You walk in the door after a long day of work, and your pup is SO excited they flying through the air, and jumping all over you. I mean clearly it’s been devastating, and they had no idea if you would EVER return, but does flying through the air like a nut really have to be the way they deal with it? So how do you combat their inability to control just how excited they are to see you? Let’s break it down…
Your dog is clearly looking for something, right? It’s attention. The whole reason they come at you like a freight train is because they are so excited, and they want attention from you. For some dogs it’s more of an issue when you have been gone for a while, possibly work or out running errands. For others it can be as simple as the devastation of you walking to the mailbox and back. Does it mean they need you more? No. Does it mean they have separation anxiety…possibly, but lets get real, this is a VERY common issue, and just because they act like nut jobs when you walk in the door, doesn’t mean they are struggling with any type of anxiety, they are just happy to see you, and get some love.
Of course, like any reasonable trainer, I’m going to tell you to walk your dog. Join a sport, or compete in something…exercise is so important, both physical and mental, but we have covered a lot of that in previous weeks already. Make sure you are incorporating both, and daily walks for physical exertion will be key. I know that “exercise your dog more” isn’t something anyone really wants to hear, but sorry to break it to you, it’s necessary, and playing in the back yard isn’t going to do what you need. So leash them up, find a fun hobby to do with your buddy, and if you can include kiddos, even better!
Don’t Humanize your Pet-
So your worried about separation anxiety in your new puppy…but you don’t want to leave them alone? Sorry to be the downer again, but it’s important that your dog learns to be alone, and starting at a younger age it will be better for them in the long run. I am pro crate training, and while I NEVER force my clients to use anything against their will, I do highly recommend crating for a few reasons. When properly introduced, the crate is like a bedroom, and your dog can enjoy it. It teaches self control, and allows them to be left behind in a safe space that they can’t get into any dangerous situations without supervision. But crating is a discussion for another day! So whether you are leaving your puppy in a crate, or a laundry room, take advantage of it, and start leaving them behind for reasonable periods of time. If you have kids, have them take a cookie, and put your dog away (wherever you feel is best) for you before you leave each day. It gives the kiddos some control…otherwise try to be calm when you lock them up, sobbing uncontrollably at the idea of leaving your dog to go grocery shopping might be confusing for your furry pal.
Remember the 3 D’s-
Okay, so we have covered the basic prep ideas, so lets look at the actual habit of jumping. It’s pretty common in class for people to tell me they struggle when they come home, when they have guests over, and randomly when the mood strikes them. If you come home from work, and your dog is loose and flying through the air, start by following the 3 D’s
If your dog WANTS attention, you want to remove it until you get the physical behavior your looking for. SOOO, that means you literally act like your dog isn’t there, until they calm down. Fold your arms, turn your back, and keep walking away from your dog. DON’T look at them, don’t try to sooth them, or pet them, just ignore them. At this point your teaching your dog that attention can come their way, but ONLY if they provide the right behavior first! A good rule to follow is ‘All 4 on the floor, or no attention’. Once they mellow, CALMLY reach down and pet them, if you get excited, they get excited! So take if slow, with a pat on the head.
So what happens if your dog calms down, and you give them that so desired attention, and they just go nuts? REPEAT. Consistency is key, or you will never get the results your looking for. IF your dog doesn’t seem to calm down, calmly and SILENTLY take them to their kennel (finger in the collar don’t touch the body…that means don’t pick them up!) lead them in, shut the door and walk away. Once they mellow, let them out and try again.
When you have guests over, I like to warn them at the door, and give them the run down. If you have someone unwilling to participate (which is totally fine) put your dog in their crate (or safe area) while the guest is there. It has nothing to do with letting a stranger tell you how to run your house, it has to do with consistency for the dog. If the stranger can’t follow the rules, you don’t want them to mess with all the hard work you have already put in with your puppy. You can’t occasionally follow the rules, and occasionally let them jump up on SOME people, it’s all or none.
When your working with kids and dogs things get a little more complicated. Kids tend to help rile dogs up a little more, but aren’t ready for what they are getting started! SO, prepare them for the reasonable response, which is EXACTLY what is listed above. The other thing is, make sure your supervising, that way you can step between your dog and child, and use your body to create a better boundary. Teach your kids not to scream and run, it makes it so much worse! Tell them to fold their arms, and turn away from the dog. It’s important that no one is pushing the dog away, or inadvertently riling them up even more.
Your teaching your dog some self control, and that’s a good thing!