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.

 

Enjoyable Walks Begin at Home

Enjoyable walks with Izzy can be better if she’s calmer before leaving

Enjoyable walks with Old English Izzy Izzy, a stunning 14-month Old English Sheepdog, is extremely friendly, very bouncy and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the all the attention she gets.

When I arrived she came to the door and gave one Woof. Thinking she may have been uneasy because I was taking no notice of her (something she wasn’t used to) I said hello. This stressed her sufficiently to make her do a small tiddle on the floor.

She very quickly relaxed however. There was a bit of jumping up but she was so friendly and biddable. A delight.

 

Izzy is treated like she’s the centre of their world (which she probably is!)

Izzy is adored by four ladies and other family members including young children. Whenever she wants attention she gets loads of it. To look at her you can see how hard she must be to resist. However, it does leave her with little incentive to give them her attention when they want it.

She has constant access to food, so food isn’t a sufficiently valuable currency for rewarding and paying her for doing as asked. She could instead be working for some of her food.

What prevents enjoyable walks is Izzy’s pulling like a train on lead and going ‘deaf’ when called if she’s engaged in something she would prefer to be doing, like running off to play with another dog.

She is wild with excitement before the walk even starts.

The lady, having been pulled over by her, will no longer walk her alone, so one of her three adult daughters will come after work and accompany her.

There is a massively exciting greeting at the door when the daughters arrive, possibly with grandchildren too, to the extent that Izzy will pee on the floor. In the normal way of things it would take quite a while for the effects of this degree of excitement to subside and they immediately go out for the walk.

Soon Izzy will learn that ‘good things come to a calm dog’ while they give her time before leaving, doing their best not to wind her up in the first place. Enjoyable walks should then be a lot easier.

Walking equipment needs to be changed away from that which depends upon physically restraining the dog to equipment that encourages her to walk comfortably and willingly beside them. I use a good harness with D-ring at the chest (Perfect Fit) and a loose training lead. Equally important is that they all practise the correct walking technique.

I demonstrated with the lead on Izzy’s collar. She was excited when I picked up my lead so I sat down and waited. Then I called her to me (reward) and asked her to sit quietly – once. After a moment she did so and I attached the lead to the collar so that it hung from the front under her chin. I then walked around the house with her following me on a loose lead.

To make my point I now turned the collar so the lead attachment on top of her neck. Izzy immediately pulled due to the ‘opposition reflex‘.

I rested my case.

‘Coming back when called’ also begins at home. If she won’t come in from the garden until she is ready she certainly won’t when there is something exciting to run off after on a walk.

So, with a mix of a calm start, better equipment, a technique where she walks nicely because she wants to, being conditioned until coming when called is a habit along with a slightly different overall relationship with her humans at home, enjoyable walks should be achieved before too long.

 

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 Izzy. 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 dog (see my Get Help page)

Perfect Home, Walks are the Problem

border terrier spent most of the time asleep in his bedJack is a delightful Border Terrier. Having checked me out and sniffed me thoroughly he brought me a toy, and then was so chilled that he spent much of the time I was there asleep!

The couple have had Jack for about three months now – he used to belong to a friend. Previous to that they used to look after him regularly, and cried when they had to give him back, so they were thrilled when the friends said they could have him.

Jack’s life has changed greatly from being part of a busy family without too much attention, to living with a couple and being the centre of their lives. It’s possible this is backfiring a little as the humans are now perhaps dancing a little too much to his tune! A dog, however well behaved he is at home, who has his owners doing his bidding, will be assuming some of the leader’s duties of decision-making and protection. This becomes a problem when leadership is most needed – away from home, out in the big dangerous exciting wide world. I have seen well-behaved calm house dogs changing when out on walks into dog-reactive pullers on lead countless times.

So, in order for walks to be enjoyable, leadership has to be in place at home. By leadership I don’t mean harsh commands and a rigid disciplinary routine but something a lot more gentle. A subtle shift in who obeys whom, who makes the decisions, who is responsible for safety, who is in charge of the food and who initiates most of the play.

