Saturday, October 6, 2007

How to Cure Jumping Up

I’m in the process of revamping my website, and I want to make a list of training tips available here (on the left). So here’s another tip from one of my newsletters.
How to Cure Jumping Up
Does Muttsy jump up on you whenever you come home? Does he do the same thing when friends come to visit? Have you been telling him “Down!” or “Off!” with little or no results?

There’s an easy fix, but first you should know that when a dog jumps up he’s usually expressing an energetic state called “social attraction.” This is not something you’d want to quash or squelch in your dog. In fact, you actually want to nurture more of it, because social attraction is the repository for the same emotions that make Muttsy want to come when called and walk nicely next to you on the leash. These emotions comprise one of the basic keys to Natural Dog Training.

There are two simple rules about jumping up: the dog should never be rewarded for jumping up unless hes asked to do so (i.e., given the command to jump up) first, and 2.) the dog should never be punished for jumping up, at least not overtly. To “enforce” the first rule, just make sure that whenever Muttsy jumps up without being asked to, simply twist sideways while saying, “Okay, off!” in a pleasant, inviting tone. His idea is to make contact; yours is to not let him.

As for teaching Muttsy to jump up on command, that’s pretty simple too. Just show him a treat or a toy, hold it in front of his nose, then move it up to your knee or thigh, or wherever Muttsy would naturally put his paws if he were to jump up. As he jumps up say “Hup!’ in an inviting tone. (When first teaching a new behavior it’s always a good idea to give the command after the dog has already obeyed it, not before—it sounds backwards, I know, but it works much better during the initial learning stages.) 

For dogs who show an initial reluctance to jump up, try doing this while seated for a few days, then transition to getting the dog to jump up while you're standing.

Once you've gotten the dog to jump up on command, and the dog has taken the treat or toy from your hand, twist sideways while saying, “Okay, off!” in an inviting one. With most dogs you’ll only need to do this for a few days and he’ll have learned to jump up on command—no more need for treats or toys.

For XXL dogs, have them jump up to an outstretched arm, or just have them lean up against you. For dogs who are shy about jumping up, start from a sitting position or even by lying down on the floor. Gently encourage the dog to come make contact, starting with just one paw on your chest and building slowly and gently from there. 

Give yourself something like two weeks of short, two-minute sessions, several times a day to bring this type of dog along. For dogs who are too energetic about jumping up, teach them that they only get rewarded when they make calm, steady contact. No “pogo-ing” allowed! 

After a few days add a twist: hold the dog’s collar as you give him the treat or toy. Don’t let him jump down (or if he’s an XXL dog, don’t let him stop leaning against you) on his own. If he tries to break contact, hold him in place for a fraction of a second, then let him go while saying, “Okay, off!”

Okay, now that the dog has learned the “Hup!” and the “Okay, off!” it’s time to trick him! 

Stand as you usually do, then pat your knee or thigh, but don’t say “Hup!” Just induce him to jump up without giving him the command, just use the treat and hand gesture. When he jumps up, step back or twist sideways. Don’t let him make contact! Do this two or three times in a row, depending on how soon he starts to show uncertainty about what you want him to do. Then, on the third or fourth time, pat your knee and say, “Hup!” Praise and pet him when he obeys.

With really hard cases it’s okay to put the leash on, let it fall to the floor, stand on it with just a little slack so that Muttsy self-corrects when he tries to jump up. When he does self-correct give him lots and lots of praise so that his positive social emotions and energy don’t shut off.

Do this for a few minutes, several times a day, for two or three days, and you’ll be surprised at how Muttsy no longer jumps up, yet is still socially attracted to you!

Detailed descriptions of these exercises can be found in the groundbreaking book Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan.

"Changing the World, One Dog at a Time"


neilsattin said...

Hi Lee,

Excellent post - it's definitely important to address why jumping up is a GOOD thing - and I like how you mention that teaching your dog when it's appropriate to make contact (or jump up) you are, by default, also training them to *not* jump up unless they're asked.

As for the "corrective" element for a hardcore jumper, here's an additional thing that has worked a little better for me. It's easier with a partner, but can be done alone if necessary:
Instead of standing on the leash, have your partner hold the leash (you should be using a regular flat collar), and then set up your dog to do the unwanted jumping-up. When the dog jumps up, your partner will put tension on the leash (not a "correction" - just holding the leash up so that the collar makes your dog uncomfortable) - and at the instant that the dog loses interest in jumping up, the tension on the leash goes away. There is no voice correction - both you and your partner remain neutral, so it simply registers with the dog "hey I'm uncomfortable" and they take action all on their own (relaxing their body, heading back for the ground) to correct the situation.

One reason to try this method is that sometimes the more "shock-like" self-corrections of standing on the leash can actually ADD energy to the dynamic of the dog's jumping up. Just something else to add to the repertoire when dealing with the ultra-addicted jumper-upper.

When you combine this technique with the more IMPORTANT process of teaching your dog to jump up on command (as you detailed splendidly), it won't take long for the dog to get things right.

Thanks for the great post!

LCK said...

Thanks, Neil,
With frenetic jumpers I find just the opposite to be the case; they need to have more of a correction to calm them down. Kevin likens these kinds of corrections to taking hold of a tuning fork to stop the vibration. But it's true that it can take quite a few corrections before they "calm down."
That said, I've never tried the method of slightly increasing the tension on the leash (mostly because neither I nor most of my clients have training assistants). But if I'm in a situation where I can do that, I'll try it.


neilsattin said...

