Monday, May 14, 2012

Training tips for some bad doggy behavior: Jumping

The bad behavior.
Leopold, at one point, was a jumper. He would get excited when we or other people first walked through the door and would jump up on us with enthusiasm. It’s true, we didn’t always mind and none of our guests got angry about the behavior (some would even explain that they have a dog and it was ok). But I was worried that someday Leopold, weighing over 65lbs, would jump on someone like say Grandma and knock her to the ground. Or what about a small child? I decided that the jumping behavior had to stop.

The training.
Jumping, it turns out, is one of the easiest bad behaviors to correct. Jumping is really an attempt by the dog to get attention, and any petting done by the human is actually a reward, making the dog successful and the behavior more likely to occur next time. So, to stop the jumping, you need to ignore the dog. Absolutely no attention. Turn your back and ignore the dog. You can even cross your arms and look up to really let them know you’re not paying attention to them. If the dog tries to walk around and jump on you again, you turn your back to them again and continue ignoring the dog. Don’t push the dog off with your hands, as that could be seen as “play” by your dog and might be encouraging rather than corrective. After the dog stops jumping or maybe even sits, THEN give them the attention that they’re after. You’ve just rewarded polite, four-paws-on-the-ground behavior! Using this method of behavior correction, Leopold stopped jumping up on people after only a couple weeks. We haven’t had a problem with him since. Instead, he greets us at the door excitedly wiggling his body in every direction, but his paws never leave the ground. We did the same training with Halo as soon as she joined our household and was trained out of the bad jumping behavior in a similarly short time.

A training hurdle and how to (politely) jump it.
Over the years, I’ve found that the hardest part of training a dog is actually training all the people who come in contact with the dog. A dog is going to learn a lot better if everyone who interacts with it is on the same page. It only takes one household member to ruin a dog’s training or at least severely stymie progress. In our house, Chris and I have discussions about dog “rules”—rules on how we are going to react when Leopold or Halo exhibit a certain behavior. Of course, it’s easier to be on the same page for members of the same household, but what about the rest of the world? For the rest of the world (ie, guests), we would explain to them before entering the house that we were in the process of training Leopold to not jump. I’d warn people he might jump on them, and that they should turn their backs and ignore the behavior—to act as if jumping dogs don’t exist. Guests were always obliging and their help sped Leopold’s training along.

Training a dog TO jump.
I’ve heard some people say “I don’t mind if they jump on me” but then yell at the dog when it jumps on other people. How can a dog tell when it’s allowed to jump and when it’s not? I understand that it can be fun to have your dog jump up and place its paws on your hips or belly and then give you kisses; it’s almost like being hugged by your dog. I allow my dogs to jump on me, but only after I’ve given them a signal that it’s ok. I make them sit first, then pat my hips and say “up”. When I’m done giving affection, I put my hands in the air and say “off”. If you want to train your dog to do this, it’s a good idea to wait until your dog has first learned to keep its paws on the ground. And if you see your dog start jumping on people without being given a command, go back to no jumping at all.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! I really enjoyed reading it

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