Monday, May 9, 2016

Does your dog have a Jumping problem?

Most dogs engage in friendly jumping as a way to greet people or play with them. First and foremost, most dogs have been trained to jump-up since puppyhood. When the young pup jumped and pawed, most people patted it on the head and scratched it behind the ear, because they were too lazy to bend down to puppy level. And then one day the dog dutifully jumps-up to greet its owner, who in turn greets the friendly furry with a whop on the butt or a knee in the chest. The dog’s only crime? It grew!

Pawing, licking, and jumping-up are all friendly appeasement gestures – the dog’s way of saying “Welcome home. Pleased to see you. Please accept my presence. Please don’t hurt me.” By punishing your dog for jumping up, the dog has two reasons to show deference – the initial reason and the fact it must now appease an angry owner. And how does it try to appease the owner? By pawing, licking, and jumping-up! This is one of the many paradoxes in training – the more one punishes the dog, the more the behavior increases in frequency.

In the case of jumping on guests, jumping must be prevented 100 percent of the time, but you may not be capable of doing so 100 percent of the time. Let me introduce the concept of “training mode” and “non-training mode.” Training mode is where you actively work on the exercises you have been assigned when guests arrive, and a non-training mode is where you practice management, perhaps having the dog crated in another room when guests arrive, rather than actively attempting to train. You should be in training mode 80 to 90 percent of the time, and in management mode infrequently, such as during a dinner party when training is impractical.

The dog must have a clear understanding of the alternate behavior you prefer. In this case, a Sit or Sit-Stay is an appropriate alternate behavior. The stronger the sit and sit-stay behaviors are by the front door without guests present, the more likely the dog will be to perform the behavior when guests are present. It is essential you reward your dog for being calm in the presence of people.

Begin practicing the Sit and Sit-Stay cues at or near the front door when no guest is present. Make sure the dog gets plenty of obedience practice in all greeting locations he has failed in before or where he is likely to greet guests in the future. Working basic obedience exercises around mild distractions (e.g., opening and closing the front door) will also teach the dog to focus on you and help develop impulse control. This will be beneficial when you begin working with visitors.

Once you see your dog has begun to understand the cues in the appropriate places, test them out! Upon returning to your home, instruct your dog to sit, and delay greeting the dog until it does so. If your dog sits, gently praise the dog. If your dog does not sit, keep trying until he does. Do what it takes – take hold of the dog’s collar and keep hold until the dog complies. This is no more difficult than routinely dealing with the dog in everyday distracting situations. Only this time, you shall persevere, and eventually, your dog will sit and be suitably praised for its trouble. Other reprimands and punishments are neither necessary nor advisable. Your dog will soon learn he has to sit before you will begin to say hello.

Once your dog’s exuberance has waned following the customary display of sniffs, licks, wags and wiggles, slip out of the house by the back door, ‘return home’ via the front door once more and request your dog to assume the appropriate position. This time, however, it should be much easier to get your dog to sit as he is not nearly as excited by your return because he has only just greeted you seconds beforehand. After greeting your dog for the second time, leave and repeat the procedure a third time, and then once more and so on. Your dogs performance will improve with each repeated re-entry.
Post by Heather at