Easy Ways to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on People

Have you ever been all dressed for work, church, or special occasion only to have your dog jump on you and get your clothes all dirty, or worse, knock you down. Are you tired of having to apologize to guests as they come in when their first introduction is to your dog looking like a pogo stick as he jumps up and down on them?

There are several ways to go about fixing the dog behavior of jumping on people. You can choose one or use a combination of approaches. Whichever you choose, always remember that consistency and repetition are what make dog behavior modification work. Everyone in the family has to be on the same page with what approach you are going to use and stick with it. There is no yelling or forcefulness involved in any of this.

Dogs react as a direct result of the way we react to them.

Our dogs are very social and they get excited very easily, so when we come home, they jump up on us to greet us. So, even though we don’t like this, we, as dog owners, STILL give them some type of reinforcement. We either pet them and let them continue to jump and lick because we love our dogs! OR, we yell at them, push them off, tell them they’re bad—pick one.

Next time this happens make sure you are aware of the way you interact with your jumping dog. Learn what reinforces the behavior of jumping. Whether you are petting or yelling at your dog when they jump on you, you ARE giving that behavior attention, which reinforces the behavior. If you continue to pet or yell or whatever at your dog, the behavior will continue because you are reinforcing it. Think about it like a child having a temper tantrum.

  • Do NOT give the behavior any attention. When you come home, simply come in the door, walk past your dog, put your things down and the dog gets absolutely no attention till the jumping stops. Then and only then can you pet the dog, BUT you still must not make a big production of it as your excitement will then have the dog jumping again. If that happens, again no attention. Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • When your dog jumps up, immediately turn your back on the dog and pay no attention to the dog. Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Attach a leash to your dog and have your dog in front of you with YOUR foot on the leash high enough on the leash so that when he attempts to jump he can barely get his front paws off the ground. Talk excitedly to your dog (do NOT call his name), get him excited so he will jump. When he tries to jump, your foot on the leash prevents him from jumping and the dog self corrects.
  • Train your dog to sit, request a sit when guests come over. If you can get a good reliable sit stay, your dog can not jump when in a sit stay.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


My Dog Whines – Why and How Do I Stop It

Does your dog whine? Irritating isn’t it. But before you loose your patience, you need to make an evaluation of why your dog is whining. Is there something wrong? Does he need something like– to go out to the bathroom? Or, is he demanding something, like your attention?

Since our dogs can’t talk, their only forms of communication are barking and whining. When a dog consistently whines, the very first thing to check for are any medical issues. If your dog is in some type of pain, his way to deal with it is to whine. Especially if you have an older dog, arthritis can be very painful and the dog’s only way of telling you it’s in pain is to whine.

Fear can be another reason dog’s whine. If they are in a situation that is causing them to be afraid, again the way they can communicate that is to whine. If you placate those feelings by saying something such as: it’s ok, and pet, pet, pet you are actually reinforcing the dog’s belief that he should be afraid. Instead, use your leadership role, using your calm energy to signal the dog that you have everything under control and he has no need to be afraid. Distract with a jolly routine.

Boredom is another reason dog’s whine. Dog’s are intelligent creatures and their intellect must be properly stimulated with exercise and training. Dogs need a job to do. Their job can be anything from working on basic obedience a few times a day, to tracking, to walking with you appropriately on a leash for a nice walk.

Demanding attention and being bossy are also reasons dogs will whine. If this is the cause of your dog’s whining, you again, must use your good dog parenting skills and leadership to let the dog know that whining does not get him what he wants. You can choose to ignore the dog and see if the whining stops. Once the whining stops you must IMMEDIATELY tell the dog he’s done a good thing by saying something as simple as Good Quiet!

If ignoring the dog doesn’t work, you may have to resort to the handy squirt bottle that has water in it. When the dog whines, say something like –ack ack, no –and squirt immediately in the face (short squirt) do not squirt in the eyes. The second the dog stops whining, be sure to praise excitedly.

Again, if training begins the moment your bring your dog or puppy home and good leadership is put into place, the dog will be less inclined to be bossy and try to run the show. Obedience training, coupled with understanding what your dog needs to be balanced, is so much easier to incorporate than to wait until you have learned behavior from your dog that you dislike.

Remember, train, be consistent and train again.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!


Training Your Dog to Sit

You can train your dog to sit relatively easily. The sit command is one of the best commands to master with your dog as it can be used to solve a lot of minor behavior issues with your dog. If your dog is trained to give you a sit, when he is sitting he is then unable to do inappropriate behaviors such as jumping.

