By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
Believe it or not, most people do not want to be greeted by your dog's two front paws and a nice slobbery tongue to the face. Even if your dog can only reach the knee caps, it can be a safety issue, or sometimes people just don't like dogs.
Dogs have a whole different language than we do, which deals a lot with body language. While a nose to your butt or crotch may be terribly embarrassing to you, it's just how dogs get information. Dogs also enjoy getting in your face and possibly giving kisses too, and because your face is all the way up there, well they just have to get to it! So, how do we teach our dogs that some people just don't appreciate a full frontal greeting? We teach four on the floor!
When to Start?
Ideally, you should start managing and teaching this concept to your dog or puppy as soon as you acquire them. It is so much easier to teach this to a puppy who has not had a long history of reinforcement for this behavior. If your dog has already practiced this for years and you are just sick of it, or you recently acquired an adult who came with this sometimes annoying habit, there is still hope! Just remember that your dog has had years of reinforcement for this behavior, so it is likely that you won't fix it in a day.
Manage the Situation!
Before we can start teaching our dog or puppy to keep his four feet on the floor, we have to stop the behavior in it's tracks. The longer your dog can practice this behavior, the more reinforced the behavior will become. This is making sure your dog never has the opportunity to jump on someone.
If you are expecting house guests, either keep the dog on a leash so he cannot get to the human, or separate him in another room or crate. If you are not able to train your dog when someone comes into your house during the training period, do not allow your dog to practice this undesirable behavior, remove him from the situation to make it easier for him. It is not nice of us to expect our dogs to know better before we have had the chance to show them what we want. They are not mind readers, even though that would be wonderful!
But I want my dog to be able to interact with my house guests! We're getting there. :)
It is easier to train your dog in a 'training' situation. Do not pull out some treats and a clicker when you have a novel guest coming over, as it will likely be too much stimulation for your dog and he will likely jump.
First, we have to think of what we want our dog to do, instead of just saying, "I don't want my dog to jump up." Okay, so what can our dogs do instead? Sit? Stand? Down? Most people want our dogs to sit when we have house guests, but sometimes that is just so hard to do with a wiggling tail in the way. So let us just say we want our dog's four feet on the floor as they go up to our guests.
I am going to assume that if your dog is jumping on house guests, they also jump on you. So since they see you every day, we will start with using your own self as the target. Grab a clicker, some yummy treats, and tether your dog to a rather sturdy object. (Heavy couch leg, tree, door, etc.)
With a clicker and treats in hand, start out of reach of your dog's legs. As you approach your dog, click immediately for the dog's four feet on the floor before he has the chance to jump up. Throw the treat on the ground so the head goes down, making it impossible for your dog to eat the treat and jump up at the same time. As your dog is eating the treat, click again for four on the floor and throw the treat down again. Do this a few times rapid fire (click/treat, click/treat, click/treat, rather close together before your dog has time to practice the bad behavior). After four or five times, add a slight pause as your dog is eating the treat, and they will probably start lifting their head to look up at you, click this and throw the treat back down. Slowly begin lengthening the time between each click/treat, getting a feel for that moment right before your dog begins to even think of jumping up on you. After thirty or so seconds, back away and give your dog a break. Frequent breaks are important. It allows the dog a few seconds to process what just happened and for them to store away the 'lesson' they just learned.
After a few seconds, approach your dog again and click/treat before they jump again. Continue working on lengthening this process in short 30 second sections. Don't forget the breaks! Okay, so now your dog is catching on to the game. Approach your dog again and wait a second before clicking as they stand there looking up at you. Click/treat and walk away! Work on the approach quite a few times as that can be the hardest part sometimes! Now the next time you approach, bring your hand out towards your dog like you are going to pet them, and click/treat before they can jump and before you even touch them, and walk away. A hand going out to pet them can be so hard sometimes. Sometimes they just don't want to wait for that hand to get to them, so they speed the process up by meeting the hand half way. Always remember four on the floor, even if the paws aren't touching the person. Begin to work your hand closer and closer to the dog without them jumping until you can scratch them on the head or underneath their jaw (wherever they prefer).
