Jumping and scratching the door are common behavioral problems among dogs. Fortunately, you can use similar corrective techniques for both to ensure that your dog has a calm, happy life—and that you do too.
Identify the triggers for jumping up. Your dog will jump up when excited, or to “greet” you. Although cute, this isn’t appropriate.
Hide a treat or toy in your pocket. Manufacture a situation in which your dog is likely to jump. For example, leave the house for five minutes, then come back in.
Drop the treat to the floor and say, “Down.” Do this before he has chance to jump. This way, you’re preventing, rather than curing the problem. The treat diverts his attention from you to the floor, so you reinforce the action of looking downward, the opposite of what he does when jumping.
Turn your back on your dog when he jumps. By turning your back, you demonstrate that jumping up results in being denied attention.
Repeat this process approximately five times in a 20-minute period. He’ll learn to anticipate the treat and will focus on the floor rather than you. As soon as he shows signs of not wanting to jump, issue verbal praise such as “Good boy.”
Repeat the 20-minute training sessions daily until you can use the “Down” command without the treat.
Scratching the Door
Observe your dog’s toilet routine. Typically, dogs whine and circle when they need to go, but will scratch the door if desperate. Prevent this by ensuring that he always has access to his toilet area after waking, eating and drinking.
Note down other causes for scratching. Aside from needing the toilet, dogs typically scratch due to fear of being separated from the family, or as he sees it, his “pack.”
Create a scenario likely to elicit door-scratching, for example by shutting him in a room. Have a friend or family member shut the door so you are in the room with him and can correct the scratching.
Look out for signs that he’s about to scratch. These include sniffing at the door and circling. It’s easier to encourage an alternate behavior, in this case looking at you, than it is to retrospectively correct an undesired behavior.
Distract the dog by calling his name as soon as he raises his paw. When he diverts his attention to you, issue a food treat and verbal praise. If he ignores the distraction, gently move him away from the door and say, “No.”
Repeat the process until you can distract the dog.
Put the dog in the room on his own. Sit on the other side of the door. Wait for 20 to 30 seconds. If you hear him scratch, ignore him. Wait another 30 seconds. As soon he gives you 30 seconds of abstinence from scratching, open the door, give him a treat and lavish him with praise. This teaches him that scratching prolongs his separation from you, while not scratching results in praise, treats and your presence.
Items you will need
- Food treats
- If your dog is a persistent and enthusiastic jumper, leash him before entering the house. This way you can physically divert his attention away from you and to the floor by stepping on or taking hold of the leash.
- child with dog image by Miguel Montero from Fotolia.com