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JUMPING UP: TEACHING CONTROLLED GREETINGS
Three main treatment modalities alone or in combination work best to control jumping
behavior: withdrawal, control devices (leashes and head collars), and teaching
an alternative behavior such as “sit” or retrieve.
■ Withdrawal: Remove any inadvertent reinforcement for the behavior by ignoring
the dog and withholding all interactions until the dog is calm.
The person should stand calmly, turn away from the dog with arms crossed
and no eye contact until jumping ceases; in cases where the dog persistently
jumps, the person may need to walk out of the area, closing a door.
Once jumping has stopped, the person can return attention to the dog and
calmly interact with the dog but should cease interaction if jumping begins
People should avoid rewarding the jumping with interactive responses such
as pushing the dog off or yelling.
■ Increasing control and using control devices:
Head collars greatly facilitate owner control and the ability to restrict jumping
by providing control of the head. Pulling up and guiding the dog into a
sit will stop the dog from jumping up.
Visitors can be greeted outside or inside with the dog on a leash and head
collar, or the dog’s access to the situation can be restricted by placing it in
another room until the visitor is seated.
■ Teach “sit” and “stay” as an alternative method to greet people.
When the dog is calm and relaxed, practice sitting for a food reward in
different areas of the house with the dog wearing a leash and head collar.
Begin with short sessions of 3–5 minutes with 8–12 repetitions per session.
Use highly palatable food rewards cut into small pieces.
Add the word “stay” when the duration of sitting is a few seconds; take a
step away, return to the dog and give the food reward.
Build up the time away from the dog to 1–2 minutes.
Repeat exercises near the door and with the addition of leaving and returning.
Next ask the dog to sit for a food reward when returning from work or other
absences of a few hours’ duration.
Familiar visitors can enter, ask the dog to sit, and give a food reward.
Alternatively, the owner can reward the dog for remaining seated as people
enter also using the head collar and leash for control.
Eventually the food rewards can be reduced to intermittent use.
■ Some dogs remain too excitable to sit when visitors or even the owners enter the
home. These dogs may do better if a ball is tossed as a visitor enters.
This is more beneficial if a dog has been taught to sit prior to an item being
■ In all situations, the owner should avoid increasing the dog’s excitement by walking
calmly to the door and speaking in a quiet voice.
■ Stepping on the dog’s toes or squeezing the paws should never be done; activities
like these are cruel, often are ineffective at diminishing the jumping, and can lead
to more problematic behaviors, including aggression.
Drs Horwitz and Neilsen, Canine and Feline Behavior
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