One time when there's an opportunity to do this is when you first arrive at a client's house (or, for a client, when guests arrive). Your client would be the one lifting up on the leash when their dog tried to jump up on you (so your arrival is the "set up").

Another technique that I forgot to mention - a body language technique. If you hold both of your hands out with your palms facing the dog in a "stop right there" sort of way that has the effect of bouncing your dogs energy right back at them and makes jumping up way less appealing. I find that this frequently works better for me than the twisting away technique if you're working with a dog that interprets the twisting away as actually engaging in the game. It is, in fact, more "prey-like" to twist away - so potentially more attractive to the dog. Whereas holding your hands out is definitely more "predator" in terms of the energy you're projecting. Just another addition the bag o' tricks.


LCK said...

I like that. I actually use the flat-palms gesture in other contexts.
I've never had much of a problem with twisting sideways -- it generally only takes three repetitions for the dog to stop trying to jump up on me -- but I know some other trainers have complained that it's ineffective. So I think I must be doing something other than just twisting sideways if I'm getting results and they aren't.
As for being more predator than prey animal, I'm not sure I agree that that's what you want to communicate to the dog here. I think you want him to feel a desire to connect with you through his prey drive. That's one of the functions of the jumping up exercise as I see it -- it reduces social resistance. I know Kevin has recently backed down a little from the way it's used in the book, but the sense I got from him is that it can sometimes be used by the client as a way of relating to the dog, rather than as an impetus and mechanism for re-directing the dog's energy into you.


neilsattin said...

"it can sometimes be used by the client as a way of relating to the dog, rather than as an impetus and mechanism for re-directing the dog's energy into you."

I find that a lot of what I'm doing is re-training my clients to experience the redirecting of a dog's energy at them as THE way of relating with their dogs - at least the most fulfilling I thnk that they're totally in alignment. Maybe what you're getting at is that clients are more into this kind of exercise when it is viewed as a way of relating to their dogs?

You're right - you definitely don't want to be going all predator on the dogs - it was more a "why the flat palms is a good deterrent" explanation. And I agree with your original theme in the post, that emphasis should be on teaching jumping up in the right times - not on discouraging it in the "wrong" times.


LCK said...

I think we have different definitions here of what "relating to the dog" means.
What I was getting at is that jumping up on command can be used as a substitute for, or rather as a means of expressing, physical affection. And what physical affection tends to do (in general terms) is offload the dog's internal tension/excess energy in a way that fosters neediness; it leaves the dog wanting more rather than feeling fully satisfied.
This would be in contrast to playing "chase me" or tug, where the dog's internal tension/excess energy is offloaded in a more natural way, one that leaves the dog feeling satisfied and complete rather than one that leaves him looking for and needing more physical contact.
I hope this explains what I meant.


neilsattin said...

I *think* I get it now. I look forward to discussing the finer points in person one of these days.

Personally I think that the physical affection, the way it's customarily delivered by dog owners, actually is creating more stress for the dog - stress that'll need to come out in the search for prey at a later time (or in an overload behavior when the dog can't relax). Ironically I think that the "neediness" can be mutual!

The "pushing" exercise that I describe on my blog was (I'm pretty sure) Kevin's evolution of the "Hup" command that he talked about in his book - in that it is fostering contact with you (removing the social resistance) in a way that directly resolves stress (like chase or tug). "Hup" is great, though - for all of the reasons you have been describing. "Chase me" and "tug" rock as well, of course.


summerinbrooklyn said...

Wow interesting exchange!!

I was training Summer this Sunday morning, doing a strict sit/stay/recall/front sit/heel finish, and it's an exercise she LOVES doing. The act of recall gets her totally riled up sometimes, so much so that she sometime physically runs into me. What I've done for myself, which makes her sit instantly, is to thrust my hip area out to her as she comes in, almost bumping her into a sit.

She also does this thing sometimes when I say sit, and don't say stay, she'll try to get up to follow me, and I turn to her and do the same hip thrust gesture, and BAM her little tookus hits the ground again on her own. It seems to work for us. In terms of jumping up, she doesn't do it to me anymore unless I invite her, but she WILL try to jump on other people who show her any attention. Any advice on how to get her to generalize? i always tell people, PLEASE don't encourage my dog to jump, but they're fools...

LCK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LCK said...

The best way to generalize to other people is to get some volunteers to help you. Do the exercise Neil suggests. Have a friend ask Summer to sit and reward her for sitting. Then have them act excited and happy and even pat their chest. They are NOT allowed to say anything to her about jumping up. (In fact they should be like the guy in the Allison Krause song*--they should say nothing at all.) Meanwhile you're holding the leash.

Here's how Neil describes it:

"When the dog jumps up, your partner will put tension on the leash (not a 'correction' - just holding the leash up so that the collar makes your dog uncomfortable) - and at the instant that the dog loses interest in jumping up, the tension on the leash goes away. There is no voice correction - you and your partner remain neutral, so the dog registers 'I'm uncomfortable' and take action on [her] own (relaxing [her] body, heading back for the ground) to correct the situation."

Personally, I'd also have your friend give Summer a treat at the moment that she goes back into a sit.
Do this with 4-5 people in various locales and she should generalize it. You don't have to enlist friends, either. You can probably get some volunteers at the park, as long as you can tell that they're fairly intelligent and can follow your (my) instructions.

I hope this helps!