So now that your dog is appropriate when you approach them, let's teach them how to be appropriate to guests. Enlist the help of a close friend or someone who your dog sees quite often. We want the novelty of this person to be pretty low so the dog isn't too excited.
You can either hold the leash now or keep your dog tethered to the object. I recommend tethering your dog to an object if you are new to clicker training, that way you don't have to juggle the clicker, treats, and a leash together. Your treats may have to be more novel or 'high value' for a new person, so that our dogs will be more interested in the reward than the person. For very people driven dogs, that can be hard. It's a matter of trying different treats with your dog and seeing what really gets them excited. Most of the time it will be something moist and smelly.
You will repeat the above steps with the new person. When you go to take your breaks, I would work on calling your dog's name once, and then click/treating them for turning towards you and walking away with you. If your dog is tethered, I would stand a few feet from the dog, call them, and click/treat as they walk towards you, having your guest also walk away at the same time. This builds the value of your dog's name, and helps your dog practice leaving an exciting situation, which can be hard for them.
Start doing these training sessions with as many people as you can and in as many different places. Dogs do not generalize well so it takes many repetitions with many new people and places to generalize this no jumping idea. You can now begin to utilize this training when you have random guests come over. Remember that it might be harder when you have multiple people over, so always take that into account. If you don't feel like training for that particular guest, or you fear your dog will be too overwhelmed, remove them from the situation so they cannot practice the behavior.
Being persistent is a big part of having a dog who does not jump on guests. It's something very simple to work on, but it does take commitment to yourself and your dog to never allow them the opportunity to jump on someone. Accidents do happen, but it is our job to make sure they do not happen often enough that it selectively reinforces the behavior and makes it even harder to get rid of.
"While we were training, my dog was still able to jump up on me!"
Then you were moving too close/fast for your dog. It takes some practice, but you have to work on getting that click/treat before they have the opportunity to jump. Is it while you are approaching? Click/treat before you get close to them, and toss them the treat. Work the rapid fire click/treats while you approach them, and then leave. Do this a few times until you don't have to click/treat as fast as you approach.
If the jump happened at a random time while you are training, remove yourself from the situation without acknowledging your dog (including pushing them down or saying 'No!") Give them a few seconds to regroup and go back and continue your training. Removal of reinforcement will speak volumes to your dog when they want your attention and the food you're giving out.
"This this and this happened, and my dog was accidentally out while a guest came over and he jumped all over him. How do I stop this situation?"
Make sure your guest removes his attention. Again, no pushing or talking to the dog, or saying oh, it is alright. Once the dog is not getting any reinforcement from the person, if you are confident your dog will come to you when you call his name, do so and reward your dog for listening to you. Remove your dog from the situation, but don't forget to reward your dog coming to you first! If you don't think your dog will listen to you, but is okay with you collar grabbing, remove your dog how you see fit. The most important thing here is the stopping of reinforcement from the guest, and you getting your dog away from the situation. Just remember that there is no reason for you to yell or hit your dog in this scenario, as obviously it is not their fault they were able to practice this behavior.
If you have any other questions that arise in this training scenario, feel free to comment. I may or may not try and make a video tomorrow with a dog who is new to clicker training and the idea of four on the floor.
By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
There are many blog posts and studies proving that you do not need to be a 'pack leader' to your dog. If you would like more information on this, I am more than happy to point you in the right direction. This post is more about what I AM instead of what I'm NOT (a pack leader!).
There is a video going around right now of many trainers stating their name and that they are not a pack leader. I would like to join them. I am Monica Callahan. I am a KPA-CTP, business owner, and owner of two dalmatians, yet I am not a pack leader. My dogs do not run the house, they abide by the rules, yet I am not a pack leader. I am an owner, partner, and friend at different points in our relationship.
I am an owner, and a responsible one at that. I provide food, exercise, and shelter for my dogs. This is what is expected of you as a responsible owner. I do not make my dogs eat after me, I do not withhold food for bad manners. My dogs are still well behaved.
I am a partner. It is my responsibility to show my dogs how to act and to teach them the rules of the house in a humane, safe way. I do not expect my dog to listen to me because he should automatically respect me. That respect develops and is earned just as you would earn it with a child. My dogs are my partners in the show ring. When we start gaiting the circle, or begin the agility course, we work together because we enjoy it, not because I am commanding my dog to follow me.
