Christine from Oh My Shih Tzu had a family emergency come up so she won’t be able to post for today’s hop. I talked with her earlier and all is well and she looks forward to posting in next week’s hop!
I distinctly remember the first two times that Kayo’s jumps indicated to me that she was a serious jumper—and that I needed to have some control over it. The first time she walked out of the house ahead of me and my neighbor’s 4-year-old daughter happened to standing on the porch. Kayo jumped up on her before I could get outside. The little girl fell, was stunned but thankfully OK. The second time, my friend came over who’s a well-known actress. Kayo was 6 months old and it was their first time meeting. In her excitement, she jumped so high that her back legs kicked my friend in the face—yes, my friend whose face is worth lots of money. Oh, and she’s 5’8″.
After those incidences, I knew teaching Kayo to jump on cue would be important. I’d also heard about one trainer’s philosophy that says that when you teach one command or trick, it’s important to teach the opposite. He calls it the yin and yang of dog training. I use “up” for the jump command and “off” for its opposite.
Most dogs love to jump. Kayo fell into the category of dogs that do, so teaching her to jump on cue was easy. Without much work she learned that jumping up was only acceptable when it was on cue. She does get me sometimes when I’m not paying attention, like earlier today when she decided to give me her version of a kiss to let me know just how excited she was. Fun for her, slightly painful for me!
In the beginning I didn’t give Kayo praise for jumping up because the jump was reward in and of itself. Down the road when I started with “urban agility”—using everyday stationary objects to engage our dogs in doing tricks—I began to reward her for jumping up onto something. These exercises became essential in helping build Kayo’s confidence, especially while we went through our behavior modification program for her aggression. At our nearby Jack London Square, there are statues of wolves and other characters that Kayo was afraid of. I worked with her to build her confidence around the statues to the point where she wouldn’t try to avoid them when we were near. Once we got to that point, I had her jump up onto one of the statues where she stood so proudly. The image alone of Kayo standing on the statue she was afraid to walk near was empowering to me and the act of doing it emboldened her.
There were once so many objects that Kayo was fearful of but I can’t even remember the last thing she was afraid of. Jumping up onto things has become one of our favorite activities. It gives Kayo the release she needs since she loves to jump while building her confidence and reinforcing that jumping is a reward that I control the timing of.
The idea of putting on cue behaviors that your dog takes pleasure in that might not be appropriate at all times is a wonderful one. I encourage all dog owners to consider this for certain behaviors, like jumping or barking. It’s always a good idea to work with a dog trainer to understand the reasons for the behavior and how to address them appropriately. Barking is another behavior that I’d like to put on cue so I will be working on that in the coming weeks and reporting our progress.
Which of your dog’s behaviors have you put on cue or would you like to put on cue? What has your experience been?
This post is part of the Thursday Training Blog Hop with our co-sponsor Oh My Shih Tzu. Join us here every Thursday for training tales and tips.