Our last blog talked about how dogs often start jumping in an effort to get to our hands. We recognize now that we often inadvertently reward the jumping by giving the dog the interaction it is looking for. We love to show our dog affection, and that interaction is an important part of a healthy, happy relationship with them. However, that affection seems to be the cause behind the jumping that has become such a problem! It seems unfair that something that both the dog and we enjoy so much can be causing a behavior that has to stop. Ahhh! How can we have our cake and eat it too?
Actually, there is no reason that we can’t have it both ways! It is very possible to have the interaction as well as a good mannered dog that does not jump on everyone. In fact, the interaction is the key ingredient to stop the jumping.
Theory of Shaping Behaviors
If we break things down and consider PARR (see PARR video in the theory section of the Adult Dog or Puppy Basics Courses) we will see how to create the change.
P – Pressure – a desire for interaction
A – Action – Jumping
R – Release – Touch of your hand (positive marker)
R – Reward – Interaction/attention
All we have to do is replace the undesirable action with a desirable action. For instance, our dog jumps up on our leg. We step forward to claim the space where the dog is standing. This will cause the dog to get off our leg. When all four feet are on the ground we use the positive marker of the touch of our hand. Soon the dog will look for affection with all four feet on the ground.
Another option might be to take the dog by the collar and lightly lift up and back. Because we already taught the dog that this means to sit in our Foundational Course, the dog will sit down. As the dog sinks into the sitting position, release the collar. When you are no longer touching the dog, use a positive verbal marker, such as “yes” and then give the dog the attention it wants. Soon the dog will learn to ask for affection by sitting.
A Real World Example
Now, here’s how to have your cake and eat it too! I had a customer a while back who loved to have her small dog on her lap. This was only a problem because the dog thought that it could jump on anyone’s lap to receive attention. She remedied this situation by denying the dog from getting on her lap and asking it to sit. When the dog was sitting, then she would invite the dog to get on her lap. Soon the dog began to volunteer to sit when it wanted to get on her lap. By inviting the dog to get on her lap when it asked by sitting, and by denying the dog to get on her lap when it didn’t ask first by sitting, she changed the dog’s perception of how to get attention. As a result the dog began sitting to ask for permission from her and her visitors.
Our dogs are always working to communicate and get the things they want. They choose an action and when it works, they repeat that action. The key to shaping our dog’s behavior is to guide them to the actions we desire and then give them the things they desire. This is precisely what I’m talking about when I say to “make their dreams come true.” Their desires are the key to their behavior, and by understanding these desires we can help coach the behaviors that we want.