Training your dog to sit is also the easiest command to teach as you progress on your path to a well trained dog. Always remember, that training should be fun, relaxed and rewarding for both you and your dog.

Here’s what you need to do to train your dog to sit:

  • You will need your dog to be on a collar and a leash
  • You will need some high value soft food treats such as cut up hot dogs or bits of cheese.
  • You might want to take your dog for a walk prior to training so he has had time to release any pent up energy and will be in a better state of mind to listen to you.
  • Choose an area to train your dog that does not have a lot of distractions. Your den or living room is good to begin with. You would not want to try to train your dog to sit in the middle of the dog park.
  • Have your dog in a standing position by your side, left or right side of you is not important. Whatever side you walk your dog on is the side you should use to train.
  • Have the collar turned so that the leash is coming up from the top of the dog’s neck.
  • Have the high value food treat in the hand not holding the leash.
  • Say your dog’s name and take your hand with the food treat in it, let him see it and he will smell it if you’ve used a really good treat.
  • Take the treat in your hand and hold your hand over your dog’s head so that his nose goes up as he watches the treat go back towards the middle/back of his head.
  • Watch as his butt will hit the ground as his head goes up.
  • The exact second his butt hits the ground, praise him with “good boy!” This is called marking the behavior, You have told him that the behavior he gave you is what you’re looking for. It is critical that your “good boy” is said the minute he completes the sit and the butt hits the ground. You only have 1.0 seconds to 1.5 seconds for the dog to understand the praise with the action he has performed.
  • NOW you may reward him with the treat.

If your dog backs up with the treat over his head instead of sitting, simply say “wrong”, reposition yourself and the dog and begin again.

Patience is the key as is repetition. Keep your training sessions brief, maximum 10 minutes. If your dog continue to display lack of interest, call it a day and start again later that day or the next day.

Here’s an important point for you. As you are practicing this, and giving your dog the yummy reward, extend the time between saying “good boy” and giving the treat. For example, at first, pretty quickly after you say “good boy” you will give the treat. As the sit becomes more dependable, don’t give the treat so quickly. Then start giving the treat only every other time, then every third time until the simple statement “good boy” is all you need to do. You do not want to be held hostage by food treats as you train your dog.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Need more help with your dog’s behavior. Visit our behavior page and sign up for current solutions that work, based on my 25 years of positive dog training.


K-9 Food Aggression and Kids Makes for a Dangerous Cocktail

Food aggression in dogs may develop if they are not properly socialized and desensitized around all family members while eating their meals. You do not want your dog biting you or other family members. Training a dog to prevent food aggression means getting your new puppy or dog used to family members being around their food bowl.  This is a simple exercise that, if started when you get your puppy or dog, could save you a lot of grief down the road because you have prevented your dog from becoming an aggressive dog.

In addition to food aggression, dogs can guard things they perceive as having high value to them such as:

·       Space: Personal space, their dog bed or your bed couch or chairs

·       Articles of play: Dog toys, kid toys or anything of yours he picks up that is laying around that he determines has high value to him at that time.

·       Love and affection: You can become a highly valued resource to your dog as well. What does that mean?  That’s the love and affection you give him which he may want to reserve for himself and not share with other 2 legged or 4 legged pack members.

In some dogs this concern needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise a growling dog could turn into a biting dog that bites a family member and it escalates from there. Not addressing this behavior could be setting the dog up for a one way trip to the vet and that is not a good outcome for anyone – especially the dog. It just makes good sense to make sure your new puppy or dog does not learn to guard his food or anything.

Why does a dog become aggressive around his food bowl? That’s a good question. There could be a number of factors. Lets take a look at possible reasons dogs develop this aggressive attitude while in possession or close to the things that fit into the above categories:

·       Not being properly desensitized to family members around him when he is eating. This should include heavy doses of feeding him from your hand, taking his food bowl up during meals and giving it back with a much yummier treat on top of his remaining food.

·       Another factor could be a complete lack of structure in the family.  Meaning that the dog is not required to earn the things in life that he really wants by simply performing sits and downs before getting the high valued thing he wants.

·       Dogs that have more leader type personalities or strong temperaments who may be in conflict with their owner as to “who’s the boss”.  This can be caused by a lack of structure as mentioned above. This type of dog personality could be more likely to control or guard their food bowl and other things than say a very submissive dog.

