Training in the Fraser Valley will have to be put on hold for a short while because trainer Amelia has given birth! This is Amelia’s 1st child, so we can’t predict how long her maternity leave might last, but we do apologize for not being there to help out with your new puppies and your older doggies who need training.
You must be consistent. You must use your leash. You must fall back on your dog’s basic obedience training. You can’t just do nothing, or expect the person being jumped on to do something. You need to make sure that your dog knows exactly what to do the next time they meet someone. Set them up for success, and prepare for the inevitable challenges that will arise.
If you are reading this article hoping to find out how to punish your dog for jumping up, finally ending the debate on which correction is most effective, you’re about to be sorely disappointed. I don’t recommend giving your dog a swift knee to the chest to wind them, nor do I recommend shooting them with a water gun, nor blinding them with lemon juice. I certainly don’t want you to grab their paws and squeeze hard until they cry out in pain. Don’t bother with a shock collar either, same goes for yelling at them, rolling them on their back, and anything else some guy at the park came up with too, even if he saw it on TV and he’s pretty sure that’s what worked for his dog. Let’s move forward with steps you can take that will make a difference in your dog’s behaviour, without unwanted consequences.
Step 1: Realize that your dog does things for a reason
The reason your dog is jumping up on people is pretty obvious. They want attention. They want to get closer to your face, they want dad to look at them, they want to smell and kiss your kid, and they want to get to know that stranger on the street. They know that, at least occasionally, someone will look down, say their name, bend toward them, and ultimately focus directly on them, perhaps even touching them. Even if they aren’t given attention, negative or otherwise, jumping is it’s own reward, it is a release of bottled energy that is intrinsically motivating.
Step 2: Reward alternate behaviours
Notice when your dog isn’t jumping up. Reward calmly with pets and attention, stopping the very moment your dog gets excited and thinks about jumping up.
People tend not to notice when their dog isn’t jumping up and fail to reward them, continuing on with conversations, staring at phones, waiting for the dog to get bored, jump up, whine, bark, and beg for attention.
Teach alternate behaviours. Telling your dog ‘off!’ each time they jump up is one thing, but it doesn’t teach them what to do instead of jumping up. It doesn’t give them the information they really need. They need to be told exactly what to do the next time an exciting human is around. They need a new way to get attention, and you need a new plan. Just waiting for your dog to jump up so that you can correct them isn’t good enough, you need to be proactive.
Begin by teaching your dog basic obedience commands like ‘sit’ and ‘down.’ Teach your dog to hold their ‘sit’ and ‘down’ position while you pet them briefly, before releasing and trying again, practicing until they can hold a ‘sit or down’ position while you pet them enthusiastically for increasingly longer periods. Once your dog has mastered that, move on to having a family member pet them.
Ask people to pet your dog, but tell them that in order to help you train your dog, they must pet only if your dog is sitting or lying down, whichever you’ve chosen. Note that if your dog is shy, fearful, or reactive, they will need a different protocol; this advice is for puppies and dogs that are overly friendly.
Start with calm, sober, single adults. A group of partyers or kids will likely be too stimulating for your dog, and too difficult for you to control. If your dog is having trouble holding their ‘sit/down’ position when an exciting person is introduced, ensure you practice when your dog is tired and hungry. Set them up for success by allowing them to nibble on a treat while they receive calm brief pets under their chin. Practice on-leash, stepping on it if necessary, leaving just enough slack for your dog to jump an inch or two off the ground.
Step 3: Teach the “OFF” cue
Teach your dog to respond to an “off” cue by luring them on and off of tree stumps, fences, walls, and concrete barriers. Say “Yes!” as they remove their paws from all kinds of things and reward with a treat.
While the “off” cue is helpful, be sure to manage your dog with a leash and obedience commands to prevent jumping up in the first place. Your dog may still try jumping up despite your best efforts to prevent it, in which case, the “off” cue should do the trick if your timing is good.
If not, and…
Your dog is jumping up on you: Ignore them. Raise or cross your arms and look upward, turn around, talk to someone else, walk away to do a chore, or pick up your phone and check Facebook (dogs hate that!) If they continue to jump up, leave the room. Avoid looking at them, talking to them, or touching them. Reward your dog with touching and attention when they give up on jumping up and try something else, like standing on all four paws, sitting, or lying down. Because jumping itself feels good, your dog will find it intrinsically rewarding to jump on you or someone else, so you must manage their behaviour with your leash and/or leaving the room if they continue to jump up after you’ve given the ‘off’ cue. Have them wear a leash around the house so that you can step on it.