I am a friend. Who wants to live being afraid of your fellow housemate? I am not afraid that my husband will hit me, nor my child, why should my dog be afraid that I am going to hit them? When we go for walks, when we enjoy a night in, I am enjoying the company of a companion, a friend. We are comfortable with each other, we enjoy each other. We do not fear each other.
Monica Callahan KPA-CTP
By Monica Callahan KPA-CTP
One of the most popular items to work on in dog training is loose leash walking (llw). No one wants to be dragged around by their best friend from tree to tree. You would think it's just something a dog should KNOW, but it's not. In fact, being tied to a tether is something dogs have to get used to, because its just not natural.
Before beginning your journey of loose leash walking, you first have to desensitize your dog to being on a leash if they are not already. This is a very common practice with puppies. Bringing the leash out and click/treating when the dog interacts or sees the leash is a great place to start, as you're beginning to associate a tether with good things. If your dog was a stray that you adopted, there's a good chance your dog may have never been introduced to a tether as a puppy, so this is also great to work on with adults as well.
Soon you can begin to bring the leash closer to your dog's collar/harness and click/treat for your dog allowing you to do so. Eventually we would like to clip it to the collar/harness. And so at this point, we have to begin teaching our dog that as long as there is slack in the leash, he will get good things.
The first step to loose leash walking:
(There are many different techniques that can be used to teach loose leash walking, this is just one of them!)
- The left side is the good side! We don't want to constantly be tripped by our dogs crossing in front of us to go sniff over there or see this twig right here. We would generally like our dogs to stick to a certain side of the walkway while we stick to ours. You can teach your dog that the left (or right) side is the side to be on. We generally pick the left side because when teaching the sport of obedience, it is all performed on the left side, so it's just easier for people to remember. So how do we teach our dogs that the left side is the place to be?
It is up to you if you would like to start with your dog leashed or not. If you are afraid that juggling a clicker, leash, treats, and your dog will be too much, eliminate the leash for now. Begin inside your house, where there are not a lot of distractions. Let your dog wander around you a bit, and if they happen to cross your left side, go ahead and click/treat. Feed your dog the treats from your left hand, keeping the clicker in your right hand. It may take a few tries, but eventually you should be seeing your dog moving to your left side in hopes of a treat, and then eventually staying there.
When your dog is consistently moving to your left side, try turning to your right. If your dog takes a tiny step with you, click the instant they step with you. The important thing to remember now is to click as your dog is moving (but clicking while your dog is stationary on your left side will never be harmful). We want your dog to understand that moving as we move is what we are reinforcing, making sure they aren't forging ahead of us.
Once your dog is comfortable moving in a circle with you, try to take one step forward. Did your dog move along your left side with you? Click/treat as you're moving! Stay with one step for awhile, make sure your dog has the hang of it. You can introduce a cue before you take your step. I tend to use 'Let's Go!', then step, click/treat. Use the cue before you take a step whenever practicing loose leash walking.
I am going to stop here, and show a video of Megan and Kevin, one of my students, in the beginning stages of loose leash walking. Megan and Kevin have accomplished their loose leash walking inside and are bringing it outside. There are many more distractions outside than inside, so we have to lower the criteria a lot in order for Kevin to be successful. Remember, we always want our dogs to be successful. If they are not, then we moved too quickly and should go back a step until they are.
Look for the next step in our loose leash walking journey soon!
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
By Monica Callahan KPA-CTP
Dress codes are always a big thing in the human world. What do you wear to a wedding? A night out on the town? How about when you work out? Surely you wouldn't wear a ball gown to go play baseball! People know when you wear a certain outfit, you do certain things. It's the same for our dogs!
Dogs are actually quite smart, and they can know when a certain item means a certain thing to do. A good example is when you pull out the leash. If a dog loves going out of the house, they are going to become conditioned to know that a leash means they get to leave. Leash= excited dog! Well why can't flat buckle collar= loose leash walking and back attachment harness= okay to pull? It can!
If you are consistent with your dogs, they can even learn the difference between types of collars and harnesses.
