Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump

Jumping is a perfectly natural dog behavior. However, it may not be the way you want your guests greeted when they come to your house. You have already worked on sit for petting with a person approaching and here are some ideas for addressing the specific situation of people walking in the door at your home (which is different to your dog)

Prevention-If you know someone is coming to your house, put your dog away while your guests arrive. When their coats are off and your guests are comfortably seated, release your dog. If is best if you initially have a leash on your dog and you ask him to do some sits/downs/tricks. This diffuses the need for a greeting ritual

Alternate behavior– Give your dog something to do that is incompatible with jumping on your guests. Ou can ask your dog to sit or lay down at the door or send your dog to his mat. These will all work, but will require practice. Your guests will be one of the most intense distractions your dog will face. Your work on Leave it, Sit and Down will help

Four on the Floor– Some people prefer to teach their dog an active greeting as long as he keeps all four feet on the floor. You can train your dog to do this by C/T each time his feet hit the floor. Extend the time that his feet remain on the floor by withholding the click (just like you did for increasing the length of sits and downs)

Consistency – It is imperative that you be consistent about the behavior that you expect from your dog when guests arrive. Put a sign on your door to explain what is going on. This will not only give you a few extra seconds to put your training plan in place, but will also educate your guests about what is expected from them. Make sure they understand that they should not reinforce the dog (with pats or smiles) for inappropriate behavior

Leave dog treats outside your door. Show your guests how to lure your dog into a sit. Your guests can then throw the treat down the hall to get the dog out of the vicinity of the door. If your guests are consistent in asking for a sit, your dog will begin to offer a sit when he hears someone at the door.

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Get Good Behavior Spontaneously!

Wouldn’t it be great if your dog naturally offered you good behaviors all the time? Just think about life with a dog that you didn’t have to nag to get them to sit, down or watch you. Is this an elusive dream? NO! It’s all possible and quite easy to achieve. To start this process you can do a couple things. The first way is to capture the behavior when it occurs. This basically means catch your dog in the act of doing something good, mark it with a word like “YES” or clicking so he knows he did the right thing and reinforce him with a treat. I prefer to use this technique whenever possible. For example, wait for your dog to sit on his own, yes/click and treat.

The second way is to lure the behavior. With this technique, one would use a food lure to get the dog to do the behavior, yes/click and reinforce him. Once the dog understands how to do the behavior, you can begin to teach him to offer the behavior on his own.

For sits begin by asking for or luring a couple sits to “prime the pup” and then reinforce. Now move so the dog will get up and you just stand there and smile at your dog. You can talk to him, but don’t cue the sit in any way. The second he sits, YES/CLICK and treat. Repeat every time he offers the sit. The more you reinforce it the more ingrained it will become, until your dog begins to offer it as a default behavior any time he wants something or doesn’t know what else to do. For eye contact carry some non-perishable treats around with you or stash them around your house. If your dog spontaneously gives you eye contact, YES/CLICK and treat. Repeat this often.

For downs repeat the same process you used for the sit. Lure a couple downs and then just wait for your dog to offer it on his own. Be sure to reinforce him when he does. If he doesn’t offer the down on his own, help him out by using the down hand signal only and reinforce when he does. Now gradually fade out your hand signal. For example, if you currently have to move your hand all the way to the floor to get your dog to down, the next time stop your hand 2 inches from the floor, etc.until you don’t have to indicate the down with your hand at all. This is a good spontaneous behavior to teach dogs who jump on people.

Reinforcement doesn’t always have to come in the form of treats, although using treats at first will speed things up. If can be a toy, a kind word, a smile, petting, a walk, chasing a squirrel, etc. Be sure to always reinforce good behavior in some way every time.

Most dogs do not like to be pet on top of their heads initially. They usually don’t mind if you come back to their heads, but most do not like the sight of your hand coming down towards their heads. It can be intimidating to them. When you reach your hand towards your dog’s head how does he react? Does he look away, back up, lick his lips, yawn, duck his head or run away? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dog does not want to be pet on the top of his head.
Keep in mind that in the winter when it’s dry and there is a lot of static electricity if you pet the top of his head and shock him, you’ve not only NOT reinforced him, but you’ve punished him too. Remember, reinforcement must be reinforcing to your dog not you! If your dog does not like it, it’s not reinforcing.

Get in the habit of observing your dog and then reinforce them for good behaviors. He won’t feel compelled to do bad things to get your attention because doing good things will always pay off for him. Train yourself to be more in tune with your dog and you will be on your way to a loving, well-mannered and respectful relationship.

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Waiting at Doors

This is an important thing to teach your dog mainly for safety reasons.  Just because a door is open, doesn’t mean your dog goes out.  It also teaches patience.

Definition: The dog should wait in an area of your choice, but does not have to freeze in that position (as in the Stay). For example, if you tell your dog to wait at the front door while you exit, the dog can move about in the room, but cannot go through the door.

Phase One:

  • Begin with the dog sitting or standing in front of a closed door. Stand between the door and the dog, holding onto the leash and the door handle. Before the door is opened, give the cue “Wait” and the hand signal for “Stay” (fingers pointed down, palm toward the dog’s face).
  • Now open the door a crack. The dog will probably begin charge through the door in delight! As he does, bar the door with your body and/or GENTLY close the door in the dog’s face. Repeat the sequence until the dog does not try to barge through the door. You don’t have to say anything negative; your presence in his way is saying all that is necessary. No treat is required in this exercise — just going through the door is enough for most dogs!
  • Once your dog is waiting at the door, you step through. If he tries to follow, your body is back blocking the entrance, or the door again closes (gently) in his face. Put him back, and tell him “Wait” again. There is no need to put him back in the exact spot.
  • Go through the door. When the dog is on one side and you are on the other, count to five slowly to yourself. Then release the dog – he can go through the door!Phase Two:

    Some doors, such as car doors, front doors, and perhaps the back door, should be designated “permanent” wait doors. This means that the dog is taught not to go through them at any time unless someone is there to give him permission. To teach, make sure the dog understands Wait. Then, without giving the command, open the door and start to step through. When the dog goes with you, tell him “uh-uh,” and block the door. Repeat until the dog understands he has to wait to go through this particular door even though no command has been given. When it’s obvious he understands the concept, step through the door, wait a few seconds, then release him.

    Note: This exercise uses something called “natural consequences,” a wonderful tool for some behaviors. When the door closes in his face, the dog learns that if he does something you tell him not to, the consequences can be memorable.

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