Your dog is jumping up on your child or another person: Instruct everyone to ignore your dog as above and allow you to handle it. Try to say “off!” at the moment your dog thinks about jumping up. Don’t bother with punishments beyond verbal interruptions like “nope!” or “ah!” which are more than enough if you are consistent.
Be very matter of fact, go over and remove your dog, applying the leash and stepping on it if necessary. Do not instruct people to knee your dog in the chest, grab their paws, or to do anything else to your dog. You cannot expect that person to apply corrections effectively, and the attention your dog receives will confuse them.
If your dog is jumping up while you are seated or lying down: Teach your ‘off’ cue again in this new context, standing up if they don’t get off within 2 seconds. I like to hold my hands up high, palms facing the dog. Soon your cue ‘off,’ with your hands up, will signal to your dog to leave your lap and enjoy petting from the floor. Most people try to push the dog off, but your touch is exactly what your dog is seeking, holding your hands up will also remind you to avoid touching your dog.
Play ‘Go Wild & Freeze’
This fun game will teach your dog impulse control, solidify your ‘off’ cue, and reward your dog for the behaviours we like most with exactly the kind of attention dogs like most. If your dog or puppy is an especially avid jumper, tether your dog to something sturdy. Alternatively, play in a secure room or exercise pen so that you can easily step out if needed. The key is to set aside time to work on impulse control each day, rather than just waiting for the dog to jump up. Instead, start this game at a time when your dog isn’t jumping up. This game works for puppy biting too! All the same rules apply.
Go Wild: You’ll begin by petting and playing with your dog, trying to reach a 7/10 excitement level. You’ll keep playing until the very moment your dog jumps up or bites too hard.
Freeze: Suddenly stand up straight, hands in the air. This is the ‘off’ cue part of the game. This body language means that play, petting, and attention will resume only when the dog is calm, with 4 paws on the floor.
Once your dog is calm and isn’t trying to jump up, you’ll resume the game again, playing with them, jazzing them up, then stopping and standing up abruptly the very instant they think about jumping up again.
This game gives your dog plenty of feedback about which behaviours work, and which don’t, while allowing you to gain total control over your dog’s energy level, literally putting hyperactivity and calm behaviour on cue. This game also gives your dog more control over his impulse to jump up, and the game provides the practice and repetition needed for them to understand the ‘off’ cue. If your pup is especially excited and keeps jumping when you give the ‘off’ cue, back up or out of the room to ensure that they can’t continue earning rewards for jumping. The cessation of play is the best consequence you can offer. Time outs for dogs are typically less than 5 seconds. The timing will depend on how long it takes your dog to calm down.
While the key is to offer attention when our dogs are NOT seeking it, you must be careful to read your dog and know when they actually want to rest and when petting–or what level of vigor in your petting–will be rewarding. Sit next to your calm dog and pet them for a few seconds, if they walk away, they wanted to rest. If they get in your lap and follow you when you get up–they want more!
Pro-tip #1: Let your dog hold a toy when guests arrive.
This works particularly well for sporting dogs who love having a favourite stuffed toy to soothe them. Dogs who are holding a toy are less likely to bark at or jump up on guests, and if the toy is something disarmingly adorable, then how could aunt Margaret be scared of your sweet angel dog holding his baby ducky (or whatever).
Pro-tip #2: Scatter food to deflect a jumping dog
If a dog is about to jump up on you, being prepared with a fistful of treats to scatter on the floor can not only keep your dog on the floor, but can train them to focus downward instead of jumping up if done repeatedly (whenever you come through the door for instance).
Pro-tip #3: Expect Regression
Jumping up is a common behaviour problem, for a reason.
The reason your dog is still jumping up is the same reason you take another sip of coffee, even after the first 2 sips burned you. The rewarding taste of perfectly hot coffee is a well-worn memory. If your dog manages to earn a reward for jumping up, they will keep jumping up, even if they get burned sometimes. Don’t bother trying to apply punishment; it is confusing, and often applied incorrectly anyway. Your dog will get the idea when rewards for jumping up go cold, consistently. Take away the motivation, and the behaviour will extinguish.
