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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stop Dog Jumping

Do you love that feeling when you come in the door and your dog jumps up to greet you?  Well, unfortunately you are encouraging bad behavior.  If you are aggravated that your dog jumps on other people or on you when you don’t want him to, this could be a common cause, and it can lead to separation anxiety.  Whether your dog is ten or a hundred pounds, I’m sure you don’t want him to jump up when he wants.  If you love it when you come home but not the rest of the time, your dog gets mixed signals and doesn’t distinguish the difference. 

Here is an idea you can start working with.  Start teaching your dog that if he is calm, then he gets praise.  Don’t reward excitement and you probably are without realizing it.  Even pushing your dog off of you can come off like a fun game to play to him.  You need to claim your space, so start coming in the door ignoring Fido.  Now, he’s still going to jump, maybe even more so at first.  As soon as he does, use a treat and let him smell it.   You then try and force him into a sit position by putting the treat in front of his nose and moving it back along his head.  If he doesn’t know how to sit yet you will probably have to push his rear-end down as well.  When he starts to sit say “sit” and reward him when he is sitting.  Timing is key!  Don’t repeat the sit many times either, one time is enough.  Do not praise him vocally either or get excited when he does it because this will excite him again and defeat the purpose.  He needs to understand that this ‘new thing’ is the norm, not anything special. 

Repeat this about 10 times a day for a few days, coming in the door and having him sit.  He will start to anticipate the treat soon and when he does make him wait for it a little longer, then even longer, then don’t wait at all.  You need to mix it up for a couple of days.  Stay consistent by keeping treats in your car so you can come in from work or the store and do the same thing.  You should then mix it up by not always treating him, just have him sit, pause, then you walk away without a sound.  If he continues to jump when you move away, simply disagree with it.  This should be with a sound that isn’t a human word, a staccato sound like an abrupt ‘ah’ with your hand out to let him know that your body is yours, not his.  Claim your space!  Use whatever sound you like.  The cesar milan sound is popular like a ‘schht’.  If he is relentless, you need to take a deep breath and stand a little more authoritative like your lecturing your kids.  Also, put a leash on him so when he jumps you can do the noise with a slight pop of the leash down and to the side.  Now, it’s important not to turn around right away. 
The exercise isn’t finished unless he is submissive and not fixated on you.  You can tell this by his body language which should look relaxed, the head not focusing on only you, and the ears not erect towards you.  Him laying down with these signs is perfect.  It may take several minutes and especially with a puppy it could take many tries.  You must be patient.

The next step is to have a neighbor help or someone he likes to jump on.  Have the leash on him so you have complete control.  It should be loose and relaxed.  When the knock on the door comes have him sit a few feet from the door.  The neighbor should use no eye contact the first several tries because this heightens the excitement.  You can use treats if you think you need to, just make sure you are the one giving it to him, not the neighbor.  The attention must stay on you.  Eventually the neighbor can look at the dog and pet him with you there to correct him if he tries to jump. 

Do this exercise in different places where your dog jumps.  It could be just when someone comes to the door or it could be outside, at the dog park, anywhere.  The most important thing is consistency.  And you must continue to practice it several days a week for many months to see a true difference in behavior.

One more tid-bit, it’s always a good idea to exercise your dog before doing this controlled exercise.  You never want to set him up to fail so he needs to be a little drained of the extra excitement.  If done properly you will be surprised how quickly Fido picks up what you want him to do.


  1. hey I am one of Chris's friends from GA and i have a German Shepherd and she will not stop jumping up and guarding our other dog when we go out our back door. It’s like she cannot stand our other dog getting any attention and that all the focus should be on her. I admit I don’t exercise her nearly as much as I should. I do not know if this is the issue with this or not. I am going to try the method you talked about in your blog for the jumping and I’ll let you know how it goes. Also, she was trained at mansbestfriend which is a great training facility. The only issue is that they used a choke type collar to train her and her commands are great when that collar is on her but she wont have that collar on her every single time we go out the door. (eg. When we feed the dogs every night) I have been working and working on her stay command but she just assumes she can get up whenever she wants to and doesn’t have to listen to me. Sometimes she wont even look at me if her attention is fixated somewhere else, especially if there is a cat in the room. She’s very stubborn and hard to work with! I really need advice and help on how to train her. I really want her to be a good, socialized, offleash dog eventually! Thanks for your time!

