He grabs clothes. Jumps up, tugs, shakes and tears them.

Monty and his shadow

Monty is an absolutely delightful, much-loved Cockerpoo pup, six months old. His coat is unusually soft.

The problem with Monty is he grabs clothes and damages them. After several months, it’s undoubtedly a well-rehearsed, learned behaviour.

They react to the jumping up by telling him Get Down and No, and pushing him. At the same time he may grab the person’s top. The man’s t-shirt had holes in it. (I had been warned and came wearing tough clothes). Continue reading…

Jumps Up and Mouths. ‘No’ and ‘Down’ Fail.

She jumps up and she mouths.

Golden Retriever Tilly, at ten months old, has had a good eight months honing her jumping up skills!

Golden jumps up at peopleShe grabs clothes too when really aroused. She was a challenging puppy from the start and they have come a long way with her.

Stopping her excited jumping up at everyone she meets and gaining some self-control are the two things they still need.

Tilly jumps up at her family, but most of all she jumps up at people she’s not met before or friends.

Her family consists of a couple with their three adult sons.

That’s five humans to confuse her!

She jumps up to say hello in the morning and is fussed. She is given attention when she jumps up at the gate.

When someone comes to the house she will be at the door. She jumps up. Then she is told to get down and may even be shouted at, ‘No!’. They may hang onto her collar.

She likes to jump on sitting people also, so if its visitors her people will be nagging her all the time while at other times letting her have her feet on themselves. I had asked them just to leave her to to do her worst when I came because I can deal with it and they can watch. They found that hard.

Dogs greet face to face.

It’s natural for Tilly to want to get higher, so one way they could reward her for keeping her feet on the floor would be to lower themselves.

They consulted a trainer who said to put an electric collar on her and zap her immediately she jumps up. This is no different to shouting ‘No!’ and with pain added (fortunately they didn’t do this).

As the lady said to me, they want a friendly dog that likes people but they just don’t want her jumping up at them. If Tilly’s efforts to be friendly are associated with pain, it wouldn’t take long for her friendly feelings to turn to fear or even aggression.

Walks with a dog that jumps up at everyone can be difficult. Tilly sees a person approaching and, if on lead, she suddenly jumps up at them as they pass. Off lead she goes deaf to recall if she sees a person. She’s a lot more chilled with dogs than with people.

The people they meet themselves don’t help of course! Most simply can’t resist a beautiful, young Golden Retriever.

I sense that although she is very friendly, this may also mask a bit of anxiety. A stranger approaching can’t surely be solely a matter for joy. Possibly she wants to check them out too.

‘Surely I should expect obedience simply because I’m the boss.’

Having taken old-school advice, this is what the gentleman has believed.

Throughout the time I was there I continually showed Tilly what I did want. I didn’t do it by behaving like a ‘boss’.  I got the people to refrain from any commands and scolding and dealt with the jumping by looking away and waiting, folding my arms because of the mouthing also.

Then I concentrated on reinforcing the behaviour I wanted. Feet on the floor. I gave her the attention she wanted. She chose to sit, I clicked and rewarded her.

They want her to be generally more biddable but are so far missing their trump card – FOOD. What’s wrong with her earning some of her daily food quota?

Not using positive reinforcement is like being expected to work without payment. ‘Will I need to keep feeding her always?’, the man asked. My reply is, yes, most of the time. ‘Because you yourself are good at your job, should your boss now stop paying you?’.

When a dog jumps up, most people do the very opposite of what they should do. They look at her, they tell her to get down and they push her away. Bingo. She gets their full attention. Okay, she may get down, but she for sure will use the same trick for getting attention next time.

NOT jumping up simply needs to be the most rewarding thing.

The dog needs to realise that NOT jumping up is what’s required. I’m sure that few jumpers have been properly shown this.

General excitement is driving the behaviour. There are many ways in which they can reduce her stress levels that will help. One is changing her diet. Another is walking on a loose lead. She would then be a lot calmer when encountering a person when out.

I had her walking around the house beside me with no lead. That’s how it should feel when the lead is loose. It’s not a restraint – it’s merely there for safety. It was easy for me because, unlike them, I used rewards for the behaviour I wanted. I had already built a relationship with her, based on understanding, from the moment I walked in the door.

When Tilly now meets someone on a walk, so long as my strategies are adhered to consistently and by everyone, she will get out of the habit of jumping up at everyone.

Scolding and commands can only add to her frustration and stress. This leads to the mouthing and grabbing clothes. Praise and being shown what to do instead should result in a much better-mannered dog.

With no reinforcement or acknowledgement when she jumps up, she needs the ‘attention vacuum’ filled with more useful activities like brain work, hunting and training games.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Tilly. I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own do.

