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Jumping Up On People – Labrador Retriever

Overly Enthusiastic Jumping Dog

Hi John,

My 4 year old lab is very intelligent and learned the basic commands when he was 10 weeks old. He goes ballistic and gets overly excited when anyone tries to give him attention. He has been this way since he was 7 weeks old. He’s fine walking by everyone as long as they ignore him but looses it when they get too close. My corrections don’t stop him. I feel bad for him and am at a loss as to what to do. Hoping you can help. He loves everyone but comes on too strong. Thanks for your time.

Ray – Welland

Hi Ray,

Sort of a good problem to have but I do understand practically speaking it can be a bit difficult to have a large dog on a leash that turns into a huge kite in a high wind every time someone looks like they have to potential to send him a little loving.

I’m not sure how you’ve approached his training (jumping up and otherwise) up to this point so I don’t know what you mean by “corrections” but typically when a dog isn’t responding to training what ever the approach it generally means one or more of the following three things (assuming he truly does know what you mean by keeping the leash loose (heel) which if he’s doing he can’t be jumping up.)

  1. In spite of the owner’s belief – the dog doesn’t really see them as being the teacher and themselves as the student.
  2. In the scenario they are struggling (jumping) with they may think they have the dog’s attention when they’re trying to “correct or reward” but they really don’t.
  3. They’re trying to get the dog to do something (stop jumping) with a distraction context that is too advanced and need to back up a step or two.

Outside of jumping scenarios, I’d start by making sure your dog knows how to keep that leash loose around less challenging (but still challenging) scenarios. If not – go back to basics. Then I would start to train around lesser distractions and when 3 consecutive days went by without my being blown off by the dog I would introduce the “Crazy Uncle Bob” level. Crazy Uncle Bob is the guy that comes over and winds your kids up and then goes home. In this case he or she is the guy trying to get the dog to do the jumping up. However I would do this as a set up and put some distance between the dog and the person playing “Crazy Uncle Bob” decreasing that distance gradually. It might happen day one but I doubt it. It might take a few days to get there. If my rewarding good behaviour and correcting poor behavior isn’t resulting in the light bulb going off in the dog’s head I’d go over that check list of 3 I mentioned above.

I don’t mind corrections as part of dog training but I’m not a fan of leash corrections as a primary means to do so. I think the leash and collar should be used to maintain physical control of the situation if for no other reason than safety and as a means to get a dog’s attention but the correction and reward should come through the person’s relationship via their tone and body language. When corrections are physical it generally means one of those things I mentioned above is askew. While it’s true some trainers justify physical corrections because mother dogs are not above it, it’s not something mother dogs do very frequently. Certainly not anywhere near as frequently as some trainer do so.

Hope that helps with your jumping problem. If not try reading my e-book.

Difficult to Control Dog? – Try the WadeCollar

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