Behavior Tip of the Month
My high-spirited Lab jumps on us all the time. It was cute when he was a baby, but now he's 80 pounds! How can we break him of this bad habit?
It is cute when puppies jump. This is how they get their mother's attention. Now they want our attention so we pet them, inadvertently rewarding their jumps.
Many months later we humans realize that 80 pounds of jumping canine isn't so cute any more. Thus we want them to stop jumping. No wonder our poor dogs are confused.
I applaud you for asking for help. Many people punish their pets by kneeing them in the chest, squeezing their paws or stepping on their toes. These punishments usually don't work and can damage your relationship with your canine. Also, don't push them away with your hands. This actually rewards a dog for jumping and will increase that behavior.
The answer is to teach your canine that he will get no attention unless his four feet are on the floor. You can achieve this by teaching him the word "off".
Trish King, Director of the Animal Behavior and Training Department at the Marin Humane Society
, recently spoke at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in Portland Oregon. She calls the following "Off" exercise "Doggie Zen". "In order to GET the treat, the dog has to learn to GIVE UP the treat". Here is how she teaches "Doggie Zen".
Put your dog on leash.
Hold a piece of wonderful food high up in the air. If your pup jumps, say "oops" and raise the food higher up out of his reach.
Continue trying to lower the treat. When your dog is able to keep his "four feet on the floor, give him the treat.
Practice this over and over. When your dog is sitting consistently, add the word "off".
Now have other family members practice the "off" game with your dog.
Continue the game with your friends food treating the dog for keeping his "four feet on the floor".
Once your pet can do the above, reward him with petting, praise and occasional ball throwing or treats. We tend to ignore good behavior. Don't! Reward the good or your pup will revert back to being a canine "pole vaulter".
Next month, we will discuss how to apply "Doggie Zen" when your dog greets guests at the door. This is the Ph.D. level of "off" training. We will also discuss how to prevent your guests from inadvertently undoing all of your anti-jumping progress.
Hopefully, the "off" game will OFFer your pet a better alternative than using you as his personal high jump.
Good luck and Happy Howlidays!
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.