Do You Have a Pushy Dog that Jump up, Chases or Nips?
Whether a young puppy or an adult dog, jumping up, chasing and using their mouth to “control” people or other dogs is not only annoying but also potentially dangerous. Jumping up and nipping is particularly pushy behavior. Here are a few tips for managing these behaviors into oblivion.
Don’t accidentally agitate your dog and encourage him to jump, chase and nip. The most common victims of being pushed down by dogs, bitten and chased are young kids. Kids are actually the most effective agitators, meaning, they invite the inappropriate, aroused behavior because of THEIR erratic and aroused behavior. Kids tend to make high-pitched noises and move quickly in unpredictable patterns. This can seem particularly prey-like and trigger that drive for many dogs. In herding breeds, it’s not at all uncommon for the dog to attempt to herd people and other objects, even nipping at heels as they go.
Have you ever seen a dog being agitated for protection work? There is a lot of flailing around of whips, burlap sacks and eventually arms with bite sleeves attached to them in an effort to get the dog to target the movement and chomp on it. In the average person’s home, it’s usually an unwilling decoy that wants to get away from the dog, but the same motion and action causes the dog to target and if the dog is excited enough, to chomp.
Many people unintentionally elicit and reward jumping up starting from puppy-hood when it’s cute and acceptable behavior that makes us feel good. Often it’s simply a greeting ritual – your dog is just trying to get up close to your face to lick your mouth and see if you are going to regurgitate part of your lunch for him (I know, it’s gross in polite human society, but made perfect sense in the wolf pack for transporting a portion of the kill home to the pups). Sometimes the behavior is out of pushiness, the dog is literally “throwing” his weight around. In any case, it can be dangerous especially for young children and seniors.
As you can see, elicitation of natural drive is the culprit for a lot of these behaviors. Be aware of what environmental triggers, including arrivals/departures, play, feeding, kids, and toys are contributing to these behaviors and do whatever you can to control them to help your dog be successful.
Don’t allow your dog to jump up on furniture, for now. When trying to undo bad behavior, it’s helpful to make the new rule as clear-cut as possible to clear the way for generalization of the new rule. When teaching your dog to not jump up, it’s best to simply teach him not to put his feet up on anything or anyone, period, this includes climbing up on furniture. It also makes it impossible for a dog to jump up on a person that is seated on furniture.
If you’ve allowed your dog to climb up on furniture without express permission, just start locking down the furniture. You may need to leave a line attached to your dog in order to guide him down when he jumps up. Later, he can get on the furniture with permission.
If your dog DOES jump up, show him how beneficial it is to get down. It’s far superior psychologically if the dog makes the decision to get down rather than being pushed or forced down. He will remember his decision to get down on his own (because of a consequence he received) and be less likely to jump up in the future. Do this by grabbing the dog’s paws when he jumps up and squeezing the pads until he starts to try to pull away from you. He will realize that it’s uncomfortable for him to jump up and much more comfortable for him on the ground on all fours.
Teach your dog to take treats politely. Some very food-motivated dogs that aren’t as careful with their mouths may grab at a treat and clip your fingers. One way to avoid this is to present the treat to a dog on a flat palm (like when hand-feeding a horse). This may be a good solution for young children.
An adult can teach a dog to take a treat politely by holding a treat in a closed fist and allowing the dog to “go after” it (assuming the dog won’t bite down hard or do real damage in their efforts). Don’t open your fist until the dog gives a slight retreat or pause. All dogs will, because they will be perplexed about what is going on and will at some point take a moment to try to “figure out” how to get the treat. When the dog does that, open your hand and present the treat on your flat palm. But make sure you capitalize on the brief moment.
Do that a few times, and then start to require the dog to wait a little longer before you give the treat. If he goes after the treat before you’re ready to give it, close your fist again move your fist towards the dog’s nose. Once the dog is calmer around the treat and taking it more hesitantly and patiently, he will be able to take the treat with more care.
Teach your dog that play stops when his teeth touch your skin. This is a relatively simple one of consistently reinforcing a boundary. When playing with your dog, if his teeth touch your skin, give a sharp sound or squeal to startle him and say “All done.” Take the toy and put it away and walk away from your dog without any other ceremony. Be consistent with that and he’ll start to make the connection about what causes the play to stop and he’ll be more careful.
Train your dog. Obedience training is very effective at stopping unwanted behavior and changing the relationship dynamic with your dog. Once he stops seeing you as someone he can push around, he’ll stop trying. An e-collar is particularly great for these pushy types of behaviors because it allows you to interrupt the unwanted behavior proactively but without having to become confrontational with your dog, which can sometimes cause the dog to escalate their behavior. Rather, simply hit the stim. button when the dog jumps up. You don’t even have to say anything. He quickly makes the association between the uncomfortable sensation and his front feet leaving the floor and chooses to stop doing it.
I strongly recommend you enlist the help of a professional trainer that is experienced in working with different training collars in order to use them safely in training.
Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump up, Chase and Nip
We include general manners like not jumping up, not chasing and not using teeth in all of our training programs. Check out our different dog training options and contact us if you’d like help getting your pushy dog under control.
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