Kangaroo Dogs: When dogs jump up!

Kangaroo Dogs!!!! Jump! Jump! Jump!

We all know about them; we’ve probably met them, those four-footed friends of the canine variety that greet us enthusiastically with front paws on our best clothes.  It’s not too bad if those paws are small, aren’t muddy, and those nails are short but, let’s face it; it’s much better for your clothes and much less embarrassing for the dog owner if all four paws are kept on the ground.

So, for all you embarrassed dog owners out there, here are some tips to help with your Kangaroo Dog.

 Set up a Sting Operation!

First, stock your pockets with tasty treats.  Next, encourage your dog to jump up on you.  Do whatever it takes to get those front paws up off the floor.  As soon as those paws leave the floor, say firmly those words you would normally use to stop behaviour of your dog.  It could be something like, “Ack! Ack!” or “No!” or “Off!!”  Turn sideways away from your dog and stand perfectly still while keeping a weather eye on his antics.  At some point, he will stop jumping and, as soon as those front paws are on the floor again, reward with a “Good Dog!” and give a treat from your pocket.  If your dog wants to help you deliver the treat by jumping up again, wait until his feet are back on the floor to reward.  Then, encourage him to jump again doing whatever it takes like slapping your legs or clapping your hands and as his feet leave the floor, repeat the “Ack! Ack!” or whatever words you have chosen.  Turn away while watching and reward for feet on the floor.  Repeat the exercise many times.  You’ll find that it won’t take very long before your dog figures out that the only way to get treats is to keep his feet on the floor.  Reward lavishly this new behaviour.

Repeat the entire exercise at a later time the same day.  You’ll note that he will have a period of “forgetfulness” at first, but will quickly catch on to the game.  Change locations for the next set of exercises then change people for new exercises.

Do this several times over a period of days with as many different people as you can find.  When you’re 80% to 90% successful in “no jump” the first time, it’s time to take the exercise on the road.  Go outdoors and start anew.  Once again your dog will have a period of “forgetfulness” but soon you’ll find him happily with all four paws on the ground meeting new people on the street.  Remember to reward his wonderful new manners with treats from your pocket.  After many sessions outside, begin using “Good Dog!” alone, gradually eliminating the treats.

Now your dog has learned a new behaviour for greeting people, but like any other behaviour, it can begin to slide if not practiced.  As well, new and different excitements may occur simultaneously with greeting someone and your dog may relapse into what is hard-wired in his system.  Practice and patience and consistent expectations are what will serve you best in the long run.

Happy training your Kangaroo Dog!

Lynn Hyndman