Communicating with your dog to stop jumping up
Communicating with your dog to stop jumping up
By Joanna, Trainer
Having the opportunity of working with animals, specifically in my case, dogs, I realise more and more that unless the basic communication skills that we use with each other are not put into practice with the dogs, it is virtually impossible to achieve any positive success with training them and getting the behaviour we want, to enable us to live happily together.
Many times we humans forget a number of the basic rules when trying to get our dogs to behave or respond to our training methods
It’s almost as if we expect them to be telepathic and know exactly what we want them to do without any instructions or guidance.
For instance one of the most common “problems” 99% of us have with our dogs is “jumping up” when we arrive home or when we at Dogtown are going in and out of their runs, from pure over excitement. The minute our dogs see us coming towards their gates, whether it is with food, or a lead and harness or just coming to visit, they are so happy and run up to greet us jumping up, tails wagging, excitement and enthusiasm that can hardly be contained. They don’t need words to show their pleasure but unfortunately are already in jumping mode waiting to give their best greeting ever and find it strange that you might not want this reaction. Then without thinking our response is often to raise our voice telling them “don’t jump” or waving our hands around hoping this will make them stop immediately and calm down and behave. This can’t happen unless we have communicated to them and taught them an alternative behaviour. We also don’t check our own body language or tone of voice as the more vocal we get the more vocal and jumpy they get. They are just trying to please us. So we have to step back and see what we are doing wrong. If we do not teach our dogs another more acceptable behaviour how can we expect them to behave correctly and do what we want them to do. We forget how quickly we show our irritation with them, but unless we have taught an alternative how can they suddenly, as if by magic; replace the “bad” one.
With our furkids at Dogtown we work daily on their basic manners and skills as part of their life enrichment. Teaching them to keep four paws on the ground and not jump up on us or our volunteers and visitors is part of their daily routine. We know they love having “visitors” and socializing with people but also need to have good greeting manners in the same way you would teach your children.
Firstly we decide on the preferred alternative behaviours suitable for the furkids to learn, for instance do we want a sit, down, hand touch or go to their mat or porch etc. So each caregiver then is equipped and ready with treats and before opening the gate waits outside for the dog to stop jumping up. The minute he/she stops jumping treats are thrown through the gap at the handle, just out of reach of the dog but within his sight so that he will go back and find them. As soon as he has finished finding the treats he will start coming back towards the gate and whilst he is moving forward then more treats are thrown and again he goes off back to find them all. The carer can then enter the run as the dog is busy sniffing for his rewards. This becomes a great “game” of coming up to the caregiver, waiting for the treats to be thrown and off to find them all. The carer will also be giving a cue word as the dog comes back to either sit or touch or go to his mat or porch. The dog is now so focused on his carer and doing the “new” action that he has forgotten about jumping up. This “game” will continue for 5-10 minutes and then the carer will throw a big handful of treats towards the back again as a jackpot and leave the run. This routine will be repeated every time the carer goes to enter the run and very quickly the dog will be ready at the gate waiting either in a sit or whatever behaviour has been trained and the carer then is able to enter without any jumping up.
If you are wanting to try this with your dog/s when you come home from work as you approach your gate have a handful of treats or special nibbles that you have kept in your car and throw just behind your dogs, making sure that they have seen these yummy treats landing and start getting them to go back from the gates. Gradually, as you build up the alternative behaviour, you will be able to walk in normally and have your dogs behaving the way you prefer. You may have decided to get them to sit or go backwards to a specific place in your garden like a porch or special mat. As long as you are consistent with your cue word or action and do the same routine every single time, very quickly you will have your dog doing exactly what you want.
If your dog likes toys or balls again you can have two or three balls in your hand and as your dog comes to you throw the one ball for him to go and find and as he comes back throw another one and so on making this the best game of retrieve ever. Apart from keeping him from jumping up on you it is also giving him great exercise. The more accomplished he gets at the game you can ask him to bring the ball or toy to your hands or drop at your feet whilst he stays in a solid sit. The options are endless. Whatever you want your dog to do and the more enjoyment you both are getting he will want to play for as long as possible. You should pat yourself on your back for training your dog not to jump up and be very proud of your furkid. Correct and straightforward communication from you to your furkid has achieved the best result – a well-mannered dog.