Stop jumping up and being so wild

Yesterday a young guy told me he was trying to train his golden-doodle to quit greeting people by jumping up and putting his front feet on their shoulders. I grinned and nodded. He said he was afraid the exuberant dog was going to knock old ladies over and also scare smaller kids. He went on to tell me his dog was wild because he was only a year old.  I smiled.

This topic makes me smile, because it is so totally handler error
. My pocket psych diagnosis is that people want love and excitement from their pup and, oops, jumping up and wild is what they get. The excuse is that he (she) is still a puppy, but usually they are talking about a 6 month old to 2-year-old dog who could easily have learned this in the first month you had them. It’s great to let a puppy be a puppy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t learn politeness conventions. Puppies are sooo willing to learn, don’t waste time and if you don’t know how to train this cutie get help – early is better than later. Later you have to un-train and retrain, instead of just train right from the beginning.

How to stop the jumping up and acting wild.

1. Be neutral when it happens – as in no response – no words.

2. After the flurry of first actions your pup will usually sit, or at least have 4 feet on the floor – praise this and reward this immediately, but not so much that they start jumping up again.

3. Be neutral if they start jumping up, mouthing, or otherwise acting wild.

4. Start to see the pattern of what you do that gets them to do what they do. And how long they do stuff, so you can predict when to reward for a behavior you like.

5. Don’t let anyone reprimand, push, pinch, step on, hit or otherwise give negative attention to the behavior – since the behavior is an attention-getting behavior any attention will foster it. Plus hurting your pup for wanting your attention is mean and makes you untrustworthy.

6. If you want the behavior of jumping up on you at certain times be very clear, have clear cues and practice. If the dog tries to do it randomly they get nothing – no reward, no attention, no response. A cue is clear if a person from 50 feet away can tell what the cue is and what dog action you are rewarding.

7. Having fun athletically is only wild if it’s not mutual, there is no pattern and there’s no ‘we’re done now’ piece. Play with a beginning (invitation), play, and then a control cue end … then cycle again. But if you’ve stopped and the puppy hasn’t, you continue to have stopped … the game ends and doesn’t re-cycle until a good long break. Otherwise – you’re training ‘wild.’ I cheer, heckle and sing while we’re playing wildly so they can obviously tell the difference when I stop and ask for a sit, down, or stand or any other cue.

8. Plan what you want to actually train for a greeting (like hand
target, or feet up on something other than you and get petted,
or bring me something or sit or carry something for me or spin or dance or …)

Well the young guy with his golden doodle didn’t actually ask for advice, but if he reads this maybe he’ll be successful before too many old ladies fall over with a curly wild dog on top of them.


                                   Jeanine Renzoni, Dog Trainer, AKC CGC Evaluator


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