Friday, February 11, 2011

Sit For Greeting

Have a dog that jumps up on everyone he/she meets? Learn how to teach a sit for greeting.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is: has my dog been reinforced for jumping up? Do you pat your dog when he/she jumps up? Do other people? Do you push your dog off of you and reprimand? Have you used your knees or legs to kick him/her? Have other people?

What you need to know about reinforcement is that good or bad reinforcement can encourage a behaviour. So it doesn't matter whether I'm petting my dog for jumping up or pushing him/her off of me. My dog is still being reinforced for jumping.  Makes things harder doesn't it?

Alright here's a few steps to get you on the right track and remember practice makes perfect!

Step #1 - teach your dog to sit on voice command or hand signal but without touching your dog. It's crucial that you have this basic obedience command down pat.

Step #2 - begin to practice sit around more and more distractions. Ask for sit and then as soon as that butt hits the floor reward. Practice this at doorways, on walks, in the park, around friends, etc.

Step #3 - when you come home from being out don't make eye contact or speak to your dog until he/she sits (without a command). As soon as your best friend is sitting then shower with praise, toy, pets, food, etc. If he/she jumps go back to ignoring. For those really high energy dogs keep your vocal praise low key so you don't trigger the jumping up again from excitement.

Step #4 - start to add friends/family to training session. Have your dog take a sit position before the person even becomes visible. Reinforce continually to keep your dog sitting (meaning giving a kibble or treat every few seconds). As long as the dog is sitting the person can come closer. If the dog gets up then the person immediately needs to back up and leave.  You then start again. Eventually the person will be standing beside the dog while the dog is sitting. You can then have your friend/family member give the dog a treat for sitting. Practice until this is easy.

Step #5 - slowly fade out the food reward until you can do this without food. Meaning over the course of several training sessions use less and less food. If the dog regresses then go back to the basics.

Step #6 - begin to ask your dog for a sit whenever a person comes into view. Over time your dog will learn that he/she is expected to sit when greeting a human. Once your dog is reliable on leash then move to practicing off leash.

If your dog does jump on someone unexpected have the person become a "tree" and if they need to they can turn around so their back is to the dog. This works great for kids. 

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