Sunday, February 08, 2009

How can I prevent my dog from jumping on people

Not such a annoying thing when that pet is a puppy! However as your puppy grows in to a adult dog this will become a problem. While in the puppy stage they are cute and adorable and don't harm us when jumping. However, these adorable puppies grow and if the breed is a large one this jumping becomes a problem.

For many dogs, jumping up on people is part of their greeting routine. Often, guardians have tried to discourage this behavior using methods such as squeezing the front feet, stepping on the dog’s toes, or kneeing the dog in the chest. Yet the behavior continues. If that is the case with your dog, then it is important to think about what might be motivating the dog to jump up and what is the reinforcement for the behavior continuing.

Usually the motivation for the jumping up behavior is to greet people. Many dogs like to greet face to face, like they do with their canine counterparts. People, however, find this objectionable. Correction must not be directed at punishing the problem, but rather finding a means of teaching the dog an appropriate greeting posture. This usually is a sit/stay, which can then be rewarded with food and attention. Once the dog has perfected this without people there and practiced it with family members, the dog is ready to try with visitors. Make the dog sit and stay while people come and hand the dog a treat. If the dog gets up, then put him back in the sit and try again. Often placing a treat jar by the front door with a bell on it will help. Once the dog associates the bell on the jar with a treat, and a treat with a sit/stay, the dog will be more likely to perform the task.

Another way to train this behavior is to set up visitors to come to your home. Have the first person come to the door and instruct your dog to sit and stay. Then, let them in. Hopefully with some effort you will get your dog to continue to sit. Have the person enter, give a treat and sit down. After 5 minutes, have them leave out the back door, come to the front and enter again. This second entry should go easier as your dog will have just seen the person. If you can repeat this 4-6 times for each visitor, the dog will have plenty of opportunity to learn the new task.

Once you understand the motivation, and have trained a new task, you need to be sure you have identified all the reinforcement for the behavior. If the dog succeeds in getting any attention for the jumping behavior, then the dog will continue to jump. Attention may be petting, pushing away (which resembles play behavior), and even mild reprimands can be reinforcing for a dog who really wants attention. To change this behavior you need to remove ALL reinforcement. This may mean that you do not look, speak, touch or interact with the dog IN ANY WAY when he jumps on you. Walk by the dog, give a command such as sit, but do not interact with the dog. Alternately, you could try punishment to see if you can disrupt the behavior just as it begins.

To use punishment for jumping up, you need to be able to QUICKLY AND HUMANELY interrupt the behavior. This is often best done with some type of device that makes a loud noise. Shake cans, rape alarms, and air horns, all make loud noises that will often startle the dog. As soon as the dog hesitates, you need to give the dog an alternative command so that the dog can do the proper thing and then reward the dog with praise. So, as you administer the noise, you say SIT and when the dog sits you reward him with praise and food treats if available. Many dogs soon learn that to avoid the noise, they need to sit and will do so to greet you. Then have the person leave, and reenter the home, using the device and command if the dog does not immediately sit, and a good sit and reward as soon as the dog does sit. Continue to have the person leave and reenter until the dog sits for him reward without hesitating.

Another method that is consistently successful at deterring and preventing the jumping up, is to leave a leash and head halter on the dog during greeting. All it takes is stepping on the leash or a quick sharp pull to prevent or disrupt the jumping up. Again, be certain to reward non-jumping behavior.

Some people like to allow the dog to jump up on them at certain times. You must never allow the dog to choose the time. Ideally you should teach your dog to jump up on command such as "Give me a hug" or "Come up here." This way, you have the behavior under verbal control and you decide when the dog will be allowed to jump up.

Information for this post was found from Pawprints and Purrs

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