Pet Connection

Sit, Don’t Jump

Teaching a new pup not to jump up is easy and smart

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

If you have a new puppy, you are probably enjoying the enthusiastic kisses that come when your canine friend jumps up on you in greeting. Few things are as endearing as a puppy welcome when you come home from a long day at work. It’s like getting a hug from someone you love -- which, of course, you are.

But what’s endearing in a puppy can become annoying or even dangerous when the pup has doubled or tripled in size. In some breeds, that growth can occur in a period of weeks. A dog who hasn’t learned not to jump up on people can easily knock over an unsteady toddler or senior citizen, or make a mess of the expensive new outfit you just bought.

Dogs who jump up on people are seeking attention, but not in a good way. Well, it’s not good for us when they snag our clothes or scratch our skin. But for dogs, jumping up for attention almost always works. Often, we respond with a laugh because it seems like cute behavior. It’s all too easy to encourage jumping up from small puppies or dogs by scooping them up for love and kisses. Even if we scold, our dog has achieved her objective: attention from her favorite person.

Instead of having to “unteach” this rambunctious behavior when your puppy is older and larger, begin on Day 1 by substituting a more acceptable greeting behavior. Show your puppy that sitting gets attention and rewards, while jumping up doesn’t.

Teaching “sit” is easy. Grab a handful of small, stinky treats. Hold one in front of your pup’s nose, and slowly move your hand upward. His nose will follow, and his rear will naturally move into a sit position. Say “yes,” so he knows you like what he did, and give a treat or praise ("Good sit!"). Practice this for a couple of minutes several times a day, and gradually add the word “sit” so he has a name for the action.

Once your puppy knows the cue “sit,” use it any time he is likely to jump up, such as greeting you when you come home, greeting other people at the door or watching you prepare his food (or yours). Ask him to sit while you put on his leash for a walk or at the corner before you cross the street. Sit is a good cue to practice anywhere -- in different rooms of your home, at the veterinary clinic, at an outdoor table at your local coffee shop or any time a person is approaching.

As you teach your puppy to sit for attention, turn your back on any attempts to jump up. Literally. Don’t yell “no” -- don’t say anything -- and don’t look at him. Removing your attention, including verbal communication and eye contact, sends the message that there’s no reward for jumping up. Give attention, praise and rewards only when he has all four paws on the ground.

Teach friends and family members to use this technique as well. Everyone should know how to respond so that they don’t inadvertently reinforce unwanted behavior. If strangers seem willing to let your dog jump on them, explain that you’re training him, and you’d appreciate their help. When you can get everyone to cooperate, your dog will learn quickly to offer a sit for attention.

All puppies need to learn self-control, and teaching them to sit instead of jumping up helps provide this training. Even better, everyone who meets your dog will be impressed by a puppy who greets them in a polite sit.

Q&A

Can healthy cat

eat medical diet?

Q: I've had two senior cats who eat a dry renal diet prescribed by their veterinarian. I'm a flight attendant, so the food is available for them all the time, plus I have a big water fountain. Recently, one of them died, and I'd like to get the other a younger companion. But how would I separate the food? Is it bad for the younger cat to have a renal diet, supplemented with regular wet food when I am home? -- via email

A: I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It’s never easy to say goodbye.

Regarding your question, your veterinarian is the best person to advise you about whether your proposed feeding plan will be all right for a new cat.

You could also ask about a new product I saw recently at the VMX veterinary conference in Orlando. The PortionPro RX, available only from veterinarians, ensures that each pet in a household receives only his designated amount and type of food. Eric Schreiber at Vet Innovations says the product controls portions and access using RFID technology to pair a pet with the feeder and allow access to the food while denying access to other pets. “If they approach, the door to the feeder will close, preventing them from stealing that food,” he says. “We have a small tag that’s worn by the pets that puts out a signal, and the signal is read by the feeder as either being allowed to eat from this feeder or denied.”

I’d also like to suggest that your cat may be at an age where she prefers to live a single life. My colleague Tony Buffington, DVM, says the behavior of survivor cats often changes with the loss of a roommate, and some do not do well with newly introduced cats. -- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

Dog brain games may

prevent brain drain

-- Like humans, dogs begin to lose cognitive function with age. Playing games that stimulate their brains may help to prevent the decline, say researchers at Vienna’s Clever Dog Lab. They taught 100 border collies and 115 dogs of other breeds to use a touch screen that dispensed food, associate a particular image on the screen with a treat, receive a treat by touching their nose to a yellow dot that moved to different positions on the screen and, finally, to choose between two images that appeared on the screen. If they chose the correct one, they received a treat. It’s unknown yet if the dogs experienced neurological improvements, but owners reported that their dogs enthusiastically anticipated the weekly visits to the lab. Future studies will examine the effects of the game on the dogs’ physiological, behavioral and cognitive well-being as well as the human-animal bond.

-- The University of Illinois is using a $500,000 grant to expand the services of its shelter medicine program. The three-year grant from the Sally Lorraine Sedlak Vaughan Irrevocable Charitable Trust will help pet-owning families in need to provide their animals with vaccinations, dental care, heartworm screenings and wellness exams. Veterinary students provide the care, under supervision.

-- The Netflix series “The Crown” has brought about a resurgence in corgi popularity, reports Dianne Apen-Sadler in Britain’s Daily Mail. The long, low-slung dogs are actually two separate breeds: Pembroke (no tail) and Cardigan (long tail). Both breeds were developed in Wales, but besides the tails, they have some other differences. The Pembroke has a more foxlike face and smaller, more pointed ears, while the Cardigan is slightly larger. Both have a thick double coat that sheds heavily in spring and fall, and both are active, agile and fast, with good watchdog skills, barking a warning at anything unusual. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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