For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
Body Blocks?
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    So in my various readings, I have come across "body blocks". I watched some videos and it seems like a good thing to do, but my biggest questions is when not to use it. What type of dogs would this not work on, or might escalate a situation? When would this not be effective? Those kinds of things.
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    When you say body blocks do you mean like blocking a dog from bolting out the door with your body and blocking access to food bowls with your body???
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    That seems to be some of them. From what I read, Body Blocks is just another word for herding and has uses for leash walks as well as creating your space when they do something like jump up on your lap. Patricia McConnell also mentioned using your elbows and shoulders to push a dog away in that situation rather than using your hands because hands are a way of initiating play. There seem to be a myriad of uses according to her, but so far I have only seen videos of the on you specifically mentioned: using your legs/body to block access to zooming out the door or walking them away when you don't want them to beg or something like that.
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    The only time I use the body blocking technique is when I'm trying to stop Mochi from running out the door but I usually just chase her away from it and she thinks I'm playing lol
    I know Cesar Milan uses the body blocking technique sometimes but the way he does it, I feel as if he's towering over the dog causing it to feel uncomfortable. The reason he does that is because he wants to assert dominance and as most forum members already agreed on, that along with Cesar's techniques have been the least helpful when training Shibas.
    I think it really depends on the situation because using your body does prevent your dog from bolting out the door but it's better to train your dog not to do that (we are struggling to perfect this with our dog :)) ).
    I don't think constantly using your body to shoo away a dog from begging or from an area will have good results. Shibas are quick at picking things up and it is possible they may react negatively from your body because they know they'll lose "that spot" once you block them off...it's possible they may start to guard when you begin to body block.

    And you know there's that stubborn side to Shibas too so blocking one with your body will only work for so long because they'll already be thinking of ways to outsmart you and even if you do end up succeeding, they'll just come right back
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    Well, according to Patricia McConnell, who basically started coining the idea, Cesar isn't completely wrong. According to her, the purpose of body blocks is to take space. In her book, she discusses how those who are in the lead (not alpha lead) generally use this method to take space and direct the other dogs where to go/how to behave. Considering the fact that in most packs, the leaders are often the parents, this makes sense. It is a highly recommended technique for training from what I have read, and most likely, your dog is already doing it to you. Just like in human interactions (from what I have read) invading personal space in attempts to demand things and/or without permission is considered extremely rude and disrespectful. This seems to be the case in most social animals, from what I gather.

    In essence, you are not shooing the dog away. You are communicating with the dog and telling them that either "this isn't safe" or "keep away from this" or "don't do that." It is far more effective, according to what I have read, because dogs are primarily visual so you are using their language to let them know. It is quick, and it is also good for preventing bad situations in say, a dog park, etc, if you know what to look for and how to assert your body.

    I used this technique without even knowing what it was to prevent Coal from chewing on his water bottle. Nothing else worked--wasabi, redirection---he was obsessed with his crinkle toy but, well, that IS his water bottle for drinking. So I finally just stood up and placed myself between him and it. This was when he was younger, so I had no fear of being bitten lol. Anyway, long-story short--he has only tried to chew on the water bottle once since that one time I did body blocking.

    Now, I had no clue what I was doing at the time. It was just something that I decided to try because nothing else was working. Now that I know it is a valid technique, I want to know more about it. Sadly, I have only found a couple of videos and they mostly focused on pushing the dog away from something with your body. One lady used it with a pit that was overly loveable, and when he was being too aggressive with his petting, she would raise up her body firmly--just standing on her knees. Her whole body became a stiff, authoritative figure and the dog backed off. She would sit down as the dog relaxed, and then relax her own body when she saw he had gotten the message. After a moment, she called him over happily and continued cuddling. As long as he didn't nip or bite or get overly excited, she continued to cuddle and give him affection, but when he got too much to handle, she asserted herself.

    I am curious about it because I use something very similar in class with kids. My body posture changes completely when I am attempting to convey that they are not behaving appropriately. This is because my Japanese is limited, so I can't communicate effectively with them verbally. Between my broken Japanese and my body language, they understand and usually calm down (humans are far harder to "herd" than dogs haha)

    Another thing Patricia talks about is using your body blocking to teach proper leash etiquette. She argues that using only the leash teaches the dog that the leash is directing him, not you. Using your body puts you more in command and you have less trouble because you are effectively "speaking" to the dog rather than jerking/yanking on the leash to direct him. I really want to see this in effect so that I can teach my husband to do it. I found a single video on this technique, so it seems like the dog needs to be closer for it to be effective. BUT there are times when the dog will cross your path to try to direct you in a way they want to go and this technique would be far better than yanking him in the direction you want. He would watch you more because he would be looking for your "words".

