It’s one of the questions I get asked most frequently by irate owners, pissed off that their Sunday best has yet again been ruined by an over enthusiastic Fido.
I’ve seen dog owners get so cross that they’ve literally screamed at their dog to ‘Get down’ and then turn to me and say ‘I’ve tried everything...he keeps doing it!’
Have you really though ?
Have you tried.... just putting this out there...I know it’s controversial.....wait for it....TRAINING?
‘Yes we did six sessions at PetSmart dog training when he was a puppy’.
Well, while that’s an ‘okay-ish’ start and better than nothing, but you can’t teach your dog everything he’s going to need to know in his life in just six short one hour sessions, he’s going to need ongoing training, either by you, or with the help of a professional.
I’d suggest to you, if you can find the time to do it, which of course you should, because you committed to bringing this poor dog into your family, the least you can do is help him adjust to life in a human home, and, as his parent, no one knows the particular needs of your home and who lives in it better than you.
Jumping up tends to be something that becomes more of a problem to the owner once the tiny puppy stage has long gone and we are left with an adolescent dog eager to make his presence felt.
First of all, let’s unpack the reasons why dogs jump up...and no, it’s not because he’s an asshole intent on ruining your outfit.
It’s because your dog is hardwired to jump and lick the mouth of his provider as he or she comes into through the door.
Pups in the wild will greet mum as she enters the den, licking excitedly at her mouth because they know she will be carrying food for them. She will either have a piece of food in her mouth, or she will regurgitate food for them that she carries on the journey back to the den in her stomach for safety.
As you can see, licking at the mouth is, to the puppy, a means of survival, and they have to jump up to do it.
As they get older, they do it for one of a few reasons.....
One is appeasement.
You will see when one dog pisses another off and knows it’s done wrong, they will go to the lips of the injured party and lick at them, in quite a submissive, groveling fashion. Lip licking can be a sign of respect, of ‘I’m sorry’, and of ‘Hey, got anything in there for me, Dad?’
Your dog doesn’t know this is wrong, it’s in his very nature to do so, and so kind, but firm training is the answer, certainly not screaming.
Some dogs during adolescence can get a bit of a high opinion of themselves. These would normally be the bigger breeds like your big Labrador, Golden or German Shepherd, normally owned by a simpering fool who thinks that training is ‘mean’ and ‘I love him too much to say no’.
That’s all very well and good Karen, until all your friends stop coming around because they’re pissed off with your dog being a dickhead and ruining their clothes.....
Yes, that’s the flip side of this. Some dogs jump up because they want to assert themselves, and gaining height over their owners can be easily achieved by putting paws on shoulders, right?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all dogs are out to achieve absolute dominance over their humans or to rule the world (that would be cats, my friends.....cats are plotting world takeover. You think they’re looking at you with love in their eyes? Bullshit, they’re working out how to sell you into human trafficking...) they are just opportunists.
If they see a donut lying around doing nothing they’re going to take it.
If they see a squirrel with ‘chase me’ written on his back, they’re going to chase him.
If they see an owner who’s a bit of a dill pickle, soft as shit, and shows no leadership skills whatsoever, they’re going to think they need to be taking over.
Sometimes they do this subtly, with little assertions like jumping up and posturing, sometimes they lunge and bite at people who come into THEIR house.
I’d say that when your dog is a serial ‘jumper-upper’ (see? I just made that up, but you’ll totally use that again, won’t you?) it’s a good idea on many fronts to get this taken care of as soon as you can, no matter what the reason is that your dog does it.
Old people with weak joints and thin skin, small children fearful of being knocked over, delivery people who don’t want to get scratched to death by your dogs claws, you in your best outfit, anyone carrying anything delicate or expensive...there’s a million reasons why you need to take charge of this problem.
So the best way to do it?
Well, your average dog trainer is going to tell you to ‘make like a tree’, stand stock still with your arms out while your dog jumps and that way it will be so non-rewarding he will eventually stop.
Another one I’ve been told to do is to fold your arms and turn your back.
Well, that’s a great idea until the dog jumps all over your back and scratches you up like you’ve spent ten minutes with Freddie Krueger.
And anyone who shouts ‘NO’ loudly at their dog for doing this is a bit of an idiot, because they’ll still be doing it ten years from now. It doesn’t work. Dogs are creatures of action.
First they need to be taught, not told. Just like you can’t tell a 7 week old puppy to sit and expect him to know what to do...no one showed him yet.
So, what do we do at the Ranch with serial jumpers?
We grab their paws and gently but firmly walk the dog backwards every time he or she jumps up at us, like pushing a wheelbarrow. We keep going and going and going, until the dog is literally pulling away from our hands.
During the practice we don’t make eye contact or talk to him, this needs to be as non rewarding as possible. Any attention, even negative attention is rewarding, so we don’t do it.
We just keep walking, until the dog is struggling against our hands and is dying to get down.
You do it every time the dog jumps, without fail, and get your visitors to do it. It normally is fixed within about 15 or 20 times.
Consistency is key, but I’ve found it is the absolute quickest and best method for correcting this behavior.
Pretty soon your dog will think ‘this is no fun, can’t see where I’m going, I’m not in control of anything, no one’s even looking at me, I ain’t doing that again.’
Hope this helps. x