girls. I don't find it intimidates them at all. I tend to use it when they are ridiculously excited and their ears cease to work. Then I just position myself in such a way that forces them acknowledge what I expect. I use body blocking with Fiona a lot to force her to give up space to me and move where I want - raising my voice wouldn't even register with Fiona.

I could raise my voice with Tali and get her attention when she's excited but there's no need - it hurts her feelings and she shuts down. But she's very responsive and understanding about body blocking and hand signals.

I don't stare down Tali. Again, she's softer and that kind of behavior makes her uncomfortable. I stare at Fiona when I'm making a dead serious point though and she listens, without being shaken by it. She can sense when I'm serious and she'll hold my gaze and come and sit right in front of me. She doesn't show signs of being bothered by it that I can tell. She literally stares right back and sits directly in front of me, chest facing me, feet pointed forward at me, ears up and alert, and she'll stay there until released. And I don't tell her to come or sit, nor do I lay a hand on her in any way, shape, or form. It's just what she does when I give her 'the look'. She doesn't get it often, but she knows exactly what it is.

I think it depends heavily on the individual dog as well as how some methods are carried out by the handler. Everyone carries themselves differently and I sense a varying intensity from person to person - I'm certain dogs sense it as well. So differing personalities may find specific people more or less intimidating in the implementation of various training methods. It's why I don't subscribe to one specific method or style. I try to find what resonates with both of me and the specific dog I'm working with. It gets complicated (for a novice like me anyway) when I'm training two different personaliities day after day in the same sports because I have to be able to switch back and forth and be creative with each dog based on who they are and my connection with them as individuals. It's a lot of work but it's really rewarding and I've learned so much in the last few years. And I'm sure I've not even scraped the ice burg for what more there is to learn.

Anyway, I digress... :)
 

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I think dogs pick up on so much, and it's probably more than we realize. Dakota seems to be very in-tune with what we're doing, and she picks up on our senses quite easily. If I'm upset, but don't say anything, she will sometimes come up and just rest her head on me, or lick my hand. If I'm angry, but don't say anything, she will cower, if I'm upset with her, even if I don't think I am letting anything on at all... So I think it's very important to learn as much as possible about canine language, and how our interactions are interpreted by our dogs. I know my girl is very keen on this stuff, if she's not sure of something, and she looks to me, most times I don't need to vocalize anything, she can tell if what she is doing ok just by the way I look at her, and she'll either stop, or proceed.

Point is, I use this type of non-verbal communication all the time, and I don't see a problem with it as long as you are not doing it in a mean, intimidating type of way. Listen, if you're being a dick, you're being a dick, whether you're talking or using body language. But if you are able to effectively communicate with your dog in a way that is natural to him/her, I don't see the problem. If I was unable to speak, I could still effectively communicate most of the things I would verbalize to my dog, and I think that is important, and I also find that body language/hand signals etc. seem to be a more effective way to communicate. You wanna see Dakota go from zero to ape shxt in a millisecond, play bow that lil girl! lol

As far as staring down a dog, I think it needs to be put in context, like I said above. Staring down a random, strange dog is a good way to get yourself bit... Staring down a soft, submissive dog that misbehaved may end up with a puddle on your floor... Staring down a well balance, even tempered dog that just stole something off your coffee table, may not be a problem at all. It's not something that I really do, intentionally at least, if I'm mad, sometimes I'll kinda glare and point a finger, but Dakota is so submissive (the casual observer would never in a million years believe this lol ) that I have to be very careful with what I do. When I'm upset, she typically won't look at me, she'll do the lay down, ears back, and try to glance at me out of the corner of her eye. She may seem like the most confident, courageous dog in the world, but she will pee herself if I yell at her, so I don't yell at her. Everything needs to be scaled around your dog.
 

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I body block for space like the kitchen if they dont get out. I used that technique for getting them off the fence line when they were barking out of control. I did it consistently for a week or more teaching them "enough." It worked and its great! I dont stare down too often with my three. But they know what it is. It would depend on which one it was and what they were doing. Each one is different as stated above. My grandpup, Dexter, is the high drive and I probably have stare downs with him a couple times a day when he is over. It is mostly when he is trying to decide if he can get me to play a game of chase to get him off the couch/bed I told him to get off of. So he does a quick play bow and hops off. Or when he knows he isnt suppose to have those paws on the edge of the counter to see what I am fixing. The stare doesnt bother him at all.
 

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If body blocking means, using ones persona or body language to control the dogs movements or behavior (with your eyes and stance posture):
Than yes...it is in my bag of tricks, maybe in two ways.
- automatically &/or subconsciously
- deliberate infrequently
a) I will stand with my legs spread in the kitchen, when my wife is feeding the little dogs home cooked meals, we babysit (for my son).
Trevor (YorkiePoo) likes to steal Amy's &/or his sister's food, and I keep his movements in check, by blocking his initial movement...then he gives up trying. After a dog walks away, from the empty dish, any dog is allowed to re-lick a bowl clean.
b) This morning it was raining hard, and Amy didn't want to go into the backyard for a morning pee.
Once I got her in the normal potty area, she tried repeatedly to sneak into the house.
So I blocked her with my body stance, to send her into the open rain, instead of her hiding under the overhang of the sunroom.

Amy reads me like a book.
I am currently doing a reno on a ranch house, to retire in...and Amy knows when I plan to head out of town, in my truck.
She barks her head off, not wanting to be left behind...often if its warm enough, I let her sit in my 4x4, at the job site.
But my schedule is very flexible / sometimes I have a trades person starting at 9am while other times I drop out in the afternoon.
I can go outside several times in the morning, and the moment my brain is thinking, its time to go for a truck ride...she seems to know...without me even touching the keys.

