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Friday, July 29, 2011

Dog Jumping, and not through hoops!

My dog's do not jump so I am using Miss Bella who gives a good dance!
For my friend, this is for you Kerri!  Set em straight!

Many dog owners have dogs that jump up on us and all the while the humans, the intelligent breed, are shouting, “No! Get Down!”  only to find that the dog is still constantly  jumping up with the next encounter.  Hmmm, make you wonder why it doesn’t stop when you continuously tell the dog no?  

I will explain why using a child to adult example since toddlers and dogs are a lot alike and I work with children, adults, and dogs.

Example: You see your toddler take a crayon and start to write on your wall and she’s two inches from hitting your Great Aunt Lucy’s highly valued, million dollar picture!   (Okay, okay I exaggerated! only worth a million to the family!) You yell, “No, don’t do that!” At that moment the child may stop because of the tone of voice you used, or because that got her some type of attention, and it did not matter if it was good or bad attention,  the child stops what she’s  doing, puts the crayon down and goes about her business. Two hours later, you catch the child again only with chalk and she is writing on the wall! 

Jeeze! You just told her ‘No!’ two hours ago, what gives?

If you’re a reader of my dog blog, you will remember me often using these words in previous articles.

Toddlers and Dogs are alike in many ways. They need to be taught and reminded often.

So in the scenario above, you can hide all the crayons from the toddler but I am sure she will find something else to write with as she did the chalk, but look at the key ingredient in the lesson you want her to learn, what is missing?

You have just told the child “No, don’t do that!” But in the example above did you tell the child what she could do instead? Did you provide maybe a chalk board hooked on the wall and show her she could use that instead of crayons on the wall? No, you did not; you only told her she could not write on the wall when she was using a crayon.

Now, put your dog in a similar situation, the dog is jumping on you, you get irritated and push the dog away or tell the dog no, and shout anything at the top of your lungs ‘cuz you’re sick of being jumped on.   But with all the pushing, shoving and yelling, what you have shown the dog is that this behavior will get him recognized! Dogs like instant gratification and if you touch, talk to, or make eye contact at the moment the dog is acting out, you have reinforced that bad behavior.

  You should have taught the dog what he could do rather than to jump up to get your attention. Something such as sit and stay until you give a release command.    In many situations we are quick to tell the dog to stop doing something out of frustration, but think how frustrating it is for the dog who is only acting on the very behavior you once rewarded?  Albeit unknowingly.

 Think about it, when the dog was a puppy and he jumped up and licked you all over, you probably thought that was cute, you may have laughed and allowed it to happen a few times which is the dog’s cue that it is okay. Even if only one person in the family allows this to happen, your dog sees it as something he does that gets rewarded.

What to do about it?

The first thing is to ignore that behavior and don’t give the dog the chance to be in that situation. This means you have to spend time teaching the command sit, only then does the dog get your attention as a reward.

Basic obedience training can go a long way and keep your pup from getting into trouble and keep him out of harms way.

Sally? You ask.  I did not take the time to train my dog in obedience so now what can I do?

 I am glad you asked as life is not over as you once knew it!

What you will need: Patience, A leash, a cup of hot dog slivers small enough for the dog to get down in one gulp without chewing, and a quiet room.

Attach a leash to the dog’s collar, let the other end lay on the ground ask the dog to sit, if he does not sit, hold the hot dog sliver  over the dog’s head making him look straight up, eventually he will sit and the minute his butt starts to move to the floor, praise and reward with the hot dog. If there is still a problem and he does not sit, as some dogs will just keep backing up to look at the treat, place the dog near a wall so he cannot back up thereby making him sit as he moves into the wall. Praise and reward. Gradually when you see he understands the command, move him away from the wall and ask him to sit. Praise and reward.  Some dogs will try jumping at any cost and here is where the leash comes in handy, just where the leash and the floor meet, take your foot and step on the lead, this will prevent the dog from jumping, give him the sit command and praise and reward immediately when he sits. 

 As humans, we often do not give the dog the time to figure out what we want from them so we tend to repeat the command. Don’t do that! This will confuse the dog as to when you really want him to sit, the first, second, or third time you ask. Give the command once and wait for him to figure it out. He will! He wants that hot dog!  Do not give human food at any other time except for training.

Remember, dogs do not carry over what they learn from one place to another so if the dog sits in a quiet bedroom, it does not mean he will in the living room so it is important   that you train the dog in every spot you want him to listen to you in. Also have patience enough to let him figure out what you are asking of him and do not rush it.

Praise and Reward must come immediately while in training. Also remember that ‘down’ and ‘off’  are two separate commands that you will eventually teach the dog and off is what you want to use if you see him jumping on someone.   

Here’s some more good news! If you have more than one dog doing the jumping, and you train only one dog not to jump, then bring the two dogs together, the minute that other jumper sees his buddy getting a treat for sitting, he will try a sit too!

For easy step by step instructions on basic positive obedience training using a clicker go to  the clicker costs about 3 dollars in a pet store, pick up a bulk pack of hot dogs, freeze them and defrost for training so there is no waste.  Everyone in the home must be on board with your training or they will undo everything you have worked on. So have that family meeting and if all don’t agree, send the trouble makers to the dog house!

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