    From the way she presented it, and from what I have been able to find, it seems like a really good tool and I want to incorporate it into my tool box--however, I want to know when it is appropriate and how to effectively use it, especially since my hyper little guy is still relearned boundaries. She mentioned not to use such a technique if your dog bites you. Coal did bite, but he seems to be getting that under control and he didn't bite aggressively.

    Wow...sorry that was long.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    On Shiba's. Shibas are still dogs and use their bodies to communicate. This isn't about "shooing" them away, it is about establishing boundaries. However, while watching a couple of videos of a guy herding dogs away, I noticed his legs were widely set and the first thought I had was "most smart dogs would zip right through those legs" lol. But I am willing to bet that the idea is that if the dog moves center, you close your legs.

    The fact that this was very effective with Coal leads me to believe that there is more validity in Patricia's argument (using dog language to communicate your desires such as don't do this/that). So I want to know more.

    I think that, like treats, this technique is very misunderstood and needs to be investigated more. Many people are against treats as bribery, but this simply isn't the case. I think the same can be said for body blocks--most people see it as shooing away, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
    Post edited by Anjyil at 2017-03-17 23:45:58
  • JackStateJackState
    Posts: 101
    I do it all the time. Yeah body blocking's most classic use is keeping dogs from bolting through an opened door (or even back inside if they, say, make it onto the porch and run into even more humans).

    Ichabod is not always 100% cooperative with bed time (stemming from a separate issue from this topic: that over time his preferred time to really actively play has gradually shifted to later and later in the evening [night, even]. Lazy pup stares at the ball thrown at 6 PM; crazy pup is like a tweaker chasing the ball at 9 PM). Anyway, I don't carry him to the bedroom when he's not floppy/sleepy pup; I herd him by kind of shuffling behind him and he gets the idea even though he's looking back like he wishes there were an opening. When I invariably remember that his dog-bed is back in the other room and go retrieve it, he tries to escape and we repeat the process. This is a case of "I want (to be in the living room)" and body blocking works pretty well for it.

    I also body block when it's raining (or worse, cold [40 °F] and windy!) and he doesn't want to wear the harness and get wet (normally he'll ring the jinglebells at the door to ask for potty within 30 minutes of us getting home, but not when it's raining). Compared to herding/body blocking into the bedroom, it's a lot harder here because he's very motivated to evade me by his mild dislike of the harness and his strong dislike of the rain. It sounds and feels mean, but if I don't enforce his regular potty time (he refuses the subsequent walk) he'll crawl under the bed and just cry until his bladder forces him to bite the bullet. He feels better every time; as soon as we return from the rain he bounds off to the play area and summons me. The takeaway is this is a case of "I really don't want (to be led outside to the wet/cold)" and body blocking does not work nearly as well for us there. I have to either be patient/tactical or take scary sudden movements (lunges into the path he was about to take) in an imposing/authoritative stance to get him to stop evading, but the latter really doesn't feel good and would probably be also be triggering to a defensive dog.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1235
    I think Shibas are very sensitive to body language in general so I'm sure they get the point but I wouldn't use it if the dog was already aggravated by something because it may be interpreted as aggressive from your side, depending on how you do it.

    I've tried it on purpose when Juni has been sniffing a bush for too long and I got bored and stepped in and "claimed" the bush. She immediately let it go.
    But on the other hand she sometimes seems to misinterpret situations. If we sit down next to her to give her a pet she seems to believe we claim her spot and move as in "oh I'm sorry I didn't know you wanted this spot".

    I am not sure how it would be done in leash training, it seems difficult to try and move in ahead of the dog all the time. Another thing to try is something almost opposite, when your dog pull towards something you can sit behind and gently put one hand on his back and gradually start press harder and harder. It creates a reaction in the dog to push back against you. I've started doing that when Juni finds rabbits or deers and gets super excited and wants to rush forward. I press and instead of pulling forward she pushes backwards.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    @JackState Wow, Ichabod seems like lots of fun XD Coal didn't care for the rain, but he never up such a fight! We had the crazy zoomies at night for a while, but now he is mostly calm. Age thing? I tend to always choose the patient/tactical.

