Four strategies to cure jumping

  1. Teach an “off” command. First, get those paws up on you or some other elevated surface by luring your dog up. Maybe teach this as an “up” or “hug” command. Then, using a nudge or by simply lowering the dog’s front paws, get him back to the ground. As the paws touch the ground, say “off.” It is very common to accidentally say the word “off” too soon, thus rewarding paws in the air instead of paws on the ground. Timing is critical here! Reward with a treat or toy and do it again. Repeat often in many places, and under many distracting and exciting situations. When you see your dog start to respond by lowering himself, or choosing to stick to the ground, you can start to use “off” as a command, rather than simply labeling the action of paws hitting the ground. Lots of reward for paws on the ground!
  2. Anticipate your dog’s jumps. You probably already know what your dog looks like just before he launches. As he approaches with the intent to jump, step assertively and squarely toward your dog and say “off!” (again, you are labelling feet-on-the-ground behavior, and also here, you are using the gruff word as a surprise reminder/warning.)
  3. Keep a leash attached to your dog when you know he is in a situation likely to trigger jumping. Use a sharp sideways snap on his leash if he jumps, both to correct him and also to pull him off balance, thus planting those feet back on the ground.  Say “off!” as soon as the feet hit the ground and praise/treat him. Remember to always keep that leash loose, so you can perform a sharp snap. Of course, even if the leash did get tight accidentally, you still can simply pull the dog sideways and get those paws on the ground. Pulling straight back gives you no leverage, even on a small dog, and often will intensify a dog’s desire to jump.
  4. Use a sharp four-stiff-fingers tap on the rib area right behind the shoulder blade, as he jumps. This both surprises the dog, and uses instinctive canine communication to let the dog it has made a very rude social error. The tap, like any correction, needs to be forceful enough to cause a visible change in the dog’s energy. (i.e. it should back off and not try again right away.)

Have fun practicing, and enjoy the rewards of a polite dog and clothing free of muddy paw prints!


Door Drama

You hear a knock at the door….what’s your reaction? Panic? Are you immediately breaking into a sweat, knowing the dogs are going to bark nonstop, charge visitors with either kisses and wild jumping, or with snarling and teeth? Are you tripping, lurching, sweating, by the time you open the door, as the dogs swarm under your feet, knocking you against the walls?

We’ve all been there! It can be solved though, and more quickly and easily than you’d imagine.

Like all other dog behavior modification plans, you must have a clear picture in your mind before you start: What is the perfect scene, to you, of how your dogs would react to visitors? Where would your dogs go, to stay out of the way?

First, practice with a family member or friend. When the knock comes:

1. Calm yourself. Frantic, nervous energy cannot control a dog. It is weak energy!

2. Move ahead of the dogs, near the door. Do not try to call them away from the door from behind. You are going to “Claim” the door and your visitors as *yours* – off limits to the dogs. You are expecting them to give the door and the visitors respectful distance.

3. Stand up tall and lean into your dogs, pushing your strong, stern energy into them. Do not yell, talk or nag to them. Simply tell them “Go” if you feel you need to, as you point away from the door.

4. The first time, they’ll likely ignore you, act confused, and try to get around you. Block with your body, with your determined, hard gaze, and insist that they go. If they do not, give them a sharp tap or jab in the ribs behind right above the elbow. Use whatever intensity you need to get the dog to back off. If you have multiple dogs, target the strongest/most dominant one. Don’t push them or restrain them. You only will strengthen their desire to surge ahead.

5. Keep on them until they attain that “perfect scene” you imagined earlier? Were they lying politely in the kitchen? On their doggy beds? In the corner by the desk? Go ahead and keep on them until they are there. Once they are in the place you’d like them, Use a firm touch with extended fingers on the sides of their ribs to tap/nudge/coerce (you’re imitating a dominant dog now, pushing with their muzzle to lay a puppy down on the ground) your dog into the sitting or lying position.

6. It’s okay if you only get partway to your “perfect scene” at first try. What’s more important than a perfect “sit” or “down”, is that the dog become calm and in a listening, follower state of mind. You’ll see him look less frenetic, his head relax and lower. You want that space, and you want them standing away, obediently, if not in a perfect “sit” or “down”.

7. Try it again several times and notice how each time you’ll feel more confident, which the dog picks up on, and you’ll get closer to your perfect picture each time.

8. You OWN the door and a “bubble” of space several feet around it. Respectful dogs do not crowd, or even step foot into that bubble. Insist on it! Get it!

9. This practice will go much smoother if your practice visitors, and also your real visitors practice “No touch, No talk, No eye contact” when they enter.

10. When you enter and leave the house, you need to also practice “No touch, No talk, No eye contact”. This emphasises your leader role to your dogs, and helps them to have less emotional door interactions. This rule will also help with separation anxiety that some dogs experience.

Remember that a pack leader moves *toward*, moves calmly and deliberately, and always gets what she wants!!!