A dog that is very excited before leaving the house, that charges ahead through the door and who pulls down the road to the extent that his tight collar is making him gag, is not a dog confidently walking with a leader. He is tense. His neck must be uncomfortable. When they see another dog the discomfort and tension increase as the owner thinks ‘heck- a dog!’ and passes the message down a tightened lead.

In Jack’s case his recall is excellent, and he is only reactive or aggressive to certain dogs on certain occasions. His ‘unpredictabilty’ will be to do with stress build-up. He is very obsessed with a particular ball that they take and which they use to ‘tire him out’. Like with a key on clockwork, overdoing the chasing games stimulates his prey-drive and can wind up a dog until he is so highly sprung he’s ready to go for almost anything.

I know from extensive experience that dogs who are not over-stimulated, who do natural doggy things like sniffing, marking, short bursts of hunting and running at their own pace exactly as they would if left to their own devices, are in a far better state of mind when it comes to encountering other dogs.

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

Two Little Jack Russell/Parson Terriers

Lugh and Idris are gorgeous very well-loved 14-month-old Jack Russel/Parson mix Terriers with a few unwanted behaviours creeping in.

The owners are ‘bringing them up’ in a fair and caring way and th dogs are mostly well-behaved, although they may be doted on a little too much by the lady in particular. She gets very worried, especially out on walks, because both have slipped their harnesses on occasion.

It is always strange to see two siblings living identical lives with such different personalities. However, different personalities cope with being ‘worshipped’ in different ways. Lugh is more confident and calmer. Idris is more highly strung.

I took no notice of the dogs when I arrived and this spooked Idris – used as he is to everyone paying homage.  He barked at me. Lugh was much more chilled. Idris has started to play ‘owenership’  games over food resulting in a couple of fights between the two dogs. On walks Idris pulls and pulls though not Lugh. He is very hyped up when he sees other dogs, hackles up and barking.  The dogs are never off lead and seldom go anywhere open because it requires a car journey – and neither dog travels well. Lugh is sick almost immediately and Idris panics. Both have slipped their harnesses in the street and the lady who is the main dog walker now feels so worried about this that along with the pulling walks are not enjoyable at all.

They will go back to the beginning with the walking so that Idris no longer pulls, with a strategy for when they encounter other dogs, along with equipment which gives the lady confidence that the dogs can’t possibly be Houdinis. They also have a plan to gradually work on the dogs’ anxiety in the car. Backing all this up, leadership skills at home need working on, especially around food.

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

Two Sides to Doberman Ruby

Ruby is the model dog indoorsRuby’s owners have been living the sort of nightmare that would be a dog owners’ worst dream. She has never been good with other dogs, but one day a couple of months ago she killed an elderly Sheltie. One can only imagine what this must have been like for his owner. The repercussions have been huge, involving the police, the council and a local petition to have Ruby put down. The owners are conscientious dog owners and they are devastated. They now walk Ruby on lead only apart from one special place where they have never seen other dogs, and she is then muzzled. She is even muzzled from the house to the car – just in case.

At home, apart from a short bout of wary guard barking when someone arrives, Ruby is the model dog indoors. She is extremely well behaved and peaceful, if aloof. In her quiet way she politely rules the roost, which dog owners often can’t see for themselves when they are living in the middle of it. Once out of the door however, Ruby becomes a different dog. She believes she should decide where to go and she pulls ahead. She believes she is the one on protection duty. She is ready to see off any other dog and I fear in the case of the little Sheltie because he froze, Ruby dealt with him as she saw fit. It could have been exacerbated by the human panic from both owners rushing at her and shouting, as Ruby stood over him. She believes anything that moves is prey for her to hunt.

Ruby is now seven years old and came to live with them at the age of three;  the damage will probably have been done already. Whilst they are doing everything they can to play safe for the sake of any other dogs they may meet and also for Ruby herself, they have now called me out to do something about the root of the problem – controlling Ruby’s prey drive, protectiveness and freelancing. She makes the decisions – so once again it is a leadership (dog ‘parenting’) issue.

Ruby’s owners are prepared to do whatever it takes, and realise that there is no quick fix. Leadership starts at home. If ‘her ladyship’ is selective about coming over to them in the house whilst always getting any attention she wants on her own terms, why would she take much notice of them when called if she has another dog in view or a rabbit to chase?