    @Juni That is what I figured and I am trying to read and teach myself to read body language more effectively so I don't make a miss step. While playing with Coal, he would try to go places he shouldn't so I used the herding methods I have been able to visually watch. It seemed to work really well, and he was relaxed enough that there was no issue. He would move and not go back to that area, either, so I think it is a great tool. I just don't want to use it at the wrong time. I will keep that in mind about aggravated dogs. I take it that might be the same for a food-obsessed dog that gets to hyper, too ;)

    From what I heard and saw on walking, it will be most effective if the dog is walking beside you as you can steer them left/right/etc. The videos I saw had the dogs in a heel walk, but I think it doesn't have to be so show-dog strict. Still trying to find more examples ^_^
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    I'm sharing some of the videos I found on Body Blocking. If anyone else has any resources or information to share on the technique, please do. :)

    Look at near the 1.50 mark


    The woman who started it all, using it to teach a stay command.


    Walking with Body Blocking


    Don't touch the turkey


    There was another one of a guy teaching people to body block hyper dogs that jump on them when they sit, and he didn't show the faces of the people he worked with, but I can't find it now.

    It seems so silly that you can find written articles, but so few videos. Visual stuff should have visual explanations XD
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1235
    The first video I didn't like at all, I found it quite passive aggressive, the "play" is without any sense of fun and the dog looks miserable and tense in the crating part.


    The second one is ok, especially for big dogs, but you can just as easily teach leave it by sitting down and put a hand over the treat if the dog tries to grab it. Especially with a smaller dog because you want to teach them it pays off to give you eye contact and that is easier to figure out if you are at their level

    The rest I didn't watch.
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    For some reason, I am surprised that you didn't like Patricia McConnell video ^_^ she has been well praised on this site quite a few times. But she was teaching stay, I believe, or leave it--not sit. Either way, there are better ways to teach it. I just did small steps with Coal, and he picked up quick. Leave it will be more difficult for him, I think, but I don't think I will need body blocking for that.

    I agree, the second one I was watching was kind of iffy on somethings, but I was just curious as to when and how she used the technique and not the rest of it. Checking out the crating, the dog seemed fine. I think the blurriness and the angle is awkward more than anything. His lips were relaxed, though his eye brows were twitching upward a little, but it is hard to tell for certain since it is so dark in there.

    Anyway, these are the only visual examples that I have been able to find. I have found a couple of articles, but they don't explain anything really, or even if they do, there is no visual so it is kind of a loss on me. I am terrible at following written instructions/tips for visual stuff.
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
    Your Shiba may be like mine, and not a big fan of affection. I have been able to address a few unwanted behaviors as a puppy (like biting) just by giving him cuddling.

    Leave it and stay are good commands, but a bit of a challenge to train your Shiba to do consistently (ie: perfect response to a single verbal command).

    Sit is a relatively easy command to train, and can serve all these purposes simultaneously:
    1. Reset. Stop doing what you're doing
    2. Stop moving
    3. Look at me and listen to me

    Monkey!
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    @tatonka Actually, he does like affection most of the time. He loves the spot behind the back of his ear ^_^ Oh and his rump lol. I have stay, and leave it is next. I am just looking into other techniques to help with other situations as well. It is a fascinating concept to me, and sometimes something like a body block will be faster to implement than a command :)

    I like to check out other methods as long as they are not aversive.
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    I think every dog is different because Mochi (clever girl :p ) figured out how to dodge my body blocks so nowadays it's difficult to get her to do what I want to accomplish with the body blocking technique. I recently stopped because I noticed that recently like a week or two ago, whenever I would place myself between her and whatever I was blocking, she would bark ALOT and get really tense. So now, I use the body blocking technique when I REALLY have to. Its not like I even back her away or anything. I just stand in between to prevent her from getting past me.
    Post edited by Mochi920 at 2017-03-18 18:07:58
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 986
    I don't like body blocking as trying to be in an assertive position or anything haha. Like I don't want my body to be a hindrance for my dog. I don't want to teach him to back off when I'm occupying a space, I like him in my space. :)) though, sometimes I will use my body to block him from watching something distracting. Like if we're on a walk and a squirrel runs by, and he becomes fixated on it, I will sometimes step between him and the squirrel and encourage him to move away from it. If it's out of his sight, he's a lot more willing to leave it alone and move on. But now I can usually just say "let's go."
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 478
    @Mochi920 yeah, every dog is different and it is so important to adjust to the dog's temperament and personality. Timing and mood are important. It is great that you figured out what worked for Mochi ^_^

    @Lilikoi That is actually a good point! I saw it mentioned that sometimes dogs end up generalizing it to the point where they misinterpret what you mean when you move. I think if someone is moving it *that* much, they are using it TOO much. Only here and there, like as you described, over-distracted. :) I definitely wouldn't use this for everything, but that is a big reason why I want to see more details about it so that I can guage when it is appropriate or necessary. I think it might have to be intuitive. Like Mochi pointed out, every dog is different!
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    @lilikoi oh only if mine would give me my space lol i tell her to move and she's just like nope.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Who's Online (3)