Hey DGGT family! As the end of the year is fast approaching, that means some major holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner in Saugus, Massachusetts. This can be a really exciting time for dogs and humans! From the hustle and bustle of getting to host friends and family in your home, to all kinds of delicious foods cooking in the kitchen, it can be an overwhelming sensory experience for our canine companions. This week we are going to explore a common behavior you might encounter this holiday season and what we can begin practicing how to set them up for success.
With people coming and going from your house more often over the next couple of months, your dog may become very excited and a common behavior we see is unwanted jumping. Jumping up to greet humans face to face seems to be, in our dog’s mind, a perfectly natural way to say “hello.” After all, they are used to looking at and reading facial cues from other dogs whose height is much more similar to their own when compared to a human’s height. Although their reasons are understandable, it is not always appropriate, especially with children or elderly people who are more susceptible to getting injured from an overexcited attempt at a face to face greeting. Let’s explore what we can do to keep our guests happy and thinking you have the best-behaved pup ever!
Let the training begin!
1: Reward when all 4 paws are on the floor.
This can happen constantly throughout the day, not just during planned training sessions. We like to set aside a portion of our dog’s food to be used throughout the day to reward any behaviors we like, and we highly recommend doing the same. This is being proactive instead of reactive! Your dog will learn that he does not have to jump to receive what he wants.
2: Pair coming through the front door with treat scatters on the floor.
If your pup anticipates food is going to rain from the sky anytime the door opens, he will be busy scavenging treats off the ground and not jumping on your guest. Recreate the scenario of someone coming through the front door multiple times a day.
3: Teach them what you would like them to do instead.
Preemptively ask them to sit and stay before they jump. Take it nice and slow in the beginning, even your entrance through the door should be slowwww to keep the excitement to a minimum. As your pup masters, a molasses greeting begin to increase the distraction level. Reward this with treats, play, or calm petting.
If your dog jumps during a training session, do not reward them. Remember that even just speaking to them can be reinforcing for your pup. Instead, calmly remove yourself from the situation by going back out of the door or into another room.
Management and prevention are the unsung heroes of dog training. The less your dog has the opportunity to practice the unwanted jumping behavior, the more traction you will get as you work to train the behavior you would like them to do instead. Baby gates are a great way to keep your dog from being able to rush the door. Having them on a harness and leash when you know people are coming over is another great option. For many dogs, that initial moment of coming through the door is the most exciting. Let your dog calm down before allowing him freely among your guests. Additionally, just before people come over, set aside time to get that top layer of explosive energy out. Play a nice game of fetch, or go for a long sniffy walk! Giving your dog an outlet for some of that energy is imperative to help get a handle on jumping behavior.
With a little bit of training and proper management, your guests will be raving about how well-mannered your pup is! Here is to a happy holiday season for both you and your beloved pets!
Alexis Chateau is the cat-momma of Shadow, the pompous PR puss who writes for the Dog Gon’ Good Time blog. She is also a former animal shelter volunteer who has helped to rehabilitate dozens of cats and dogs, as well as a strong advocate for #AdoptDontShop. Find her team on Twitter and Facebook as @AlexisChateauPR.