It will not extinguish overnight, which means you must be consistent. In fact, expect the problem to get worse before it gets better. This is an expected and important phase of learning called the extinction burst. Google it. It helps to know what to expect as you embark on your behaviour modification program. Your dog’s progress will follow a very predictable pattern that is NOT a straight line from here to cured. Your dog won’t give up jumping up that easily, it has worked so well for so long. If jumping up has been rewarding in the past, you’ll need to spend months of rewarding alternate behaviours to compete with that. It will be worth it though. Eventually your dog will choose to sit or lie down, and those behaviours will become the attention seeking behaviours. In the meantime, expect that your dog will keep trying to jump up, because he is a dog. He will try jumping up harder, because he is an animal. Don’t let him learn that all he had to do was try harder.
The solution is so simple on paper. Your dog will choose to sit or lie down to get attention when rewards for those behaviours overshadow the rewards they have received for jumping up in the past. In the meantime, we will use obedience commands to help them choose the correct behaviours. Set your dog up for success. If you are waiting for your dog to jump up on people and wondering what to do to make them stop, you are already a step behind the game. Be proactive, be clear, teach your dog what to do to get attention in the first place so that they don’t resort to jumping up.
Be prepared for regression. Don’t just expect it, welcome it as a necessary part of the process of behaviour modification. Be prepared for your dog to try jumping up, again, and again, and again. Do not sigh, do not give up. Your dog is watching, your dog is listening, and your dog notices that you are confusing and inconsistent, and that you are giving up, and giving in.
Why is it not appropriate to use punishments that cause pain? There are much worse problem behaviours than a dog who is too friendly and jumps up to kiss people. Dogs are association making machines, and while you are hoping the connection between jumping up and your punishment is clear cut, your dog associates punishment with you, and the people they are jumping on. While harsh corrections seem to give instantaneous results, they fail to teach the dog what to do the next time they want attention, and often leave the dog with an anxiety problem, worrying that every person is a bomb ready to go off. At the moment, your dog loves people and wants to jump up to greet them; much preferable to a dog who fears, mistrusts, or even dislikes people.
Does your dog act differently when walking with another dog? This submission to Ask The Trainer addresses an unusual example of a common problem:
Sadie: A four-year old Australian Cattle Dog, adopted as a rescue when she was 1. Very loyal, intelligent, full of energy, and personality.
Claire: 26 year old gal trying her best to use positive reinforcement and tons of exercise to work with Sadie on issues of separation anxiety and reactivity.
Sadie is really good with other dogs, on leash, off leash, she likes to say hi and then walk by! BUT when she is paired up with another dog she knows (our friends’ dogs, other dogs we’ve lived with) she gets very aggressive with other stranger’s dogs, barking at them from across the street, and instigating fights, both on and off leash.
What to do? She is not interested in food in the slightest (even super-high value treats such as sausage or cheese) when she’s in this state. What do I call this behavior? How can I train her out of it when I don’t have access to our friends dogs who are key to the behavior starting up in the first place?
Ah, pack mentality. We often meet dogs who seem fine when walking on their own, but turn into Cujo when their doggy sibling comes along. Sadie doesn’t have a doggy sibling, but it sounds like the same process is at work. Having a “pack” to back you up can make insecure dogs bolder and they go from friendly, submissive dogs to barking bullies.
This phenomenon, by the way, is one of the big reasons why your vet will take a snappy dog out of the room to examine it. Removed from the “back up” of the owner, the dog becomes less sure of itself and doesn’t dare aggress. You will also sometimes see this happen when the owner walks the dog – but a stranger can walk the dog with no problems!
Whatever the situation, the ingredients are usually the same: an ounce of perceived support and a pound of insecurity.
So, what to do?
1. Remember that there is a difference between hidden fears and non-existent fears.
Many people think that their anxious/reactive dog is “fine” if the dog is not manifesting negative behaviours such as barking. But the dog is not necessarily fine. The dog just appears fine because it isn’t pushed far enough or feeling brave enough to show how it really feels. Haven’t you ever hidden your feelings to appear “fine”? Dogs do the same. So whether or not your dog seems okay, work on making strange dog encounters positive, and build appropriate behaviours. You want to teach your dog to look at you when a strange dog approaches in return for treats, so that strange dog = look at owner = treats in your dog’s brain, and so that your dog learns to turn and make eye contact with you when another dog approaches.
