Teaching Hope to Respect and Listen to Her Owner

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 12, 2014

HopeHope a two-year-old female yellow lab. She was recently adopted and her new owner called me to help her learn to stop jumping up on people and listen better.

When I arrived for the session, Hope met me at the door with a medium energy. Knowing that she was prone to jump up on people, I used my own technique to communicate that I wasn’t gong to let her claim me by jumping up on me. As usual, it worked immediately. I could tell as she bounded up as soon as I finished, but she did not make contact with me as she jumped up.  If her owner practices it for the next week or two, Hope’s days of jumping on guests to greet them will quickly be a thing of the past.

When I sat down with her owner to discuss the situation, Hope showed little to no respect for my personal space, quasi violating me with her sniff-inspection.  To communicate I wanted her to respect my space, I stood up each time she approached to disagree with the behavior. It took eight or nine times, but Hope eventually got it and sat down a foot away from me. But the success was short lived as the dog proceeded to do the same too her owner.

I instructed her owner to disagree the same way. It took several more corrections, but she did start showing her respect for her personal space. I suggested a few small changes to help the dog learn to respect her owner’s personal space and establish boundaries. While we can always restrain a dog with a leash, kennel, etc, the best scenario is when the dog restrains itself.

To that end I demonstrated a leadership exercise to teach Hope to self restrain and also see her owner as her pack leader. I have done this exercise thousands of times but Hope’s reaction to it was unique. The goal of the exercise is for the dog to communicate its surrendering to his human’s command by lying down. But each time I started the exercise, Hope laid down and belly crawled around. While it was funny to watch, it was negating the point of the exercise. Luckily I was able to come up with an adjustment that worked great.

After I mastered the exercise with Hope, her owner did the same. I suggested she practice this exercise daily for the next two to three weeks until Hope has it down cold. Once its second nature to the dog, the auxiliary behavior benefits will take hold which will end Hopes jumping up.

Her owner mentioned that Hope refused to sit still while she used a comb to remove her shedding hair so we worked on that. I showed her owner how to communicate to Hope that there was nothing wrong or to be avoided. A few minutes later, Hope was sitting calmly as her owner gave her a thorough brushing. By repeating this technique each time, the brushing ritual will be something Hope doesn’t question at all.

By the end of the session Hope was responding to her owner’s commands consistently, faster and was showing more respect for her space and authority. The leadership exercises and new methods of communicating and disagreeing with Hope’s unwanted behavior should eliminate the jumping up and help her learn to stay in a calm, relaxed frame of mind al the time.


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This post was written by: David Codr

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