"You are here! Here I am! We are here!" You can feel the tangible excitement the dog is feeling. She wags her tail powerfully, swinging her rear end with it. Her eyes are bright and alert and her paws are trembling with the rush of adrenaline until she just can't control herself anymore and she is airborne. Leaping with joy, expressing her delight with exuberance. But, she has broken her owners rule and a sharp reprimand followed by a tug on the leash is short to come. "Off!" Her owner does her best to get the dog's attention. "No jumping!"
This is such a common scene for pet professionals. The entryway becomes a trigger for dogs who get excited to come visit us and that will trigger their owner to become upset or embarrassed. We try to ease the situation by staying calm, positive and in control while trying to avoid feeding into the excitement. Still, there is little we pet professionals can do solely by our own actions. I have learned the jumping behavior has deep seated roots that requires some strategy and co-operation to tackle. First, I must highlight the fact that jumping behaviors are born of pure, unadulterated joy so we must proceed with compassion and patience. Trying to "stop" a dog that is already wound up is like stopping a train that is up to speed, they will go right through you. Instead we must redirect the momentum and excitement and set reasonably attainable goals. More than anything there must be consistency, meaning enlisting the Family and Friends, Groomers and Vets that spend time or work with the dog to follow though in a uniform way. By redirecting the dogs energy, we can praise behaviors that are desired and recondition the dog’s expectations for the entryway. Very quickly, most dogs will expect to do a simple trick for an easy treat, and that is more alluring than jumping and facing trouble.
Before going somewhere your dog will get excited, fit them with a harness that has a leash loop on the breast bone or front of the harness. These work by redirecting the direction the dog is facing when they pull or jump, turning the dog to face you. You can then call them back to your side and praise can be given for the return. Next, pack high value treats. These may be different for every dog, but basically it means treats they wouldn't pass up for the world. Now, make sure the pet professional is ready to have a calm demeanor, and prepared to reward your dog ONLY when they are being settled and well behaved. When your dog is beginning to get excited, take a treat and call for a basic command such as "Sit" and reward the sitting behavior. This will redirect their energy to an easy to understand task with a big reward and praise. The pet professional should mimic your actions for a short time after your dog has been left in their care.
This advice was provided by Susan Rodman, Dog trainer in North Adams, MA. If you would like further advice she can be reached at (413) 250-2483. With patience, this moment can be an enjoyable and controllable experience.