Four Major Puppy Issues; Jumping, Biting, Pulling, and Housetraining
Everyone who gets a new puppy deals with the Big Four; jumping on people, biting, pulling on the leash, and house training. As I recently got my own puppy, I feel your pain, puppy parents!
I can’t cover all four in one blog, so today let’s talk about jumping up. First, why do puppies jump on us? The short answer is, to get our attention. And it works. Even if what they get is a stern, “NO,” or getting pushed down, that is still attention. And just like little kids, our little dog kids are sometimes satisfied with that, so they keep on jumping up.
What we need to do for our leaping puppies is two-fold. First, we need to show them that jumping up gets them absolutely nothing from us; no attention of any kind. That means when your puppy (or someone else’s!) jumps on you, you turn away and fold your arms. You do not make eye contact at all. You become the most boring thing in the world. Once Puppy’s four feet are back on the floor, you count to three. Then you turn back and give some calm positive attention. Why do we need to count to three? Because if you pay attention to Puppy immediately, he will learn that if he does both; jumps on you and then gets down, he will get what he wants! That is just how dog brains work. Those three seconds help Puppy disconnect the jumping from the attention.
The second part of working on jumping up is to teach Puppy an Alternate Behavior. The one I use is ‘Sit’. Teach your puppy to sit on cue, rewarding with a treat for the fastest learning. Train in different parts of the house and then different places outside in short sessions. 10 treats at a time and you’re done.
Once Puppy is sitting four out of five times when you give the cue, wait for the next time she jumps on you. Turn around and be the most boring thing on earth. When she gets down, count to three. Then say, “Sit,” and when she does, reward her with a, “Good dog,” a treat, and some gentle petting. After a while (a looong while), you can slowly phase out the treats.
Remember that jumping up was very effective for your puppy before you started working on becoming boring and teaching the alternate behavior. It will not stop immediately. Just like with a small child, you will have to repeat the process numerous times, but gradually Puppy will jump less and less and start offering a lovely sit in order to get your attention.
Next week I’ll address the second of the Puppy Parent’s Dilemmas: how to stop all those little holes Puppy is making with those sharp little teeth in your arms, legs, and clothing!