What we are looking to achieve in the end is for Ruby to be trustworthy so far as taking no notice of other dogs, and to focus on them instead which will require bomb-proof recall. ‘Socialising’ is unrealistic.

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

Stressed Jack Russell/Corgi X

Fred is a seven-year-old Jack Russel Corgi mix. For his first three years, on one hand he was so pampered he even had breakfast in bed, on the other hand he was left shut up alone for hours on end. When my clients took him four years ago he was very overweight and hyper. I would argue that extreme indulgance along with isolation for hours on end is on a par with physical abuse.

Very naturally my clients wanted to compensate for his being alone so much the lady took him everywhere with her, despite his panicking in the car. He is seldom alone. He follows her everywhere and sleeps in their bedroom at night.

This is a summary of a typical day for Fred:

At midnight he usually decides he would like to go outside – having just been out two hours beforehand. In the morning there is manic jumping up and barking while the lady tries to do his breakfast. Then there is the drive to take the children to school, starting with wild excitement at the door where he may have a little go at their other dog, a Jack Russell. He doesn’t want to get in the car, and once in he is shaking and barking – really frightened and stressed. This continues for the entire half hour journey. The children are dropped off and then he pulls frantically to the fields. They are off lead now for an hour or more. Next they spend an hour at the lady’s mother’s house. More excitement, big welcomes and stress. Then he’s forced back in the car with more shaking and barking. Back home, guess what, he doesn’t relax, exhausted! He is so hyped up he has to unwind and charge about.

Feeding is a battle due to over excitement, he parades, buries and guards chews and bones and jumps all over visitors. He is scared of everything from the vacuum cleaner to pushbikes and fireworks. Needless to say, he’s a barker.

They would like Fred to ‘listen’ and ‘do as he is told’.  In his current state commands go right over his head – and how necessary are they anyway? The priority is to help de-stress him so he calms down.

There is a lot of work to be done starting with rescuing him from the morning school run ordeal and instead leaving him at home with the other dog for company. His food will be changed in case that may be contributing to his hyper behaviour. He has bad teeth and they need sorting – toothache would make him edgy for sure. Meal times need to be calm however long it takes waiting. And the whole walking thing needs to go back to scratch – working on calm before anything else can be done.

It’s going to be hard work, but I am sure the family is up to it. Fred’s stress makes the lady stressed also. Soon Fred should start to enjoy life a bit more and relax. If he is calmer he will be more inclined to ‘listen’.

1st June: It is less than three weeks later, and just sometimes, especially where the owner is 100% on board, things fall into place very quickly. Here is the lady’s email. She had taken Fred back to the vet for a check up on dental work that may have been causing him pain: “Today Fred was totally different – no pulling (he had his harness on), no over excited lunges towards other dogs (he just wagged his tail and had a quick ‘hello’ sniff) and no bad reactions to bikes (we passed two cyclists!).  It was unbelievable – he was a real pleasure to walk with which I can honestly say has never been the case in the past! We even sat on a bench in the high street (we were a bit early for our appt), watched a tractor roll past (not a murmur of protest) and lots of busy people rushing up to the station.  Normally he would be yelping and pulling to get away, wouldn’t sit down and would generally be very stressed. Things are really going well and I haven’t let anyone slip back into bad habits! Fred is how he should be – calm and gentle, and I can’t thank you enough for all your help. We have achieved so much in such a short space of time.  Life is so much calmer and more positive.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Chasing Sheep

CockerpooBeing indoors with Bertie, Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross (Cockerpoo), it is hard to image him running off on a walk to worry sheep, or turning up chased by a farmer and with blood all over him. If the farmer had had a gun, Berite would now be dead.

He looks like pure Cocker, though there must be Poodle in there somewhere. He has a sweet temperament and is very obedient in the house. His owners have been very conscientious and thoughtful in training him.

Bertie is an example of ‘outside in’ versus ‘inside out’. His actions are largely regulated by human commands which means, at the end of the day and out on a walk with sheep about, he has the option of ignoring their calls for him to come back.

