She jumps up and she mouths.
Golden Retriever Tilly, at ten months old, has had a good eight months honing her jumping up skills!
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.