Jumping Up at People

Six month old white standard poodle

Sunny

I’m sure most of us who, over time, have had several dogs from puppies, forget what monkeys they can be when young. I have just been to see two wonderful friendly, gentle Standard Poodles – Asia is eleven years old and Sunny a large, adolescent six months.

Compared to the majority of dogs I have met of that age, Sunny is an angel! His only two ‘crimes’ are jumping up at everyone and jumping up at the sides to nick things – counter-surfing.

Inadvertently he has been taught to do both through reinforcement.

‘Get Down’ may make Sunny get back down again once up – he’s a very biddable young dog, but ‘Get Down’ doesn’t teach him not to jump up again the next time he feels like it.

Jumping up at people is his most trying habit. The lady herself had begun to ask Sunny to Sit before touching him, but the clever dog has merely learnt that, with her, the sequence is ‘to jump up, be told to sit possibly several times, to then sit down, to get fussed, then possibly to jump up again’!

If sitting is what she wants and sitting is incompatible with jumping up after all, he needs to learn to sit straight away without jumping up first. Having already on several occasions asked him to sit, if she now just waited and ignored the jumping, he would soon work it out for himself that sitting does the trick. Unfortunately there are quite a lot of people in Sunny’s life who all, unwittingly, encourage the jumping up.

Why does he do it? He is a lovely, gentle and friendly dog and it’s probably merely because dogs may greet face to face (if not face to bum!), and he wants to get to face level. He doesn’t jump at children who are already level with the tall dog’s face. Sunny merely needs to learn that to welcome humans there is one rule that may seem weird to him but is necessary if he wants his welcome to be reciprocated.

White standard poodle

Asia

The rule is that his feet must be on the floor.

The attention he expects and gets is by way of being touched, looked at or spoken to. He usually gets all three! Dogs are experts at reading body language. Looking away and waiting usually gets the message across about what he should not be doing, but that’s only half the story. He also needs to know what he should be doing, so feet on floor needs to get him what he wants.

I am a great believer in dogs working things out for themselves rather than being constantly told or ‘commanded’, and Sunny will soon get the hang of what’s expected if everyone is consistent. Currently when he jumps up, one person puts his hand up above him as though to push his head down (ah – a hand to jump up at), and other people give him quite a wild or exciting welcome whilst he is jumping up, even though they may at the same time be saying Get Down!

I predict that if the humans can be trained (always the hardest bit) Sunny will soon politely keep his feet on the floor when people come in.

Jumping up at the sides is the other jumping problem, something all the lady’s Standard Poodles have done. They do it because the can – they are tall – and there is sometimes food up there so it’s reinforced. Sunny will actually nick anything so long as it’s on the side, food or not – stuff like paper that he would not be interested in anywhere else!

The easy solution is to remove all opportunity by shutting him out of the room when unsupervised and keeping the surfaces completely clear. It’s one of the things that becomes a habit and he will have seen Asia doing it too. Stop him doing it for long enough and the habit should become unlearned – along with more reinforcement for keeping his feet on the floor!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Sunny. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog 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).

 

Hates Dogs When On-Lead, Fine Off-Lead

German Shepherd Holly with her large earsHolly is a German Shepherd with an impressive pedigree of champions – and with very big ears! A beautiful girl. She has been well trained by careful and caring owners.

I was called in to see them because of Holly’s reactivity to other dogs when she is on lead – seemingly changing character, snarling, lunging and acting scary and I saw her react in a similar way when the paper boy put the newspaper through the door. She is also very protective of her home territory which is a breed thing anyway but she is a bit extreme. She patrols the boundary of the property which is surrounded by a footpath, barking frantically if the person has a dog.

The lady feels she no longer is strong enough to walk her so the man is the dog walker. He was already making progress before I came, and being more confident than the lady he lets Holly off lead and has discovered that, off lead, Holly is a different dog. She may be a little wary of a dog and drop down, she may run wanting to play, she investigates and she will come away when called.

Like most people who phone me, they start off by listing their dog’s good qualities, feeling disloyal when they start to list problems. It is very common for me to hear ‘she is no trouble at all at home – it’s only out on walks’. As with Holly, I usually discover that there are relevant issues at home. Her good points indeed far outweigh any negatives. However, she persistently jumps at people whether they are sitting or standing, especially visitors, and she gets in quite a panic at people going past with dogs, the postman and even squirrels.

Holly is a good example of where training alone doesn’t provided the answer. For example, she understands No and Off but she will jump up again if she feels like it. Holly’s recall is usually good and she has been trained to ‘come’, but she will ignore it if she is boundary barking. She could possibly be stopped with a training gadget like an air collar – but this wouldn’t get to the root of the problem. It would be a quick fix and probably make things worse – like a plaster keeping a festering wound out of sight. It is the same when they encounter other dogs. No amount of ‘training’ would stop her feeling as she does. This is a psychological behavioural issue requiring calm, patient and consistent leadership – not commands.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.