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Obedience Training

(Part 4 of 6) By Doreen Gray

It seems as though the last few weeks I have gotten the most phone calls about dogs who are jumping so I thought that I would take a break from our "heeling work" and deal with this.

Please try to remember that in MOST cases the dog is giving you a VERY happy, excited greeting. The dog isnít usually the guilty party here, it is usually the owner who is at fault.

We will start with puppies. It is cute when a puppy will get all excited when you are near and his instincts tell him to try to see the face. The worst thing you can do is allow him to jump up now. He CANNOT understand that today he is allowed and tomorrow, while you have your good clothes on, it is wrong. Your puppy is smart ... but not that smart. So PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW IT! Be gentle while discouraging this socially unacceptable behavior. Remember, you may not mind your dog jumping on you, but it can be dangerous to an older person or a very young child. Also, should your dog scratch someone, the scratch COULD be mistaken for a bite and open a whole set of other, more serious problems.

For the average dog, you can help by kneeling down so that you are at eye level to the dog. This eliminates the need for the dog to jump. Assuming that the dog knows the sit command, now is the time to use it. Praise the dog WHILE ALL FOUR FEET ARE ON THE GROUND! Feel free to reward with a treat.

You will need to gradually stand up and when you do, it will help if you have a hidden treat in your hand. As the dog approaches, extend the hand just over his head (above and between the eyes) letting him smell the treat. This will force the dog into a sit because as the head rises, the rear lowers. After the dog is in the sit position treat and QUIETLY welcome him. Be sure NOT to excite the dog now, as he may jump. DO NOT TREAT THE DOG UNLESS THIS IS DONE ENTIRELY CORRECT!!! If you do, you may inadvertently teach the dog the wrong thing. (Holding the treat too high will cause the dog to jump).

Should you still have a problem, I think that you should let the dog "drag" his lead, while under constant supervision, and "set the dog up." You will need a few willing friends and/or family members. The "helper" will knock on the door, you will need to get the dog (with the lead on) next to your left leg, BEFORE you open the door. "Sit" the dog and stand on the lead as far up on the lead as you can without pulling the dogís head down, the lead should be snug, but NOT tight. As you open the door, shake hands with the helper, greeting the helper with enthusiasm. This will entice the dog to jump ... but remember, you are standing on the lead. He receives a well deserved correction, and YOU DIDNíT DO IT! The helper should QUIETLY acknowledge the dog and promptly leave. Repeat many times, the dog will tire of the game and quit jumping. Practice with as many people as possible.

If your dog continues to jump on you, and not others, DO NOT yell, yank, shove or push the dog, simply turn around. DO NOT acknowledge the dog in ANY way. STAND STILL ... SILENT! The dog will tire of looking at your back and will drop, as he does, slowly turn around and quietly praise (JUST A PAT) and walk away. This is a gentle enough discipline, that will not hurt the dogís spirit and IT WORKS ... if it is done consistently! Consistency is the key. If you allow the dog to jump, of his own accord, even once, you will teach the dog to try it again and again.

Until next time, Happy Heeling!

(Doreen has had Mastiffs for eight years, Rottweilers for ten years and has spent the last six years training. She is licensed by the National Dog Trainers Association and has been teaching for the three years. Several articles on training have been written for the National Dog Trainers Newsletter. Her focus is on CGC, TDI and behavioral work, primarily with Mastiffs. Two of her Rotts are obedience titled).


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