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Jumping Bean Labrador Retriever

Hello John,

Two weeks ago I took in a 8 month old lab. I don’t have a lot of history on her but am trying to get more. All that I know is that she came from a home where the couple was splitting up due to marital issues. She is house broken and crate trained.  She is good with both my kids who are 12 and 6. She listens to my husband as well. She is having issues with me and I don’t know why. She jumps on my back when I come through the door.  This is confusing because most dogs if they jump jump on your front.  She also wont go in her crate if I tell her. I have to drag her in. Can you help me figure out what to do? – Aznii

Dear Aznii,

If she was jumping on you from the front, it might be just a hello but from the back more likely it’s her reminder that she’s the new lady of your household. The lady of her last household may have laid some ground work that made your dog think women in general are ineffectual as handlers. Or you’re sending out signals to her that you believe are clear but she perceives as mixed and so she’s giving you a little doggy disrespect which if you don’t get on, is going to get worse. The kids may not be on her radar yet as competition. You’re situation is not unique. As a rule dog’s usually give women a harder time then they do men but overall of the two genders I believe women ultimately have the potential to be the better dog handlers. They usually just need a little tweaking in how they respond to a dog’s disrespectful attitude.

A woman’s strength is her ability to see the inkling of a behaviour beginning. Men are bad at that. Women usually see social details that are lost on men. For example, a man and woman returning from a party might have this conversation, the woman says, “Did you see the way that Sally and Dick were looking at each other?” The man responds, “Were they there?” (Men, you know it’s the truth. If you don’t just poll a cross section of women.) On the other hand, we may not catch things as quickly, but the way we’re wired, we characteristically send the message with canine clarity, “Don’t do that again!” and the dog responds, “I don’t know what he just said, but man, he really looks ticked. Okay, jumping on him is definitely off the list.”

In spite of their powers of observation, women often respond to a dog’s misbehavior in a way that often gets her into dog training trouble. If the dog thinks that the woman is saying, “I’m really uncomfortable with the way our relationship is heading and I’d really like to work this out with you. I just know if we work together we can make this work. . . . ,” with most dogs she’s doomed. The dog is going to respond, “I thought things were going great!” In this case, you’re just going to have to tell the dog, “Like it or not, we’re going to counseling” and in this case that counseling comes in the form of enrolling in a good balanced training program. Balanced means, you’ll learn how to reward AND fairly discipline her. Also, I’ve found that if a dog can use their body to win, they will. She’s not likely going to listen to anyone she thinks can’t even catch her, so in your home leave her leash on so she can’t use her speed, strength or agility. Outside use a longer one. Also, look for opportunities to apply what your marriage counselor, I mean dog trainer advises. Don’t wait for her to do the naughty things. Set her up to do them. Once you learn how to properly respond things will straighten out in a day or two. If not give me a call.

– John Wade the Dog Trainer 

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