Whenever you want to work on loose leash walking, choose what collar/harness they will always wear whenever you expect it, and only use that when training and loose leash walking. Many prefer to use a front attachment harness, martingale, or flat buckle collar when loose leash walking. Make a commitment to your dog and yourself that you will never allow your dog to pull in this item.
Sometimes while we are training, we just don't have the time to not let our dogs pull. This is when conditioning to harnesses/collars can come in handy. Running late to the vet and just don't want to worry about your dog loose leash walking? Decide something they can pull in (usually a back attachment harness as it will do the least amount of damage on the body/neck/esophagus) and use that whenever you want to allow your dog to pull. It also comes in handy because concrete is very good at wearing your dog's nails down. If you take a long walk once a week wearing their back attachment harness so they can pull, it can help your dog to keep their nails groomed.
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
A whole new year is upon us, the year 2013. As the New Year starts, everyone is busy making resolutions about weight loss, career goals, and being an all around better person. A lot of times, people forget about the furry four legged friend in their family when it comes to New Year's resolutions.
Nobody's dog is perfect, and there is always something that can be worked on in the human/canine relationship. People look at dog training as boring and tedious, when it can actually be quite fun when you find the right way to train. With endless possibilities of things to train with clicker training, why not work on that problem behavior your dog has, and maybe teach a few other fun things along the way? You'll be hooked on training for the rest of the year. Maybe you will have that perfect dog!
Anything's Possible is looking to help you with your New Year's resolution. Throughout the month of January, keep an eye on our Facebook page for challenges, videos, tips, and deals all in celebration of the New Year and National Train Your Dog Month!
By Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP
(A repost from my old blog, March 10, 2011)
Charging the Clicker–
This gets the dog knowing that when I click the clicker, you get a treat! Best thing ever!!! My trainer tells me you should even do this after they know what the clicker is. It keeps the clicker charged and it’s just good to refresh with your dog sometimes.
After the dog knows what a clicker is, start saying their name, click/treat. This gets attention every time you say the dogs name. I can see a big difference between Delta and Doc with this. Every time I say “Doc”, no matter what he is doing (even when highly aroused around a dog), he flips his head back towards me and looks. That’s because he’s used to hearing Doc, click/treat. I always make sure to reward him somehow when I say his name. I love having this recognition. Delta, although I am now working on it a lot with her, will still wait a few seconds or possibly not even listen depending on how aroused she is.
This is the basis to leave it. Doc has picked up on leave it so much faster than Delta has. You put a piece of food in your hand. Close the fist, put it down so your dog can sniff it. Your dog, depending on how demanding they are, and if they have done this before, will try to mug your hand. You can have a dog that will bump your hands a few times and stop, try to eat your hand, or anywhere in between. As soon as they pause away from your hand or pull back a bit, click/treat. You’re telling your dog that when they aren’t pushy and leave the treat alone, they get the treat.
You can eventually open your hand and if the dog goes to the treat, close it. When they pull away for that split second (when your hand is open), click/treat. You will eventually have a dog not going towards the treat in your open hand. Eventually this leads to putting it at different areas around their head in your hand and they leave it alone. And then eventually putting it on the floor with your foot close to it in case you have to step over it so the dog doesn’t go get it. When they leave the treat alone for a second without you covering it, click/treat.
This is where I see Doc surpass Delta the most. Doc and I work on eye contact ALL the time. In the beginning, I would just sit there with Doc on a leash and wait for him to look up at my face, click/treat. It begins to happen more and more. For dogs that have trouble with eye contact, you can shape it, beginning with a turn of their head towards you. Then move to looking at you anywhere on your body, and slowly pull it up to your head. Eventually, I would expect longer periods of eye contact before click/treating. As I upped the distraction, I lowered the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. With no distractions, I would up the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. Now, while it is quite creepy sometimes, Doc will just stare holes into me in obedience class. He is lucky he has such beautiful eyes. :)
Monica Callahan BS KPA-CTP is the owner of Anything's Possible LLC in North Olmsted, OH. She graduated from The University of Findlay in 2011, double majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Biology. She also has a minor in Chemistry. Monica went on to attend Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior, and graduated with distinction in January 2012. That is when she decided to open Anything's Possible LLC.
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