Don’t misunderstand; submissive dogs can also become dog food aggressive. It’s just that the more strong personality of the dog, the more likely it could aggressively guard its food bowl. I’ve also seen strong, leader type dogs aggressively guard their position on the family couch yet be perfectly fine with family members near their food bowl while they are eating. It all depends on the individual dog and influential environmental factors.

If your dog has a serious aggression issue around his food bowl or when he is in possession of what he perceives as things of high value, consider the following:

1.    Make sure all humans and dogs are safe. This means that the dog should be physically managed – crated, gated or on a leash in the house (when you are home,) so the dog is prevented from becoming aggressively reactive.

2.    Balance your relationship with your dog. Let him know that your relationship is a give and take kind of deal. Control the things in life he wants. Put him on a learn-to-earn program of performing sits and downs for these valuable things in his life. All family members should participate so he gets the same message from everyone.

3.    Get back into the training groove with sits and downs to give him a sense of working for leadership rather than feeling responsible for it himself.

4.    Exercise your dog to more constructively manage his energy rather than it being managed by the dog in a destructive way.

5.    Finally, get with a good trainer or behaviorist to begin working on a behavior modification program to directly address the issues of food aggression and aggression around anything else.

If you detect a problem, it should be addressed sooner than later because this aggressive dog behavior grows stronger each time the dog growls or snaps causing people to back away. Dogs repeat behaviors that work for them. If you notice your dog growling around their food bowl or growling when you approach them in certain situations, call a trainer or behaviorist before the problem gets worse. If you secure a trainer, be as comfortable with the trainer as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!”

By Popular Demand: Our Non-Toxic Solutions To Fleas

I was reading the Houston Chronicle Thursday, March 18 and on the front page was this headline:
EPA scrutinizes flea, tick products that it warns can be deadly to pets. You can read the article here.

We choose NOT to use these topical flea and tick products. They ARE a pesticide. The packaging specifically tells you to wash your hands immediately after using the product and to not let a child pet the dog if you have recently put the product on the dog. Think about that!

We choose not to use pesticides on our dogs because their health and well being is too important. The more exposure dogs get to pesticides or low-quality food that contains meats not even fit for human consumption, the greater their chance of getting cancer. Do you ever wonder why cancer is on the rise in the dog population?

It is more work — yes. But we feel it is our responsibility to protect the health of our dogs just as parents protect the health of their children.

So here is a list of the things we do to keeps fleas and ticks off our dogs in a safe, natural way:

  • Wash all pet beds in hot water and dry in the dryer to kill fleas and flea eggs.
  • Make a natural flea spray by cutting up six organic lemons, boiling them in a quart of water, and letting them sit for a few hours to steep. Use at least one fruit per pint.  Strain the lemon water into a spray bottle and lightly spray the pet’s fur. Be sure not to spray the lemon mixture in the dogs face or on any open scratches or wounds.  The oil in the lemons helps suffocate the fleas and the smell of the lemon will also help deter fleas.  This is the remedy I use most often.
  • Use Neem on your dogs and your dog’s beds.  Neem is a brown powdery substance that can be shaken on your dog’s bed and also shaken onto the dog and base of neck, between hips and rubbed into their coat.  It will kill the fleas.  Buy this from a reputable source so you can be sure it really has Neem in it. This is my second-favorite remedy.
  • Regularly vacuuming carpets and plush furniture also is important to rid a home of fleas and ticks. Be sure to toss out the vacuum bag so that the fleas and ticks do not crawl out of the bag after you shut off the vacuum.
  • Your most basic tool in fighting fleas and ticks is the underrated flea comb. It is simple to use and very effective in catching not only fleas and ticks, but flea eggs as well.
  • Use tweezers or a tick scoop to remove any other bugs and burrs.
  • You can dab some petroleum jelly on the comb to help make the fleas stick to its tines.
  • Comb your pet over white paper. If fleas are present, you will see tiny black specks fall on the paper.
  • To check your dog for fleas when bathing, place a large white towel beneath your dog. Fleas typically fall off when you rinse the dog, so you’re likely to spot them on the towel.
  • You can make a rinse from cider vinegar and water to rinse your dog with after you bathe them.
  • You can try Brewer’s Yeast in your dog’s food.  Lots of people say it works, I didn’t think it worked for us.
  • Be cautious with essential oils.  Dogs are very sensitive to them.  If you choose to use some essential oils such as rosemary or citrus do NOT let your dog smell the essential oils directly.  Their mucous membranes, sense of smell is much more acute than ours and this can cause problems.

