Monday, September 26, 2011

The Jumping Dog or How to Lose Friends

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University’s DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

The Jumping Dog or How to Lose Friends

One of the cutest things is when a small puppy reaches up by jumping towards us. Friends almost always say in a baby like high pitched voice “Oh isn’t he cute” and “Oh it’s OK, I don’t mind”.

Fast forward five months or more. The same friends who once thought your canine cute now has a look of terror or disgust upon seeing him bound towards them! The dog is excited to see people who once welcomed him and equally excited to meet new friends, before you know it his front paws are all over them. Where did the cuteness go? When your friends eye glasses are bent and hanging half off their heads, their clothes now sport muddy paw prints and worse, a big snag has been added to their outfit the cuteness is no more! Still worse is the five-year-old who ends up being knocked down and bumps his head. Gone are the days of the cute puppy who jumped to meet and greet everyone.

It could have all been avoided by asking family, friends and all who stopped by to simply not interact with the puppy until he was calm and keeping all four feet on the floor. The good news is, even the old dog who has been jumping since puppyhood can be shown a better way of greeting people. Thank goodness it can be reversed!

First we need to understand jumping from a dog’s point of view. Puppies while with their pack, jump into their mother’s face for many canine acceptable reasons, from food to submission it’s part of canine culture. We remove puppies from this canine culture placing them into our human culture. We talk to our puppy using baby like high pitched voices when we want to interact. This, in the canine world, tells the puppy you’re excited and want to play. The only reasonable action for the puppy is to become excited and jump into your face, just like he would have done to his canine mother. The puppy is only trying to let you know he too, is excited to be with you. Any behavior we encourage or reinforce will become stronger, from puppy jumping to barking and more. We unintentionally reinforce our puppies to perform unwanted behaviors as adult dogs and then wonder what went wrong.

So how do you stop unwanted jumping? The first thing to do is stop encouraging the puppy or dog to jump by getting him excited. Upon coming home walk in the house without saying a word to the puppy or dog. Doing this communicates your coming home is no big deal and therefore he has no reason to get excited and start jumping. Go about your routine for 10 to 20-minutes and when your dog no longer seeks your attention, you may initiate interaction. Interact with your dog using a low pitched voice and calm words, which will keep the dog calm.

The longer your dog has jumped the longer it will, most cases, take him to stop jumping. It’s no different than you trying to stop a bad habit. The longer you practiced the bad habit the longer it will take you to stop thinking about doing it again.  The second step is to cross your arms and turn your shoulder towards the dog whenever he jumps followed by once again facing the dog as soon as he puts four feet on the floor. Doing this tells the dog you will ignore him unless he has four feet on the floor. It will take time for him to problem solve what you want from him, so be quiet, patient and consistent. You must also be your dog’s advocate by insisting your family, friends and visitors do the same.

Enlist the help of family and neighbors to speed up the training. Ask them to stop by with the purpose of ignoring your dog until he’s got four on the floor. All will be thankful as well as learning how to work with their own jumping dog.

Tip of the week: When ending unwanted behaviors, increase exercise, which not only lessens his energy level, but also expands your dog’s world. The more he gets out, meeting people, places and things, the less excited he will be when the world enters his home. Also use food stuffed toys to redirect your dog’s attention when visitors stop by. 

Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Copyright 2010 by Susan Sharpe

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