Why does my dog do that?
Like many dog owners, we frequently wonder why our dogs do what they do! Dog trainer and author Tony Cruse has selected 101 of the questions he’s most frequently asked and offers simple explanations and practical solutions in his new book.
For the answers to why your dog jumps up at people, why he pulls on the lead and why your puppy is nipping your children, read extracts from the book below.
1. Why does my dog jump up?
This can be a nightmare – you walk in the door and before you know it you’ve got paw prints all over you. On a more serious note, a larger dog can knock people completely over, and cause fear in friends and visitors, and especially children.
Dogs greet other dogs at face level; it’s their way of introducing themselves, so they naturally want to do this with us too. Also, jumping up can be a sign of anxiety and the dog seeking approval or reassurance. If the dog could speak he would probably be saying “hello…hello…hello” or “sorry…sorry…sorry”. So to physically punish this would be very wrong.
Quick Tips to resolve the problem
Have some of your dog’s favourite treats to hand. Before he jumps up drop one on the floor and repeat each time before he attempts to jump. This is teaching that good things happen when ‘four paws are on the floor’! However, if he does jump up, turn to the side, quietly look away (no voice, no eye contact), and wait for the four paws on the floor to drop the treat again. You may find that eventually your dog chooses to sit rather than jump…That is worthy of a food reward also! And if he hasn’t jumped up for a while, you can go down to his level and fuss him on the floor, if you wish.
For visitors – you can be in control of the treats and drop them to the floor, which will keep his focus downwards. In future, he’ll be looking down (for treats) rather than up.
You can regularly rehearse this with a friend. At first you may want to keep your dog on a lead, so your friend can safely move away should your dog jump up. This has to be consistent with everyone he meets.
Chirag Patel shows you how to put this into practice
More videos on teaching your puppy or older dog not to jump up »
2. Why does my dog pull on the lead?
Being dragged down the road by your pet dog is no fun, and can be dangerous. Even small dogs can really pull and potentially cause accidents, leaving you feeling like you’re being taken for a walk. Does your dog even know you are at the end of the lead? Walking a dog should be a joint activity!
Dogs naturally walk faster than we do, and want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Your dog may find something super exciting, such as a lamppost, or another dog, and be desperate to get to it – almost at any cost, and without being aware that you are even there. So it can be the pull of an attraction and the fact that your walking pace doesn’t quite match your dog’s walking pace.
Walk your dog before meals and take some of his dinner out with you. You can then feed him, on the move. When the lead is slack, he gets a snack! If the lead goes tight, simply stop with both hands on the end of the lead. Wait it out until the lead goes slack again, continue on, and feed on the go. Keep repeating, until he learns that when he’s near you with a slack lead, he gets a treat (this will help you gain focus).
The consequence for pulling is that it will take him longer to get where he wants to go. Therefore, walking with a loose lead gets him a treat and gets him to the park sooner.
Watch Zak George teach a puppy to walk nicely on the lead
3. Why does my puppy nip my children?
This is particularly common with puppies. Lots of kids love playing with puppies but don’t really understand how puppies think.
No surprise, children can be shocked and upset if they are nipped. This can lead to a long-term fear of dogs, and is even more worrying if it’s someone else’s kids.
This conduct is common, quite natural but not appropriate. A young dog explores the world using his mouth. During the height of excitement, the line between the toy and the child playing often blurs – sometimes this is accidental, and sometimes the puppy has learned it gets a reaction and attention. Any attention (such as a reprimand) can be seen as rewarding to a puppy. Therefore, he is more likely to repeat it. As far as the puppy is concerned it may even add to the game.
As soon as teeth make contact with skin – whether accidental or to get a reaction – then end the game immediately. Remove the toy for at least one minute. Then decide if you want to resume the game or to separate the child and the puppy if he is still overexcited.
Never reprimand the puppy or physically chastise him. He doesn’t know; he hasn’t learned right from wrong yet. Your job is to teach him.
Alternatively, if the puppy nips the child when there is no toy present, you can re-direct the puppy away from the child and on to a toy. The puppy needs to learn that nipping toys is the best and more fun choice.
For safer management you could have your puppy wear a house line (a long light lead) during playtime. If you are at all concerned, you can guide your puppy away easily.
This is a very comprehensive video from trainer Emily Larlham on the subject of puppy biting
101 Doggy Dilemmas by Tony Cruse
is available from Amazon