Jumping GSD

by Natalie

Hi there,

My sister-in-law, Laura, has a purebred female GSD, Eva, who is just a little over one year old. Eva is very intelligent, loving dog, but has some behavioural issues. The one that is most distressing to those around her is her tendency to jump.

We've tried every technique we can think of. Ignoring, as is recommended on your site, worked for Laura when Eva was younger (and smaller), but does not work for anyone else in the family now that she's a full-grown dog. Eva has developed the bad habit of jumping on you from behind now if you ignore her. She even pulls hair and nips now.

We know it all stems from a dominance issue; Eva has an extremely strong ball drive, and is telling us, who she sees as below her in the pack, that she wants us to play. The pack basically goes: Laura, Eva, Maggie and Annie (the other two dogs), and then everyone else.

Is there anything you can recommend? We've tried ignoring, bringing up our knees, doing the "Cha-cha" (holding paws and walking her a step or two back), and clicker training with rewards when she has four on the floor. We've gotten desperate enough to try "nipping" her chest with our fingers when she jumps, and stepping on her back toes, but even these techniques do not work with her, despite working with other dogs in the past.

It was suggested that my in-laws try putting her on a leash, and when someone comes in the door to put the leash under their feet so she can't possibly jump. There are two problems with this: 1) Eva doesn't just jump when people come in, and 2) there are two other extra-large dogs that will drag her around by her neck if a leash is attached at all times.

To make matters worse, her jumping was rewarded when she was a puppy by certain members of the family, because they thought it was cute. They even tried to differentiate between good jumping and bad jumping, the first being when Eva was asked to come "up," and the latter was the rest of the time. I'm sure it confused her to no end. Any help or extra references would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much for your time. Kind regards, Natalie

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Feb 20, 2010
Jumping is NOT Dominance
by: BeSmarter

I agree with Wendy's advice and think you guys just need to stick with it longer, and try the clicker again: calmly ignore and avert all attempts to jump, but the moment all feet land on the floor, click and treat. The faster she gets all four feet down, the more treats. When she eventually does it super-fast, reward with a jackpot handful of treats. Eventually progress to clicking and treating for sitting, but make it easy for her to get the idea and be rewarded at first.

You might want to start with just a couple of friends who totally understand the concept, and put away the other two dogs while training: minimizing distractions in the learning phase!

You also need to understand that jumping has nothing to do with dominance. Even if you just had to put it in that perspective, jumping up is the opposite of asserting dominance: dogs jump to try to get to our "muzzles", which is how lower ranking members of a pack greet their leaders: licking their muzzles. Punishing this behavior is profoundly confusing to a dog who is trying to show you respect (and just learned yet to do it in a human-appropriate way). So to be rebuffed, especially in a painful way like pinching, kneeing or having her toes stepped on is really demoralizing. Your dog sunds very resilient, but nevertheless, she is being wronged here. Your responsibility is to TEACH her how you'd like her to greet people, not punish her for doing a totally dog-normal and in fact respectful thing. (And keep in mind teaching this will take longer given how much practice she's had doing it her way -- you have to hang tough and persevere!)

And in general, the whole dominance theory as it has been applied to pet dogs has almost completely been refuted by current research -- it is just wrong and doesn't even apply to wolf packs never mind domesticated dogs. The original theories were mistaken interpretations, and there's endless info to be had on this -- try Google if interested. I know Cesar Millan still teaches it, but what he actually does, because he is a profoundly gifted dog handler (and more unwaveringly calm than most mortals can ever hope to duplicate) is very very different from how most people interpret and inflict dominance-theory on pet dogs. Just forget that whole idea and try to see yourself as your dog's teacher or at least Benevolent Leader (more Dalai Lama; less marine sergeant). Your job is to TEACH (not force, punish, or intimidate) your dog to do the behaviors you want. An excellent source of more on this is Dr. Temple Grandin's book, "Animals Make Us Human", available everywhere, including your local library.

Feb 06, 2010
jumping up
by: wendy

Poor Laura & Eva. As you pointed out consistency with everyone is vital in training. GSD's are only too happy to be the leader if they think they can get away with it.

When you turn your back on her it is important to keep your eye on her. When she jumps, step aside. Say nothing. Keep doing this & eventually the lack of attention should cause her to stop & hopefully sit. As soon as she sits, reward.

A sitting dog can not jump! You want the dog to choose to sit for attention rather than jump. If it is ball chasing she wants, then when she sits, praise and throw the ball. As she is older, it will take more time to establish a new association. EVERYONE must do the same thing, ALL the time.

If after you have tried this for at LEAST a month, then look for a good trainer to help you. Make sure they use positive methods...no hitting or leash jerks or alpha rolls or scruff shakes.

Nov 09, 2009
jumping German Shepherd options
by: Debbie

I have 2 suggestions to try since Eva seems to be a little more stubborn. I'm not a trainer by any means but I would suggest finding a good dog trainer in your area to address this problem before it gets even worse - ask your vet for suggestions of dog trainers to start.

Secondly, there are "no-jump" harnesses on the market that you can try but the behavior needs to be addressed before it will stop that is why I would invest my time, money and energy in a good trainer or dog training class. Good luck,

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