Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Jumping" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog


By Charlotte Peltz

"When my dog jumps on me, I should knee him good and hard in the chest. Right?" "Has that treatment been working well for you?" "Well, not really. Now he jumps up on the back of my legs!"

This conversation happens over and over and over again with some variations, but only a handful of the people who ask for my help or even those who complete an eight week course ever really solve this oh-so-simple problem. Let's investigate the origin of jumping to better understand why it happens and, with a little luck, begin an approach to solving it that is both humane and effective.

Puppies lick the faces of mom, superiors in a pack and superior pups in a litter. It is good manners. It shows respect. It should therefore always result in fair treatment! In order to achieve that behavior it is often necessary to jump up since a superior older dog wouldn't even consider bending over to allow the pup to achieve its goal.

Then pups want to lick the faces of the humans they encounter, and usually that is achieved by picking up the pup that is jumping, and allowing him access to the face. Often the first pup to jump up on the side of the puppy pen is pet first or picked up first, which strongly reinforces this behavior. The young pup goes home and jumps up joyously on one and all he encounters, and all bend over and give the little cutie a pat and a scratch. But, then one day, the little pup isn't so cute anymore, has grown big enough to be quite bothersome, and is still jumping up for the trained rewards it has been getting almost since the beginning of its life.

Now the trouble escalates. From far and wide one can hear cries of "Get DOWN! How many times do I have to tell you to stop jumping on me? DOWN!" And, the pup is given a big shove. The pup meanwhile views all this as a jolly ol' time and thinks he is a star. After all, anything that gets that big a rise out of so many people must be part of a great game!

And, the solution? The pup must have a proper way to greet people to receive the much wanted and very much-needed attention. That way is to sit each and every time he greets a person. Tough, you say? Not at all! It begins with teaching sit for treats, before receiving a meal, before having the collar put on and the leash attached, before each and every pat and scratch, and any other time something good is about to happen. No freebies! Sit for everything!

The next part is more difficult, but of equal importance. It involves totally ignoring the behavior that heretofore has been getting so much attention. Yep -- No hollering, no kneeing, no shoving, and, for sure, no telling the dog to "Down" since that command means to lie down -- not to get "off". I can't tell you how difficult that is for so many people! They just gotta start telling this dog how it should be, and that is not going to work. Not today and not tomorrow.

Here is a clue to help with the entrances and such that are often riddled with hysteria. Again - ignore the dog. Not even any eye contact. BUT, do not step back when the dog jumps and do not go around the dog to avoid the jumping. Walk straight ahead. Note -- I did not say knee the dog. Just walk forward. That teaches the living pogo stick that it has been attempting to enter your space and you aren't having any of it, thank you very much.

And what about that dog mentioned in the opening lines who began to jump on the back of the person's legs? Well, the poor guy is trying harder and harder in the only way he knows how to show he is a very good puppy indeed, and trying his best to get to the oaf's face to lick and show submission and respect. I wonder if that owner will get the point one of these days?

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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