The decision was that Billie shouldn’t jump up at people anymore.
Up until now jumping up has been very rewarding in terms of attention. The 6-month-old terrier cross (right) is looked at, spoken to in terms of reprimands and also touched – pushed off.
She may get down but it doesn’t teach her to stay down or not to jump up another time.
The lady even, without thinking, caught herself automatically fussing Billie as she jumped up. Modifying behaviours like this need consistency and patience. That’s it.
The dog should get absolutely no reinforcement for jumping up from anyone – no family members and no guests.
But, most importantly, what about letting the dog know what it is we DO want?
Jumping up is natural behaviour to dogs. Puppies in particular want to get level with our faces where so much communication takes place – just as they do with other dogs.
The most powerfully effective way to teach Billie not to jump up is to reward and reinforce her for feet on the floor. We worked on this continually all evening while Billie, unused to the jumping getting no results, tried harder and harder – in effect becoming more and more frustrated as is to be expected.
She was waiting for the usual instructions or reprimand, but nothing was happening!
We simply outlasted her. Every time her feet were on the floor we rewarded her immediately. We turned, looked away or tipped her off each time her feet were on us.
She was learning to work things out for herself.
A dog that has been ‘trained’ using commands can often find it bewildering when left to think for herself. She is used to being ‘directed’ and it can take a while for the penny to drop.
Eventually Billie was sitting on her bed nearby and even lying down. All the time she was earning her food. She had the self-control to sit still while I took the photo.
Billie lives with Beagle Sadie and Beagle cross Harvey. I arrived to find poor Harvey on crate rest due to a neck injury. Harvey and Billie are a ‘terrible twosome’ when Harvey is fit, so I will need to go back when he is mobile again. Meanwhile, this very active dog has nothing to do, so he will need mental stimulation.
All are rescues with pre-existing baggage. Work needs to be done in other areas, particularly with walking nicely and reactivity to other dogs.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Billie, Harvey and Sadie, which is why I don’t go into the exact details of your plan here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).