  2. Jeremy,

    Well, my first bit of advice is keep the leash on every time you are doing something with her. When you feed her, put it on! That way you can easily correct her. She can't run around with it unsupervised of course, just when you are doing something with her like feeding. For example, during feeding do the dogs bolt out the door? They shouldn't. They should have there leashes on and be forced to wait, then when they are calm and can calmly walk out the door to be fed. If they aren't calm you do it over again till they are. If they aren't calm, no food. This can take many tries if they aren't used to it. This is where the leash comes in. It always gives you better control of your animal where you can make quick corrections because timing is everything! As far as the the stay command...again, you should always be at the end of the leash so it isn't a choice. Until she can stay for 2 to 5 minute periods on the end of a long retractable flexi lead consistently...and in a park or somewhere with distractions, she shouldn't be off leash practicing that ever! The reason-because she thinks it is a choice at this point. Her opinion matters more then yours. You must regain control of that. Now, once she starts to do what I mentioned, with you, in different settings with different distractions, on sit stays and down stays, then you can try off leash. You start small like in the house or back yard only taking a few steps from her. Once she gets good, test her more. Mimic distractions by clapping, jumping, dancing around her. Having neighbors come up to her when she is on a stay. Until she can do all of these things flawlessly ON leash, you can't expect her to do them off leash. By practicing these things and letting her get away with it you are making it a choice and she will always choose what she wants in other situations as well. That is why the leash is so important for a very long time. I have gotten to the point where my dogs have been off leash competing and so on-but i still practice with them with the leash sometimes. It's a reminder of whose in charge.

  3. With G. Shephards, whose in charge is the most important thing. When you go for a walk or run, is she infront, behind, beside? These things are important.
    She sounds young and full of energy. If she is jumping on you or anyone else, she is not just being sweet, she thinks she owns you. That has to change. For example, she doesn't do anything unless you say it's okay. She doesn't get on your lap, eat, jump on the chair, nothing without your permission. This simply means having her get off and wait, then you say it's okay. With this breed it's very important. Honestly, you just got yourself a dog with the protective instincts of a rottweiler, but the endurance of a herding breed. Lots of work. You need to be stern with her to let her know who's boss. The corrections shouldn't be rough, but strong to let her know who is in charge of whom.
    When this balance is corrected, she won't jump on you, guard the other dog, or disobey you. As far as guarding the other dog, I'm not there to see it, but my instinct tells me she owns everything. You, the house, and the other dog. Your attitude should be that this is unacceptable! You stand firm claiming your space, your other dog, everything. Don't ever push her back because this will be seen as a challenge, always make quick, abrupt corrections. Yelling usually heightens the situation, just like with people so I know you want to yell NO, but it won't help for long. An odd sound is better, but don't over use 'ah', or 'chhht' Mostly it needs to be done with body language and hand motions because this is what they pick up with the easiest.
    Also, what I've seen with men is when they stand firm with there dog, they can come off as a threat. Make sure you are not emotional or frustrated. You are standing strong, arms down, breathing calmly. When you are working with her and you do get frustrated, take a break! She will sense it and either get frustrated as well, or decide to push your buttons even more.

    Bottom line, she is going to test you in every possible situation until she figures out who is in charge. G. Shephards are trained to spend hours a day in training, on duty, constantly being challenged mentally and physically. Stubborn is there nature when they are good working dogs. You will only win with patience and consistency. If you work with her for a while then get relaxed and she sees an opening she will take it! They are bred to be that smart. It's there job. Stay calm, patient and consistent and let me know how it goes after a few weeks.
    I know you already know this, but it's a good idea to exercise her before training sessions where the edge has been taken off atleast.
    For better focus, try treats, but don't always give them to her. Sometimes a treat, sometimes just a good girl.
    Look at it from her point of view-she is couped up for X amount of time everyday, waiting for someone to come home so she can have some stimulation. She is bored, growing anxious, etc. Not the best combination for a highly intelligent guard dog. So, what does she do? She takes advantage of every situation possible to stimulate her brain and body...jumping, barking, protecting, challenging YOU to see where you stand in the pack.
    The breed you got is difficult and demanding, but if done properly, she'll be the best dog you'll ever have.
    I don't know how young she is, but if she is under 2-2 and half years old, she will be challenging you every second of the day over and over. Like when you were a kid and mom said don't touch that and you held your hand over it. Same thing except more endurance! Hang in there and I hope to hear from you in a few weeks.
    You can always call Dogercise-818-732-1364 for more exact help.