Jumping, No Thank You...I'm a Good Dog!

Is your dog jumping on your visitors? You tried everything? Nothing worked? I heard so many excuses to why a client's dog jumps on people and how he does not do it all the time...really? I've heard about year long training sessions, dog walkers hired to train a dog (cheap) and where the owner finally gives up and just puts the dog in a crate or in the laundry room while guests arrive....it should not be like that! Here are some hints to help your dog be a good dog.

Know the Difference in Behaviors: 

Friendly: (wagging tail, open mouth, exited, spinning, barking shaking head) I have to jump on you first to greet you! 

Unfriendly:  (tail high, mouth closed, ears back, standing tall on frond legs, hackles, stiff walk) I jump on you so you know it's me who runs the place...so pay attention/respect and I'm ok with you entering.

What to do?

Offer a holistic experience: Jumping on people to get attention is self rewarding. To keep the dog from jumping we have to treat the excitement behind this action. So reinforcing the dog to do an alternative behavior to get the rewarding attention he seeks is not always right if this action is driven by excitement. We also need to allow the dog to have his own experience of why the Holistic solution is better that the "lured one." We want to praise (using conditioned- and unconditioned-reinforcers) the dog for being calm, aware  and in any situation we see the dog relaxed. Once dog understands the concept:  "calm is better than excited"  we can start exercising a sit and stay cue near the door and move slowly closer to the door. Once we have a strong sit stay near the door we can start working on desensitization of the "visitor related" noises (steps, knock door, bell ringing, guest entering.) 

Management and success: It's important to be aware that the dog will be confused between the old habit and new job. As much he wants to do it right, reflex will take over in the beginning. Therefore we want to create a safe connection (leash, collar) between dog and the handler. Controlling the door environment is what we want to focus on. Strong recall, strong cues, strong connection.

Consequences: The reward:  All the dog wants is attention.....the best consequence of misbehaving in this scenario is removing attention (negative Punishment). All involved should be aware and precise....No eye contact, no touch, No verbal reinforcer, No  correction,  no free toys or food that the dog can reach to reward himself if he doesn't get what he wants at the door....

Consistency: Repetition is the best way to imprint the dogs new job description and override dogs old reflex. Take time to wait for your dog to relax before you do the next step....consistency is the best way to help your dog to succeed. 

Still not sure what to do? Do you need some help? 

Contact me and set up an appointment....Its never to late to help your dog succeed!