How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping On People, Revisited
All dogs, no matter their age, are awesome. And just like us, they are not perfect. I hear this basic sentence many times in my dog training practice: “Fido is a wonderful dog/puppy, but I can’t get him to stop __________.” Insert your own dog’s annoying behavior to fill in the blank and take a deep cleansing breath. There are solutions!
A while back, I wrote about one of the Big Four Puppy Issues; Jumping Up. I said that you need to become boring when your dog jumps and also teach an alternate behavior for them to do, like ‘sit’. I want to add another dimension to the solution, if needed. And believe me, I need it with my six month old Old Time Scotch Collie, Maizie!
Just like that statement I hear so often from my clients, Maizie is an amazing young dog EXCEPT. She jumps on people. She rarely jumps on me anymore but heaven help anyone else. It just seems to be wired in to her brain that when she is excited or meets a new person, she must jump. She will be 50-60lbs when full grown so I want to solve this problem now. She knows ‘sit’ as an alternate behavior but gets too aroused to sustain it. So I am working on impulse control/attention games to help her channel that energy in a more acceptable way. And for now, sadly for everyone involved, although she is around other people as much as I can arrange, she is not getting much chance to get up close and personal with them. For now.
One attention game I work on with her is to go to a public place, not too crowded but with a steady flow of people. I stand with her in a location where she cannot reach them and they are less likely to run up to her, and then I wait. When she finally notices I still exist, we are connected by the leash, and she looks my way, I throw a treat party. One after the other, 5-10 treats are place on the floor right in front of me, while I continuously tell her how wonderful and smart and awesome she is and how proud I am of her. Then I look away, watch out of the corner of my eye, and wait until she does it again. Another treat party!
When Maizie is doing well with being calm, looking at the people and then back to me, we move a bit closer. That is as far as we have gotten in the process, and now that Maizie is in early adolescence, I know it will take a while. But this too shall pass. In the meantime, I have friends come over and use other attention and impulse control games until Maizie is able to be next to my friend and keep it together. More about other games on another day.
I have a six month old puppy, about the same as a pre-teen human, with the same growing awareness of who she is, the same desire to explore the world and test the limits, to see what works and what does not. It is my responsibility to channel that exploration in productive ways that help her grow to be the best dog she can be. This too shall pass.
Note: The technique described was developed by Suzanne Clothier and is called the Auto Check-in.