If you have natural ways to control fleas and ticks please share!

The #1 Killer of Puppies And Young Dogs


Amazing! You would have thought cancer, certainly not behavior problems in puppies and dogs as the #1 killer. However, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has validated that behavior issues, not infectious diseases are the number one cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age. That is a crime. Why? Because behavior issues arise due to lack of primary socialization and training when puppies are in their first three months.

Behavior issues arise because of lack of training. Behavior issues arise because of lack of leadership. So the crime in all of this is behavior issues are preventable with owner involvement, and owner responsibility to give their puppy what the puppy needs – training. If owners provide early education for their puppies and start off on the right foot with their puppy, many if not all behavioral issues can be thwarted. Puppies need to learn to be around all kinds of people, all kinds of kids, all kinds of places, all kind of noises, car, strollers etc. All of this is possible even before they are fully vaccinated. By second round of vaccinations, your puppy has a lot of protection.

Just use common sense. Don’t take your puppy to a dog park, don’t take your puppy to a public pet store. Take your puppy around other dogs you know, to other people’s homes, have people over to your home. Let your puppy get used to kids and other dogs. If your dog should develop behavior issues, don’t ignore them. The longer you let it go, the more the dog gets to rehearse the bad behavior and the more difficult it is to fix. Have a positive reinforcement trainer come to your home to work with you and the dog immediately. You wouldn’t ignore your child’s problem would you?

Need help NOW? Check out our  puppy training course. You’ll think I’ve moved in with you!

Be a responsible pet owner. Socialize your puppy, get training for your puppy and if issues develop – fix them. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!

Dogs on Furniture – Yes Or No?


You come into your family room, only to find your dog happily snoozing in your spot on your couch! Now, for some folks this is not a problem–for others it is. When it comes to the touchy subject of dogs on the furniture, my vote is to YES, have dogs on the furniture. Yup, you heard that right, on the furniture. I would however, present the following clarifications:

  • There should be rules. Dogs should earn the privilege of getting on your furniture by at least, doing a sit. This should be followed by a command to get them on the sofa, like the command Up. After your dog performs a sit, simply pat the couch and say Up. So his getting on your couch is on YOUR terms, not his.
  • You should teach your dog a relocation cue (another place to go other than the sofa) and train this command frequently. Examples would be, go to your bed, or once off the couch just place your dog in a down by your feet in front of the couch. This teaches him that you can let him up, BUT, you can also tell him to get off and go somewhere else. If your dog has a tendency or potential to guard the sofa, doing this exercise frequently would help to minimize any resource guarding that could develop.
  • Dogs with strong leader type personalities or temperaments would have a greater tendency to resource guard space. The stronger this tendency, the more I would tend to limit time (IF ANY AT ALL) on the furniture.

You can circumvent a lot of these issues by deciding early on if you want your dog on the furniture or not and begin training the behavior as a puppy. If you decide somewhere along the line to change the rules, be patient, your dog can’t read your mind. You will have to patiently and consistently train him to stay off the couch. Also, if your dog came to you from another family, they might have allowed him to be on the furniture. You will have to teach him new commands to stay off the furniture. Again, yelling and punishment doesn’t get you much, so be patient and consistent and remember set your dog up to succeed so you are able to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative.


Separation Anxiety in Dogs – Causes and Cures

There are multiple reasons dogs can develop separation anxiety. Two of the most common are:

1) A dog is not allowed to learn “alone time.” This is usually the result of a member of the family constantly being with the dog or taking the dog with them whenever they leave. Dogs need to learn how to be alone. This alone time training should begin immediately when you get your dog or puppy. Most people get a new dog or puppy and plan to spend an entire weekend or a week’s vacation consumed with making the dog feel “part of the family”. This is all well and good, but you must allow the dog to be alone. Start out by crating the dog and leaving the room for 5 minutes. Do not return unless the dog/puppy is quiet. If you return when the dog or puppy is barking, whining or crying you have just told the dog that behavior works – it gets you back in its sight. The dog is now controlling your goings and comings.

Begin extending his alone time, incorporating actually leaving the house for extended periods of time. Do NOT make a big fuss when you either exit the house or return home. Departures and arrivals needs to be low key so you dog does not attach any “special” meaning to them.