2. Work in increments.
If your dog is so worked up that she won’t accept the treats she normally loves, that means that she is too worked up to focus or learn anything. You need to find a distance from the strange dog that you can work with, even if that means the strange dog remains a tiny speck on the horizon. Visit sparsely populated areas, or areas that have views of dogs from a distance – like a field overlooking a dog park – or arrange a set up with a neighbour or coworker’s dog when you have a friend’s dog around as a “back up”.
Work on the same strange dog = look at me for treats behaviour that your dog has already mastered on walks alone. If a strange dog approaches too closely, try to get away – turn and create distance between you and the strange dog until Sadie can focus and enjoy her treats again. If you can’t find ANY distance that works for you, then that means you need to work on the focusing for treats behaviour with no dogs around at all, first! Keep making the situation easier until Sadie begins to have success and then try the next step up.
3. Beware accidental reward for the wrong behaviour.
Situations like this tend to be self-rewarding because, from your dog’s point of view, it seems to work great. Your dog sees a strange dog, barks like crazy, and the strange dog moves on. Barking worked to scare that scary stranger away! And unfortunately, anything else that happens will further convince Sadie that she’s doing the right thing – if the other dog fights back, it will just confirm in her mind that strange dogs are dangerous, especially if you have your friends along with you!
That’s why it’s important to do whatever you need to avoid putting Sadie into a situation that she isn’t ready to handle yet. If she keeps meeting situations that she can manage, and looking at you gets treats and ALSO makes the other dog go away, she’ll start to develop confidence in your strategy and will be willing to try it more and more. But if thrown in too deep, she’ll go back to her tried-and-true plan of bark-bark-grrrrrr.
It’s your dog’s last chance to sign up for Canine Superstars, Wag The Dog’s trick dog training class coming to Agassiz, BC this Thursday the 18th of January!
January 18th to February 22nd, Class will be held in the Agricultural Hall.
Wouldn’t it be cool to watch the Superdogs at the PNE and say, “My dog can do that!”
Certified Trick Dog Instructor Amelia Kellum, CPDT-KA, CTDI will get you and your dog started on the road to stardom, with this Novice Dog Tricks class. The sport of Dog Tricks is a non-competitive, all-breed inclusive sport that combines the skills used in Agility, Flyball, Treiball, Freestyle, and many other competitive dog sports. From jumping through hoops to shooting hoops with a basketball, this sport covers it all!
Your dog will learn:
- How to go through an agility tunnel
- How to jump over hurdles and through hoops
- How to roll a soccer ball
- How to ring a bell
- How to take a bow
- How to play dead and roll over
- How to find things by scent
- And more!
Meanwhile, you and your family will learn:
- How to build your dog’s enthusiasm
- How to communicate clearly with your dog
- How to teach complicated tricks using basic building blocks
- How to have more fun with your dog!
Graduates will receive a Novice Trick Dog Title, complete with certificate and ribbon, through Do More With Your Dog, the official sanctioning body for the sport of Dog Tricks.
Wag The Dog’s Trainer Amelia Kellum, CPDT-KA, CTDI will help you enjoy a better relationship with your dog, build your bond, and have fun!
$180 for 6 sessions.
Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 PM
Jan 18th – Feb 22nd 2017
Book Now: 604-796-8891
Questions? Email the trainer email@example.com
Dogs of all ages are welcome. Dogs must be up to date on the distemper/parvo virus vaccine. Please bring proof of vaccines to your first class.
Want to know how much fun this class really is? Don’t take it from us, read testimonials like these on our site:
“Lots of fun and really felt that the experience strengthened the bond between Kira & myself. Absolutely I would recommend you!” -Louise
“Had lots of fun, improved our skills with the dogs. Learning new tricks was the favourite. Have recommended you to many of our “dog” people.” -John & Sandie Zeiler
“Yes we had fun and was pleasantly surprised at how Molly really enjoyed going to class. She would follow me around all Wed afternoon just in case I was going to duck out without her. She still wants to do tricks for us and we let her.” -Colleen