I walk my dog through our community of 100+ homes, many of which have children under 12. My dog is big and shaggy and lovable, and kids always want to pat him. The problem is that he jumps on kids. I don’t want to scare them or hurt them (liability is an issue here, too). I’m working with Peabody on training him not to jump on people, but in the mean time, is there a tactful way to warn kids that he jumps?
R.H., Salt Lake City, UT
I’m glad you’re getting the jumping under control. Those of us who allowed our large-breed pups to jump on us when they were little often find it more difficult to deal with this problem when they’re not so little. The fastest way to deal with a dog who jumps on people is to involve a professional trainer. Then, anytime you run into someone during a walk, consider it a training opportunity. Be prepared to spend some time working on this issue with your dog in the beginning. As he realizes that jumping is not acceptable, you’ll have fewer instances of it and will be able to cover more ground on your walks.
Meanwhile, here’s an idea that may help you. Involve the kids in Peabody’s retraining. As children approach you, say something like, “I wonder if you would help me train my dog not to jump on people.” Almost any child will eagerly agree. Any who are afraid of dogs will likely back off. Ask the children to stand with their hands at their sides until Peabody is in a proper sit before they pet him. Make it a game. Their positive reinforcement is good for the dog. You’re also 1) warning the kids that he jumps and 2) teaching them a little bit about dog behavior and training. You might even consider getting Peabody a vest or t-shirt that says “dog in training” to help communicate to people that it’s not helpful for them to rush up to him and pat him.
A dog who is otherwise well-behaved should be able to break this habit in a couple of weeks at the most … if you have the help of a professional trainer.
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