How to Solve Dog Behavior Problems

Stopping a Dog from Jumping

Whether it's a body slam from a bubbly big breed or the frenzied hind-leg ballet of a toy pooch, jumping up is a universal trait -- and problem -- in our canine companions. There's no doubt this behavior is cute in puppyhood, but as a puppy grows -- especially if he's a big dog -- what was once cute can be downright dangerous. You may not mind the full-contact greeting, but the first time your two-year-old niece or 87-year-old aunt gets decked coming in the front door, you'll think very differently.

In fact, even though jumping up can be solicitous, friendly behavior, it is more often a dominance thing. Especially in adult dogs, a subordinate would never think of putting his front paws on the body of a dominant dog. So the excited, shot-from-a-cannon greeting that makes you feel good may actually be your dog saying, "You came back! Okay. Just remember I'm the top dog here." You can respond on two fronts: Teach your dog that spontaneous jumping up is not acceptable, and train him to jump up on command when you say it's okay.

To curb his overly physical greeting, act as relaxed and laid-back as you'd like him to be. When you come home, don't run into the house, calling excitedly for your pup. Instead, make his greeting part of a routine rather than a special event. Walk in the door, hang up your coat and keys, and then greet the dog calmly, away from the front door. If Bruno tries to jump up, step aside and don't pay any attention to him. Like kids, dogs love to be noticed, whether it's for good behavior or bad. Yelling at your dog or kneeing him in the chest will only excite him more, so avoid any kind of verbal or physical reinforcement of his jumping. Once your dog learns you don't want him to jump on you, teach him to sit when you come home. If you reward the sit with a treat or praise, your dog will soon learn good things come to he who sits and waits.

When to Call the Vet

This type of behavior usually doesn't require any veterinary attention.

Now let's consider another dog behavior that can become excessive -- marking his territory. It's covered in the next section.

Teaching Your Dog to Jump Up on Command
If you want to teach your dog to jump up only on command, be sure your dog first knows when not to jump up. Wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty or torn, and make sure your dog's nails are trimmed and filed. (It might be a good idea to brush his teeth, too!) Pat your chest and say, "Up!" When you want the dog to get down, step back and say, "Off!" (Don't use the word down or you will confuse him when you try to teach the down command.)

Always use the chest pat and the word up to let your dog know it's okay to greet you this way. If he tries to jump up on you or anyone else without an invitation, firmly tell him, "Off," and then ignore him. Dogs are smart, and Bruno will get the message that he is only allowed this behavior when you say it's okay. Be sure your friends and family follow this routine, too, or Bruno will be one confused dog. Dogs like rules, and they like everyone to follow the same rules.