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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More Helpful Training Tips!


We all want wonderfully behaved dogs, but it doesn’t happen on its own just because we wish it.  It takes time and effort to create the kind of dog and relationship you want. Here are some basic principles that can help you have a better behaved dog.

  • Have realistic expectations about your dog. No matter how good your dog is, things will get peed on, chewed or scratched/dug up. Barking / meowing, door dashing and/or pulling on the leash can happen with even the best animal.  Accept the fact that dogs are living beings and not china dolls to sit in the corner.  If you have a dog, some time during his/her life, you will loose something of value. 
  • To change behavior you have to be patient and persistent.  Change will not happen over night.  Sometimes it can take weeks or months to change behavior.  The more time you spend and the more often you work with your dog the quicker the change. Despite what some books say, most puppies can’t be housetrained in 7 days.
  • Recognize and meet your dog’s behavioral needs.  Dogs have needs for exercise, social contact with people and other animals and mental stimulation. Problem-solving toys, can provide mental stimulation. Games such as ‘find the hidden object’ and events such as agility can provide all three. 
  • Make it easy for your dog to do the right thing.  Arrange the environment so that the behavior you want is easily produced. The more often desirable behavior happens the stronger it becomes. For example, minimize distractions when you’re trying to teach your dog something new. Put scratching posts where they are easy for your cat to find and use. 
  • Make it difficult for your dog to do the wrong thing.  Arrange the environment so it is hard for your dog to make mistakes.  The more often unwanted behavior happens the harder it is to change.  Close the blinds to keep your dog from barking at those that pass by.  Scoop out your cats’ litter boxes every day.
  • Realize that animals don’t do things out of spite, for revenge or just to make your life miserable. They do what works – that is, what meets their behavioral needs, gets them rewards or allows them to escape or avoid bad things. They sometimes do some things because they are ill.  Dogs counter surf because they occasionally hit the jackpot of a sandwich or chicken leg.  Cats sometimes pee out of the box because they are sick even when they don’t act sick.
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Tips for Barking Dogs

With the quality of lives our dogs are living today as full-fledged members of our families, it’s hard to figure what they have to bark about! But all barks are not equal, and you must diagnose the cause before you can have any hope of eliminating it. Here are some techniques for diagnosing and then modifying this troublesome behavior…

Demand Barking

It is in our nature to respond and comfort the cries of our babies, whether they be of the human or canine persuasion. Of course, cries of true distress should not be ignored, but demand behaviors are a different matter. Yips of protest when your dog is first left alone in the crate, or an attention-seeking pup demanding to be plucked up into your lap, should not get the desired result, or you will be beleaguered by these behaviors for life. Instead, ask your dog for a polite sit (the doggie equivalent of “please”) before petting her. Approach her crate only when she’s calm and quiet. If your puppy barks at you for attention or for food, turn your back to her, or put her food away and leave the kitchen. In so doing, you’re teaching her that these behaviors impede progress rather than hasten it.

Recreational Barking

Recreational barking is often misdiagnosed as separation anxiety because it frequently happens when the family is absent. When barking is the sole symptom, first investigate the possibility that it’s recreational.  The act of barking is self-reinforcing so it is a behavior that is likely to intensify without modification. Increase exercise, particularly before leaving for long periods of time, so that your dog is tired and ready for a rest in your absence. Hire a dog walker to break up the time that he is left alone. Incorporate fun mental challenges like stuffed puzzle toys for your pup to work on in solitude. Leave some classical music playing: It can be relaxing and it can also dampen outside noises that might provoke your dog to bark. As a last resort, the use of a citronella bark collar can inhibit the behavior by establishing an unpleasant consequence.

Barking Due to Separation Distress

Separation distress-related barking (whether it be due to separation anxiety or simply hyper-attachment) usually happens immediately upon being left alone. In the case of separation anxiety, other indicative symptoms are destructive (or self-destructive) behavior, breaking of housetraining in a housetrained dog, or anorexic behavior.

You must treat the underlying cause of your dog’s barking by gradually building his tolerance to periods of separation. Most importantly, never use punishment in an attempt to decrease separation anxiety-related barking, as it will only increase the anxiety in an already anxious dog.

Fear-Driven Barking

Under-socialized dogs may bark when in the presence of certain people, other dogs, or unfamiliar circumstances. My dog Trista barked when she saw horses for the first time on Mackinac Island in Michigan. This was fairly problematic since Mackinac relies on horses and horse-drawn vehicles for the majority of its transport. Within ten minutes of her first contact with horses, Trista was able to sit quietly near horses and even go for a horse-drawn carriage ride with the family. By using desensitization and counter-conditioning the fear was treated and thus her barking was eliminated.

Punishing fear has the same unfortunate result as punishing anxiety – it only escalates the emotional trauma that the dog is experiencing. Treat the fear and the barking will resolve itself.

Communicative Barking

One of my clients has a darling English Bulldog named Bella. Bella is a happy girl and so she should be: She has an affectionate, attentive mom and lives a very good life. There are times, though, when Bella needs to speak up! – when her Tricky Treat Ball rolls out of her reach under the furniture or when she needs a potty break. Bella’s not pushy, though; she lets out a single yap and waits for the attention she requires. This is perfectly appropriate doggie behavior.

Gone are the days when dogs are to be seen and not heard. Communication is a necessary and essential part of our relationships with our canine family members and should not be squelched completely. So, rather than barking back at your dog, identify her grievance – whether it be one of an emotionally stressed dog or of a too-pampered pooch – and treat the cause.

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