Encouraging Bertie to work out for himself what’s required, without commands, is the theme that needs to run through his daily life at home. He will also need to learn that whatever commands/requests are made of him, they are given once only.

As soon as the lead comes out Bertie changes into a different dog. He is very excited and pulls out of the gate. He has to be held back and corrected as he walks down the road. Off lead his recall is excellent – so long as he wants to come back and there is nothing else he would rather do.

Basic lead work so that they have an attentive dog is a must in the first instance. The owners need to work on making walking and being with them a joy, because a tight lead and constant correction can’t make being with them very rewarding. He needs to be walking by them nicely because he wants to (‘inside out’) not through force (‘outside in’).  He should have little or no freedom from a long line until he is conditioned to coming back straight away, pronto, no second call – whatever the distraction. Work will be done beside fields with sheep.

Recall relies upon a command. Giving a command always gives the option for refusal. Conditioning Bertie to come instantly to a whistle instead, making a whistle a prompt for him to automatically react by returning immediately, is going to be the way forward.

This could take months. Having now chased sheep twice, the second time ending in blood, Bertie is not going to stop now without some serious hard work.

A dog denied off lead freedom for as long as it takes is better than a dead dog.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.
 

Malinois/Collie

Malinois Collie crossThis is beautiful Lexy. She is a cross between a Malinois and a Collie. Lexy is eight years old and until the beginning of this year had lived all her life since she was a puppy with a very elderly couple until they could manage her no longer. They did well with her but they were unable to take her out for walks.

Lexy is a very polite dog if a little timid. Once her lead is brought out however, she becomes very excited, and once they are out of the door she pulls down the road to the extent her new gentleman owner, a big strong man, now has an injured shoulder. They have resorted to a Gentle Leader head collar which Lexy doesn’t like at all.

When she sees other dogs she may be playful or she may be fear aggressive. She may freeze and refuse to go further or she may lunge towards them. There is no telling what she will do though it does seems that her reactivity is mainly directed towards female dogs. Off lead she will mix with a group of dogs in an excited manner, rounding them up and jumping on them inappropriately. In my mind she does very well considering that for the majority of her eight years she never had interraction with other dogs on walks.

Her new owners are now trying to make up for all those years without walks with long walks daily. I am persuading them that, for a few days or a couple of weeks at most, no long walks will do her no harm while they go back to basics and start all over again with the lead walking, several times a day, for just a few minutes at a time near home. I demonstrated my usual technique with Lexy and she immediately followed me about on a loose lead with no trouble at all – so it will be with the owners when they get the knack!

Owners can always unlearn their old ways, and an older dog is never too old to teach new tricks,

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

Charlie the Cross Breed

Busy chewingIt was hard to take a photo of Charlie, because she was so friendly and curious that pointing a camera at her brought her over to investigate, so here she is, lying down, busy chewing a toy.

Charlie came over from Ireland and was adopted by her new family about three months ago. She has landed on her feet.

She is largely labrador, but has short legs and could be mixed with Basset Hound, Beagle or even large Daschund. She is very bright and very willing.

Like so many of the dogs I see, Charlie’s problems are out on walks. She pulls on lead, wants to see off cars, joggers and cyclists, and is very reactive to some people and all dogs. I suspect that if she were not trapped on lead, she would be a lot better, but with no reliable recall her new owners are unable to let her off.

Many of the dogs I go to have had traditional training, but not pulling on lead and tolerating other dogs in the class doesn’t always translate to walking on a loose lead down the road, being sociable to other dogs in the park and not chasing bicycles. I am a big believer in front-fastening harnesses for dogs that are stressed on walks. Not only are they more comfortable for the dog, they give the handler a lot more control. However, it’s not a magical quick fix. Equipment doesn’t solve the problem. Only the owner can do that – by behaving as a leader should in the eyes of the dog – which I have proved time and again does not involve correction, lead jerking, commands or force.

Charlie’s owners realise that this will take weeks, months maybe, patiently building up Charlie’s confidence and their own, but in the end they will have a lovely dog who walks beside them like there is no lead at all, will not react to other dogs or approaching people, and who will be able to run freely and safely off lead.

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