Amy is fine with me staring at her, she stares back and doesn't even blink...she just sees it as more positive attention, from Dad.
Sometimes if she is slow to listen, I will try and put a mad face on, other times I wear the happy smile (showing my teeth)...all good.
I really never get mad at Amy, and like the timing of a correction (needs to be made in 1.5 seconds or less).
My energy of dissappointment, is only held for a few seconds, at most. (no grudges are held, quickly back to normal / slate wiped clean)
My strongest training skill is probably my voice pitch...which I rely on often...to project my clear desire or intentions.
Amy longs for my communication...and I am always talking to her, throughout the day (just like having a child, in the house 24/7).
Nothing I do with our old girl, would make her feel uncomfortable (except cutting her toe nails...lol)...we have full trust in each other.
 

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Yes, I have no problem using things like body blocking, moving into their space, etc. Depending on the dog, depends on what I'd do. Hard stares aren't something I would do typically though. I turn sideways for jumping dogs, so feet slide off. If I don't want a dog (AHEM HAVOC) in my lap I lean forward so he cant get up. Repeat until he gets it.

I did have a friend hard stare Flirt once in the face though. THANK YOU LORD Flirt is a nice dog. But really...idiot friend, don't hard stare a strange DOG in the FACE. This is not related to what you do, just a rant :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would consider the "hard stare" at Shanoa a punishment. She doesn't seem particularly bothered by it, but she does respond by stopping what she was doing. Maybe "hard stare" isn't even the right description, as I don't try to make my eyes "hard." In any case, I would never do that to another dog. I don't use it on Simon as he's a very soft dog and even a harsh word to him is pretty much a correction.

I'd love to hear more about what, specifically, all of you guys do was far as using your body to direct your dog. It can be really effective, and I think I could incorporate more of it into our life.
 
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One of the places I train is all positive reinforcement training. Body blocking is one of the techniques that they teach us to use while teaching "off"/"leave it".
 

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joie de vivre
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Yes, I have no problem using things like body blocking, moving into their space, etc. Depending on the dog, depends on what I'd do. Hard stares aren't something I would do typically though. I turn sideways for jumping dogs, so feet slide off. If I don't want a dog (AHEM HAVOC) in my lap I lean forward so he cant get up. Repeat until he gets it.

I did have a friend hard stare Flirt once in the face though. THANK YOU LORD Flirt is a nice dog. But really...idiot friend, don't hard stare a strange DOG in the FACE. This is not related to what you do, just a rant :)
Agreed. A million times over. Fiona has growled at strangers who stare her down. She's always been on leash so I'm able to just move on with her but I always have to wonder what in the world some people are thinking when they do that!
 

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I'ved used body blocking while doing things like teaching Elka not to rush out an open door.

Using body blocking to break line of sight, though? She just leans to one side or another, feet still planted in a sit, with her shoulders and that swan-like Doberneck. I can't see how it works unless you've got a pug. :lol2:
 

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Body blocking can be very useful. I've used it a ton when working in dog daycare. I can only make myself look so big(small-framed female) so it doesn't work 100% of the time on some dogs that just don't care, but for the majority using your body language before even uttering a word can get a dog to obey.
 

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When Amy was a puppy, two GSD/byb tried to maul her.
(years later the pair seriously injured, an innocent lady very badly...at a garage, one night)

I got my girl behind me and used my body as a human shield, to protect her.
I went into a "karate kid" stance (45 degree) with my forearm held under my chin and pumped out my chest / staring or keeping my eyes on the pair of charging dogs, towards me.
I made myself as big as possible, and offered one arm for their attack...can't remember, what words I yelled out now.
I showed I was clearly going to stand my ground (fight if need be), I controlled my fear, with confidence instead...my posture and voice had authority or strength.
(not run away...in a show of weakness...and get bite from behind...with no chance of much defence)

The charging attack dogs, stoped in their tracks...several feet from me.
 

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Yes, I most definitely use body blocking and moving into space. I rarely use it now because I only have Murphy, and he's a mellow 10 year old. When I was fostering, though, I used it quite often. I found it to a very effective hands off/non verbal method, the dogs seemed to "get it" right away.
 

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Words are for people, body language is the universale language in the animal world. Scent plays a big part with dogs. It is possible to have a complete relationship with your dog and only have one sound, and that sound is for no. So now ask yourself is positive training necessary and is it really all positive.

Body blocking is a non-verbal no. Now its probably me, but how do you say no positively.

So when you stare at your dog when you are mad, its not the stare that gets the dog, its everything else. Facial expression, body stance, and even scent that tells the dog your unhappy with it. We spend so much time trying to get our dogs to stare at us that if staring could emotionally scar a dog we wouldnt be able to teach that behavior in the first place. Did you ever notice that when you get angry with your dog the first thing it does is smell you?

Living with dogs is so rewarding for many people. Those of us that have discovered dobermans, twice so. If you want to understand how much non-verbal communication actually does go on between you and your dobie, try to go through as much of a day as you can with no words between you and your dog. You will learn alot. If you make this a regular exercise, the bond between you and your dog strengthens ten fold.
 

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Yes, definitely. I use body-blocking to keep them from rushing out doors and to keep them out of rooms I don't want them in. Similarly I use what some people call "yielding" which is teaching them to get out of my dang way - and stay out from under my feet when I'm walking. Instead of moving around them, I walk "through" them - NOT kicking/hitting them with my legs, but just sort of bending me knees and walking straight through them until they learn to stay out of my path.

Like a lot of dobes Ziggy was a pretty bad jumper when he was younger. I tried turning but it didn't seem to help much. What DID help was stepping into him - it's hard to time, but done correctly it was pretty effective - if he started to jump at me I would just raise a knee and step forward into him and he learned pretty fairly not to invade my space like that.
 
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