Correcting inappropriate jumping

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jumping is a problem that many dog owners face.

To correct your dog’s jumping; it must first be determined whether your dog is engaging in friendly or serious jumping. Most dogs engage in friendly jumping as a way to greet people or play with them.

However, a small percentage of dogs use jumping as a way to make a dominant statement to people entering their home or territory. These dogs are not just jumping to say, hi.”

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They jump up and keep their paws on the person. If they are a large dog they might put their paws on the person’s shoulders and just stare. They may also growl during the jumping. A dog who engages in this type of jumping is usually an adult dog of a protective guarding breed.

Typically, this dog is living in an environment that promotes his dominance. Because of this he perceives himself as the pack leader, not his owner, and feels that it is his job to protect his territory and rights. Before correcting this dog, leadership first must be established and maintained.

If your dog is determined to be a friendly jumper, treatment of the problem will be much simpler.

There are four main components that need to be addressed when treating inappropriate jumping. There must be positive reinforcement of alternate behaviors, management of the problem and setting the dog up to succeed, consequences for inappropriate jumping, and consistency in dealing with jumping. All four parts are essential in effectively treating a jumping problem.

One of the most common jumping problems is a dog jumping on guests. First, a dog must have a clear understanding of the alternate behavior that you are looking for.

In this case, a sit-stay would be an acceptable alternate behavior. Of course, the sit-stay command must first be mastered. These alternate behaviors must be rewarded at times other than when guest arrive and get the dog too excited to sit.

For example, if you are sitting in a chair and your dog comes up to you and sits calmly next to you, reward that behavior.

Next, you will want to begin desensitization exercises. Begin to practice the sit-stay cue with your dog near the front door when no guest is present. Once your pooch has that mastered, begin adding distractions, like opening and shutting the door.

Without guest present, take time throughout the day to nonchalantly open and close the door, knock on the door, and ring the doorbell. This exercise will help desensitize your dog to normally stimulating sounds.

This should be repeated at least 20 times per day. After your dog’s level of excitement starts to decrease at the sound of knocks or doorbells, you can start adding the sit cue during these exercises.

These noises should become no more relevant to the dog than the chiming of a clock.

Your dog will now be ready to start accepting guest in a sit position. To help set your dog up for success, instruct all new people to greet your dog calmly so they do not encourage the jumping behavior.

By following these simple steps, you will be on your way to curb a jumping problem. Obliviously, this is only a general overview of problem jumping. As with any behavior problem, for more assistance contact a professional dog trainer.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony and Kate Barker are certified pet groomers who own and operate The BARKer Shop in Ironton. For questions, call 740-534-0088.