This week I’m turning my blog over to Crystal Saling, a font of wisdom about the dog training process in general, and first-hand observer of how Frankie and I are dealing with it in particular. We inspired her to wonder:
Are you inadvertently sabotaging your dog’s training?
It happens so frequently that even professional dog trainers catch themselves doing it.
There are two main ways to sabotage even the best of training plans. The first way is to accidentally reinforce behaviors that you don’t want. The best example of this is when an owner who is wearing gardening clothes pets a dog that is jumping up, but yells at the same dog for jumping up when he or she is wearing nice clothes.
The second way people sabotage training plans is by accidentally punishing the behavior they are trying to encourage. Here is where Edie and Frankie come in. Edie lives in a noisy area and we are trying to get Frankie feeling comfortable walking to the car. I noticed in the comments section to last week’s post that Edie replied to a concern for Frankie’s safety by stating that she has been using body blocking to keep Frankie from going through the front door.
Sure enough, during their subsequent lesson, I observed Edie body blocking Frankie.
If you know anything at all about positive training you may be asking: “What is wrong with body blocking?” After all, it’s considered a positive training technique championed by industry giants such as Patricia McConnell and Victoria Stilwell.
While considered benign, it is anything but when you are trying to teach a dog that the door and what lies beyond it is a safe place with nothing to be afraid of. Frankie is a small dog — about 10 lbs. Compared to him, Edie is a giant (no offense Edie)! One slight movement of Edie’s shin was all it took for Frankie to skitter off in the opposite direction. Body blocking is actually scaring Frankie and conditioning fear-based emotions near the door.
To solve this problem, I advised Edie to always have a leash on Frankie when she opens the door so that she can either hold it or step on it. That will prevent any accidents with Frankie and get rid of the need to body block him.
Bio: Crystal Saling is the owner/proprietor of Delightful Dog LLC in Tucson, Arizona. She is a CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed), KPA CTP (Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner). She is a contributor to Dogster’s Good Dog Blog.