210 Pinebush Rd., at the corner of Pinebush & Franklin.

How to stop your dog from jumping up on people

Q. Having read your article in yesterday’s paper and, acknowledging that our problem may not be a veterinary visit requirement, I was compelled to write in the hope that our situation might ring a bell and that you could shed some light as to how we might best approach it.

We are in our eighties and our dog is a very important part of our lives. That said Charlie 2, now fifteen months old, has shown to be a totally different animal in many ways. He is full of life and his motor never slows down. He is a lovable dog to both of us and is lost when we leave for a short period to shop. On our return he is all over us and crying or barking till we calm him down. Keeping him from jumping up is a task and made more embarrassing when friends arrive. Is it possible, as some have surmised, that he is still a pup and will eventually grow out of it.?

Hopefully, Doctor Louise, You may have some words of wisdom for us.

A. First of all, I would like to start my answer by telling you and all my readers that behavioural problems in pets are a good reason to visit your vet.

You may not know this, but we do receive considerable training in vet school on this topic. Many veterinarians take special interest in this aspect of practice. Our medical journals have regular articles with tips and updates on how to deal with dogs and cats behaviour. There are even veterinarians who specialize in this, a dog or cat psychiatrist so to speak, so if your veterinarian does not know the answer to your questions, you can be referred to someone who does.

Also, trainers at obedience classes are another great resource. Have you considered taking Charlie to dog obedience school? It is a lot of fun and he will enjoy socializing with other dogs too.

It sounds like Charlie 2 is a lovely dog, and I agree that some of his high energy is because he is still a puppy. However, there are some training techniques you can use to make him better behaved. Otherwise, he may not outgrow his bad habits.

I think your main concern is that he jumps on you and on your guests when he is excited. He gets attention for doing this, of course, even if it is a scolding, and so he does it all the more.

What we are going to do is teach Charlie that he will no longer get attention for jumping up. He needs to “sit” and “look” in order to get what he wants.

I want you to start by feeding him his kibble from your hands, piece by piece, rather than from a bowl. Hold a piece of kibble above his nose and slowly move it backwards over his head. He will have to sit in order to be able to see it. Say “Charlie, sit” while you are holding the kibble near his nose. As soon as he sits, say “good sit” and release the kibble into his mouth. Then move back a few steps so he has to get up again to be near you. Repeat the exercise over and over until you have fed him his entire meal by hand.

It will likely only take 2-3 five minute sessions to teach him to sit. Charlie may already know how to sit, but it will be a good review for him, plus I want you to teach him to watch the kibble during the sessions. We will want him to do that for part two of the training (coming up next).

To teach Charlie to “look” at you whenever he sits, first have him sit. For this part of the training, don’t give him his kibble yet; instead, move it from his nose to yours. Do reward the ‘sit” by saying “good sit” however. Then, say “Charlie, look” or “Charlie, look at me” while you bring the kibble to your face. He will be watching it intently, of course. You are bringing it to your face because you want to teach him to look at your eyes and to watch you for any command you might want to give. Once the kibble is close to the top of your nose (between your eyes) and Charlie is looking there, give it to him and say “good look”. Repeat the “sit” and “look” exercise over and over until you have fed him his entire meal by hand.

You will want to do these training exercises 3 times per day (feed him his daily rations in three divided meals) for a week or two. You should also keep some of his kibble in a Ziploc bag in your pocket, so you can randomly ask him to sit and look during the day.

Ignore Charlie whenever he jumps or barks. Once he has stopped on his own, ask him to “sit” and “look”. This will teach him that the only way he will get attention is to sit and look at your face attentively and quietly.

The third step is to teach him Charlie to “sit” and “look” whenever someone comes to the door. One person should go outside while the other is inside. Both of you need to have some kibble (divide his breakfast in two between you). Daddy can ring the doorbell. Mommy asks Charlie to sit and look. Once he is quiet, Daddy comes inside. Daddy then asks Charlie to sit and look, and gives kibble treats as a reward.

Next, ask a friend or neighbour to help. They are to ask Charlie to sit and look once they get in the door, and give him food rewards for doing so. For the next while, try to supply visitors with some kibble before they come over. You can leave some in a Ziploc by the front door, to use once they get inside the house.

After a while, you can substitute petting and praise for food.

Please, always ignore (don’t punish) bad behaviour and only give Charlie attention for getting it right. Ask your friends and family to do the same. No exceptions! It’s for Charlie’s own good.

I predict that in a short time, you will have the best behaved dog on the block! Good luck and don’t forget that your veterinarian is a great source for information such as the advice I have given you today.