The Jumping Dog and the Usual Ways We Handle It – Reinforcing the Problem Behavior!
Let me paint you a picture! You walk through your door at the same time every day and WHAM! Fido puts both paws right in the middle of your chest and you end up on your butt on the floor! Before you know it, you have been given a bath in doggie kisses!! Now imagine this scenario playing itself out every day, not only to you, but to every person that walks through your door. Whether the dog is big or small, this reunion/welcome that plays itself out daily is both embarrassing and dangerous. Does this situation ring true in your house? How does it make you feel? Well, what I am about to tell you is not going to make you feel any better. You are getting the exact behavior from your dog that you have been asking for! Yes… you are the reason your dog acts this way every day. Now don’t shoot the messenger, just read on and let me explain.
There are four ways I have seen people deal with a jumping dog, and three of them positively reinforce the bad behavior of jumping. The fourth, unfortunately, is the one people don’t think of, and is the only way to eliminate this common problem behavior. Let’s look at the wrong answers first.
1. The pogo stick: This one seems to be very popular with the big dogs where they either look like a bucking bronco or jump up and put their front paws square in the middle of your chest. This behavior in big dogs is especially scary for visitors that are small, frail or already scared of dogs. Little dogs are notorious for the simultaneous bark (that sounds like they are going to eat you) and the jump up on the legs, scratching bare legs, ruining pantyhose in the process, which many times triggers a push or swat. So, small Fido comes running up and jumps up on us and we immediately push or swat the dog away, or large Fido plants his paws on our chest and we push or knee them away (the pogo stick.) Now let the games begin! Fido is thinking “awesome, man do I have my human trained well, see how fast I can get them to play this cool game!” They jump… you swat or push; they jump…you swat or knee…over and over and where it stops…Sorry, but I still get a kick out of watching the owners get madder and madder at the behavior while the dog is going “do it again, do it again!” Remember, I am laughing with you, not at you
2. GET DOWN…STOP…OFF (translation to dog BARK, BARK, BARK): So, you’ve walked in the house and the dog jumps up on you and you start by saying “Get Down”, “Off” or “No”! The more Fido ignores these commands, the louder you say them! No offense folks, but this one fits all of us at some point or another…well mostly! Guys seem to be more programmed to yell and scream. I rarely see this one with the girls, but sometimes they lose it too. Please try to remember, DOGS DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH! So no matter how much you yell, scream or plead, all your dog hears is BARK, BARK, BARK. Fido is more that willing to join in, barking in excitement at the game, and before you know it, you the human, are having a wonderful conversation in dog! Once again, Fido is so proud of how quickly he has been able to train his human into this wonderful conversational game! Additionally, if the commands aren’t working, you might start to swat or push (pogo stick) and you are now encouraging two bad behaviors (jumping and barking!)
3. OH honey I missed you come give mommy some love: Okay girls, now it’s your turn. This one is usually all yours. It’s been a long day at work, the boss has been a jerk and there is Fido waiting at the door just for you. When you walk in, FIDO jumps up on you, and before you know it, you are on your knees giving your best friend a great big hug with kisses and all. Guys, don’t laugh, I have seen you do it too! You just wait until you think no one is looking. And with the little dogs, you are way more apt to pick FIDO up when he jumps up on you and also encourage visitors to pick him up when he is jumping up on them since “he just wants to love on you!” (Bentley… inside joke!) or at least that is what you think!!! Same as the other two though above, Fido can’t wait to tell his friends how quickly he figured out what buttons to push to get just the right behavior out of his human.
If you are thinking “oh crap” at this point, that’s good. The first step in fixing the issue is knowing what the problem is, so you are on track. You recognize the bad behavior. Now, what behavior are you looking for? You have to make a conscious decision on what you want your dog to do instead of jump on you – right? So, now it’s time to figure out how to address Fido’s behavior so that you are responding appropriately when he jumps up on you or your visitor!
Check out the next post… Ignore the Bad, Reward the Good – 15 Minute Ignore!
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