HOW TO KEEP "FOUR ON THE FLOOR"
Dogs want to be in our faces. They know communication happens from our
faces. The only problem for them is our faces are out of reach! So, in
order to get there, they jump up on us. For non-dog people, this is disrespectful
and annoying. For most dog owners it is, too.
As in teaching any new behavior, a command needs to be attached to the
action. "OFF" is my choice, because "no" is already
said TOO often. Many people choose "down", but that command usually
is already used for putting the dog in a prone position. If given the choice,
they may make the wrong decision:
When Bailey my Golden Retriever was young, I thought I could use "down"
for lying on the floor, as well as getting "off" people, as well
as getting off furniture or beds. One day, my mischievous adolescent jumped
onto the bed and was using it as a trampoline. I demanded "DOWN!",
and she laid down on the bed! Now, she did NOT disobey me, she just made
the wrong choice for the meaning of the word! As the light went off in
MY head, I had a REALLY good laugh!
OFF can be used to remove paws from bodies, counters, or furniture;
it will mean the same to the dog.
Before any OFF training begins, the SIT command must be trained and
understood (see related article). Sit is the foundation for control and
leadership. Sit will then be the choice for the dog to make instead of
jumping, or after OFF.
There are several ways to teach "OFF" -- some are more confrontational.
- The least confrontational way to deal with OFF is to turn and/or back
away from the dog when he jumps on you, using the OFF command, then SIT.
Always PRAISE when the dog makes the correct choice.
- Most jumping dogs can be seen before they make contact. Try raising
a knee in the air BEFORE the dog connects with you, and use the OFF command.
Jumping on you will be difficult and uncomfortable because your knee will
be in the way, and some of the more exuberant dogs will hit your knee and
find it unpleasant. If you raise your knee AS the dog jumps on you, your
timing will be off, and your dog may be hurt. I don't recommend this method
because it may be too forceful for some dogs and may cause injury, it puts
you off balance and is not a nice gesture for other people (especially
kids) to see.
- My favorite method to teach "OFF" is to have a training collar
on the dog and put him in a sit in front of you with his leash attached
to the collar. Let the leash dangle onto the floor, and firmly step on
the leash where it angles onto the floor. "Set up" the training
by making the jumping inviting (talking cute, "eating" a treat,
etc). When the dog tries to jump, he will self correct WHILE you are telling
him "OFF! SIT!". Do this several times in a row, and most dogs
will start to get the idea after the 2nd or 3rd try. Some of the more exuberant
dogs will seem to be dense about it, and have to be reminded a little firmer.
This method needs to be done a couple times a day, for several days or
more. Each time you practice, the dog will remember quicker. After you
think the dog understands what "OFF" means, you can then do the
same thing with the leash, but actually act like you are inviting him to
jump: tap on your chest with both hands, talking cute - "Do you want
to come up?" and then reinforce with "NO, OFF, SIT!". Be
careful you don't praise so enthusiastically that you inadvertently encourage
your dog to jump up again.
- Two people are needed for this method: one to handle the leash and
dog, and one to "encourage" the dog to jump. The dog needs to
have on his training collar and leash. The Handler and dog approach the
helper, and the helper encourages the dog to jump. The Handler MUST have
good timing, and needs to give a quick "pop" on the leash and
collar with the command "OFF!" (the tug should be in a downward
fashion, in the opposite direction of the helper). NO PULLING the leash
- the handler must TUG & RELEASE ("pop") the leash and collar.
If done correctly, the dog's paws NEVER touch the helper! SIT should come
after OFF, and the praise comes from the Handler, NOT the helper. This
should be done 5 to 6 times a session, depending on the dog.
- The last method is the person the dog jumps on takes each forepaw in
each hand when the dog jumps, holds them, and walks INTO the dog, repeating
"OFF, OFF!", and the dog will roll into a sit or walk clumsily
backwards. If necessary (ONLY IF), the paws can be squeezed and/or the
rear toes can be lightly stepped on.
"But what about when someone comes to the door?", you say.
Have a leash and training collar readily accessible by each entry door.
Call out the door: "Just a minute! I'm training my dog not to jump!"
I'm sure the people on the other side of the door will be more than happy
to wait! Then use the moment as a training opportunity! Or, if you don't
have time, crate the dog. But remember no teaching happens to a crated
Never use your hands to push the dog off of you, because dogs will misunderstand
the touch as petting or praise. If the training method you are using doesn't
require the use of your hands for leash control or grabbing paws, then
your arms should be folded away from the dog.
A few last words about OFF:
- After your dog understands the commands SIT and OFF, your command to
the dog, if your timing is right, will be "SIT!", and no paws
will touch your body. If your timing is not good, then the command will
be "OFF! SIT!". Also, once the dog understands what OFF means,
then the word can be used as a reminder BEFORE he jumps up.
- Remember - dogs DO NOT understand "sometimes" or "maybe".
If you don't want your dog to jump, he should never be allowed to jump!
- Dogs also don't understand when you are in your work clothes (therefore
"no jumping") as opposed to your weekend clothes (OK to jump)!!
Once OFF, always OFF, or you have a jumping dog and you deal with it!
- I myself have dogs who jump because I have allowed it, but they also
understand the "OFF" word. I also have a word to invite them
to jump up. I tap my chest and say "UP!"
As always, consistency and praise for appropriate behavior is the answer.
Pam Young, LVT
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer