No Jumping

Nov 18 2014 : Mirror (Bangalore)

Jumping is one of the most common problems that I see with my clients’ dogs. I stay up at night to think about this rather J interesting problem. You see, as we walk our dogs, along the way, our dogs have made friends with a few homeless dogs. So they play with each other. And there is no jumping in that play. The homeless dogs come up to us to get petted and there is no jumping there either. Then what happens to these dogs when they come into our homes and become part of our family? Where does this jumping come from? Simple answer ­ us. We teach them that. In that light, it’s a very good exercise to examine what we do to encourage our dogs to jump, something that is actually not so natural for them to do.

Tigger gave me a very good guide on how this simple need to get our attention transforms into jumping. When she came to us, she was a true blue homeless dog. She did not jump and wanted physical contact in very limited ways. But over time, we have successfully taught her to jump. How? By rewarding her profusely when she jumped. Each jump was followed by immense petting and lots of affection. To a point that she got addicted to that reaction and would jump higher, more enthusiastically, faster and now even theatrically…anything that gets a reaction.
I am not on a mission to get her to stop jumping. It’s very easy with her. She is a little dog. So when she jumps, I consciously think of what might constitute a reaction and refrain from giving it to her.She backs off and then I call her to me when she is sulking away in a corner and compensate with love and treats.
My other dog Nishi, on the other hand, is a massive dog. The first challenge is to ignore her jumping and give her no reaction at all.At the least, most people squeal out of surprise or pain when she jumps, as she is one muscular, strong dog. That is more than enough reaction for her and she will keep at it. So it has dawned on us that if she gets an opportunity to jump, she WILL get a reaction, one way or another. So the answer is to get her not to jump at all.So here are some tips to avoid the jump all together.
One way is to get very predictive and advice people around that as soon as the dog starts walking towards them, they turn away and not make eye contact with the dog or say her name. That way, she comes by and walks away. This works great if you are introducing your dog to one other person in an environment where she has other things to do. So if the person is giving her enough message of not being interested in her, Nishi leaves them alone.
In confined areas where there is too little to distract her and predictions get hard, put her on a leash till the first part of her excitement is out of her system, then let her go off the leash very unceremoniously and give her something to chew on so that she settles down.
For guests visiting home, it’s a good idea to go meet the guests outside with the dog, walk about a bit and walk back in together.Again give a bone to chew on, scatter some treats for the dogs to search and find.
But there are two things to remember with these techniques.Firstly, dogs do not generalise easily. So if they learn it with one person, they don’t know to offer the same behaviour with another person. So it’s important to practice this with as many people as possible in the first few weeks till you start getting perfect behaviour from your dog.
Secondly, this cold shoulder treatment is not for life. So don’t feel guilty. As soon as your dog learns to greet you and your visitors politely, then you can be nice to your dog, pet him and tell him you still love him so, so much. It’s just a little tough love at the start to lay a strong foundation for your relationship. As tough as it might be at the start, it’s all worth it in the end to build a warm loving canine family.

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