Steamboat Springs You’ve tried turning away only to have him jump up and scratch your back or pounce on you while biting at your clothes or your hands, but have you been proactive by not giving attention to the jumping? Remember, attention still is attention, even if it’s negative.
Dog's Eye View
This weekly column about dog training publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.
You have yelled, stepped on toes, kneed him in the chest or pinched his paws. If you haven’t heard about these suggestions, good! They don’t work.
Jumping is one of the most annoying doggy behaviors — it ranks right up there with pulling on the leash — so here’s a bit of help:
Step 1: Think about what you’d rather have him do instead of jumping. How about asking him to sit for all interactions?
Step 2: Now for the hard part: be consistent. Consistency is important in changing this behavior. Positively reinforce sitting every time it happens. Positive reinforcement is the use of something the dog likes in order to increase his good behavior. If asking your dog to sit brings out yummy treats and praise, the likelihood of sitting will be increased. Food is a primary reinforcer for all living things, so using food gives us the ability to jump-start a behavior without force or coercion. And by pairing our praise with the delivery of that yummy reinforcer, we increase the power of our praise.
Step 3: Be proactive and ask your dog to sit for all interactions with you, and each member of your family must do the same.
Step 4: Do not make any assumptions that your dog remembers to do this. You’ll need to plan to repeat this training over and over in all possible situations. Think about how long jumping up has served to gain attention. You must be willing to give the right behavior even more attention than you have given to the wrong behavior.
Step 5: Catch your dog being right, and praise and reinforce that correct choice. But don’t assume the problem has been fixed because he did it once. By positively reinforcing the correct behavior quickly and repeatedly, it will begin to take hold.
Step 6: When you have company over, put your dog on leash and make sure you have a pocket full of treats. Keep your dog on leash while your company comes in and gets settled. Keep your dog on leash and repeatedly practice sit as you move about the room. You will be able to tell when the initial excitement of company wears off and your dog’s energy level begins to mellow. At that point, you may allow him off leash.
Step 7: Make sure your company knows that you are working hard to teach this behavior and they are not to undermine your training by allowing your dog to jump. If that happens, put him back on leash and do not allow your company to interact with your dog.
There is no room for part-time expectations. If you want to make this work, then you’ll have to put in consistent effort. Your commitment and time will be positively reinforced by your dog’s good behavior.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training here in Northwest Colorado.