2) Another factor in dogs having separation anxiety is lack of structure in the home. Dogs are very much like children, they do very well when they know what is expected of them, the rules never change and they need to say “please” for the things they want that have high value. Basic obedience such as simple sits and downs can work wonders in adding structure and leadership role into your relationship with your dog.


Is Your Dog Shy Or Fearful of Being Touched?

Most of us have seen dogs that pull back or shy away from being touched or petted by a person. Even if the dog is not aggressive, it just doesn’t want people to touch it. In a lot of stray dogs, this shyness is common behavior. But, it may be able to be changed, especially if the dog is still in the puppy stage. It begins with instilling structure in a dog’s life. This is very important for many reasons, especially in a fearful puppy or dog. When you begin training, your dog will start to display better behavior in every aspect from obeying your command to potty training. Dogs really do enjoy being obedient, because they get rewarded with praise and even food treats from their owners, plus it gives them a job to do – a purpose. Just as you do with children, teaching your dog how to behave is essential. What if you do have a puppy or young dog who seems to be afraid of your touch? While you can’t force him to let you touch him, there are some things you can do. Changing a dog’s behavior isn’t always easy, but adding structure and having patience can make a big difference. Talking kindly and trying to “lure” the dog to you, may work with some pets, with some it won’t. When a dog has been a stray or for some other reason has had very little human contact, it can be very difficult to establish trust. Give him patience, time and structure and he will grow to trust you. However, this doesn’t mean that he will allow you to touch him. So, are there any options? One option is to allow your dog to learn your scent. Sometimes putting an old shirt of yours atop his bedding can keep your scent present while he sleeps or rests. Once trust is gained, allow the dog to lie in your arms for an extended period, until he is fully awake. This way, he will start learning your scent and will feel more connected to you. While this isn’t guaranteed to work, it will help to begin lessening the fear in your dog. Truthfully, there are dogs who simply will never allow you to touch them. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you, but the fact is, that if they have gone for months or years before you had them without human contact, they may never allow it. One dog I worked with had been in a crate 23 hours a day for the entire 18 months of his life. He was terrified of everything. It took me 6 months of work on a daily basis to get him to where he actually enjoyed being touched and even became quite attached to a few people. Again, including structure which includes training and being a good leader to your dog, continuing to be patient and kind, will hopefully enable you to touch your dog so he will enjoy it. Not all dogs are lap dogs, but they still want to be part of your pack. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children, and remember “Opportunity Barks!”  

Dog Whisperer

Just Who is Jim Burwell?

Leader of the Pack.

Dog Whisperer

If you own a dog, that’s supposed to be you, according to Jim Burwell, a Houston Trainer renowned for his almost mystical ability to become one with dogs. One Saturday morning, two worried owners arrive at Burwell’s for an evaluation.   It’s the last stop before they return their 80-pound Airedale mix to the shelther where they got him.  Toby seems appealing and friendly, but his owners confide they can’t handle him.  He growls at them for no apparent reason.  He’s destructive when left alone.  He has pulled them into traffic on his walks. He nearly flunked out of one obedience class because his aggression scared the other dogs.  Nor had two other trainers been able to help.  Though Burwell admints that getting bitten is an occupational hazard, he is undeterred by Toby’s “rap sheet”.  He clips Toby to a leash and heads to the middle of the classrom.  “Hey big boy.  Let’s go walkies”, Burwell invites in a happy talk voice.  The owners warn Burwell that walking this dog is like being on the wrong end of a tractor pull. Their hopes are not high for dog or for trainer.

Without so much as a tug on the leash, or a harsh word, the recalcitrant Toby trots to the center of the classroom, drawn by Burwell’s focused attention.  Thirty minutes later, he is heeling  on command.  Had Burwell turned a scarf into a rabbit, Toby’s owners could not have been more astonished.  Given hope for their wayward pet, they promptly sign up for further training.

When Burwell works with a new dog, he’s not unlike a slow, persistent suitor who knows that with attention and patience, he will gain the trust and connection he desires.  He bends slightly toward the dog, talks softly, praises enthusiastically.  He seems to sense when the dog needs firm control or when it needs coaxing.  It’s as though he and the dog are listening to the same station, but nobody else can hear the music.

“He takes a dog that’s going crazy, acting nuts and puts a leash on it and the dog does what he asks it to do”  He has some knack for making dogs just obey, a natural rapport with animals, Dogs just respond to him.”  Terry Hugo, DVM.

“Jim has a special ability to communicate with dogs, and they communicate with him”, Linda Barrett

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