Huntsville Pets Helping People: Paws On The Floor
You headed over to your friend’s house. When you went inside, you were greeted by their dog jumping up on you. A nail got caught in your shirt and before you could react, you heard a rip. Your shirt was torn in a very noticeable spot. Duffy is not a bad dog, just one without manners. Never fear, with some time and effort, that situation can be remedied.
Everyone can agree that a dog jumping up on people is not polite behavior. Jumping up on someone could injure a frail senior, a young child, or even you if the action causes scratches or falls. Dogs jump up on people to get attention. They prefer positive attention (verbal praise, a kind touch, being played with) but negative attention (being yelled at, being pushed away) is still attention. There is a fix for inappropriate jumping up but it is up to the person to change the dynamic. When it appears that a dog is going to jump up on you, cross your arms over your chest so the dog cannot reach your hands and turn your back to the dog. This is referred to as “making like a tree.” The hardest part for you will be ignoring the dog while they are jumping on you. Do not say anything or interact with the dog in any way until the jumping stops. It may take several minutes for the dog to realize that they are not getting the attraction they seek and were used to in the past. Once all feet are back on the floor, you may offer a treat and complement the dog for being a good dog and not jumping up. Do that consistently over several days or weeks and the dog will realize that jumping up does not result in receiving the attention he desires. Then, you can redirect the dog’s behavior to sitting for attention. If the dog tends to be vocal, he may be encouraged to verbally greet you while still keeping his feet on the floor where they belong. My first Australian Cattle Dog was very vocal so I gave the behavior a name “tell me” as in tell me about your day. When I came home, I would say “tell me” and she would talk to me for a minute or two while all feet were firmly on the ground.
A reliable sit is a great skill for any dog to have because sit can be used to improve many situations. Sit can be used to eliminate jumping up on guests and family members, control the dog’s movement through door and gates, calm things down at meal time, and to make it easier to attach a leash to a collar or put on a harness for car rides or walks. In addition, the veterinarian and their staff and the dog groomer will appreciate your dog having a good sit.
Sit is a good management tool that can be used to encourage good manners. For example, I had a new dog who would get excited and try to bump me out of the way when I fed her. That was not acceptable because it was not polite behavior and because it was unsafe for me. I fixed the problem by teaching her to calmly sit before she received her food. The key to the process was consistency. If she did not sit, the bowl went back on the counter and she had to wait for her food. About five minutes later we would try again. We repeated the process as often as necessary until she gave me the behavior I asked for. It was simple, if she did not calmly sit, she did not get her food. However, a calm sit resulted in an immediate reward – her meal. She already knew how to sit. I just added a new sit when to use it. Within a few days, she understood that the key to getting food, including treats, was to give me a sit. She knew the requirement (sit or no food) but she was stubborn and did not want to sit so it took several weeks before she consistently and quickly sat for all her food.
Frequently, sit is the first obedience skill taught to dogs. Often, a dog will know sit even if they do not know any other basic skills such a come, stay, down, off, or how to walk nicely on a leash. Sit can be used to prevent or eliminate dogs from jumping up on people. As a person approaches you and your dog, ask the dog to sit. When all feet are a on the ground, paws cannot be up on people. Once calmly sitting at your side, the dog may be permitted to great the approaching person.
Sit can be used when a dog is entering or leaving a space to control their movement. The space could be a house door, a fence gate, or even a car hatch. A dog can be trained to sit and wait for an okay from you before they go thru the gate, enter or leave the house, or exit a vehicle. In addition to being a management tool, sit can be a safety tool. If a dog sits and waits for okay before proceeding, they will not dash thru the door or gate and potentially get injured running out into the street, go after the neighbor’s cat, or chase children on bicycles.
Being jumped up on by an unruly dog is not pleasant and it comes with safety concerns. Sit can be used to improve the situation. Have the dog sit to receive attention, get food, and to enter or exit spaces. Sitting dogs have their paws on the floor, not on people so sit is a great skill for all dogs to have.