Why “Correcting” Your Dog For Jumping on People Can Create an Aggressive Dog

Thanks Denver Dog for the Photo

I recently had a client come to me, with a Golden Retriever that is about a year old but is suddenly getting aggressive when people approach.

The dog has always been social with people, and is overly social at home although she is showing small signs of beginning to change at home as well.

The owner is devastated, and can’t understand why all of a sudden there is such a change in the demeanor of her dog.

She did all the right things with the puppy when she was young, socializing her, taking her to a training class, and spaying her before her first heat.

But now all of a sudden things are changing rapidly and scarily.

Her dog tried to bite a child who approached them the other day.

So I as I got more history from the owner and information we began to deduce why this is happening.

The dog has always been pretty happy go lucky and has always jumped on people in greeting.

When she was a puppy and little, her owner didn’t really mind, so she learned to socialize with people in this way.

Originally as a puppy she was a little nervous and shy and hesitant, but the owner was able to work her through it well by letting her warm up and then socialize with people.

The owner had taught her through classes to stay “Off” of them so she has learned not to jump on her owners.

But as she has aged and gotten bigger the jumping on people has become more of an issue for her owner.

The dog knocked down a child with a happy jump and wag and she was then severely corrected, yelled at, smacked and then whacked across the face with the leash.  This was the “defining moment” that the owner decided it was time to teach her some manners.

As you can now imagine the “dog obedience class” was not one that focused on positive reward, control, and teaching behaviors motivationally; it was a class that focused on prong collars and using compulsion to deal with problems when they arrived.

So the owner; terrified she would knock down another child began harshly correcting her with a prong collar at first when she would happily approach people; and then what she thought was proactively as people approached her.

As you can imagine, she learned to stay “Off” of people.

correcting dog aggression, dog jumping on people, dog jumps on people

Thanks Your Pure Bred Puppy for the Photo

But her owner still used corrections to “ensure obedience and her alpha role in their relationship” and to make sure that the dog didn’t jump on people.

She did everything she was taught and have even gone back to the original trainer for more advice; which was to proactively use corrections to keep the dog “Off” as she gave the command and give a stronger leash pop.  If she wasn’t having success, it was because the dog did not respect her as alpha and leader of the house.

She came to me because I am known for my positive techniques and success and not only was she getting tired and scared of the aggression she was also tired of using the techniques she had used all her life with all her dogs.

So What is Happening?

Why on earth is her dog getting aggressive?  And, WHY is her initial training not working?

It is pretty simple for me to see when she breaks down the history of the dog, the dog’s temperament, and the way the dog has been trained; paired with the corrections she is getting now for interacting with people.

The dog was a nervous puppy, to me this tells me she was initially not confident and was worried about probably people and her environment.

Through socializing (and unfortunately jumping) the puppy learned to enjoy the interaction of people and began to get excited when she met people.

The owner allowed the behavior to become a bad “habit” and we all know how hard it is to break a “bad habit” so she let the behavior slide until she got a scary situation when the dog jumped on a child.

The dog didn’t know any better, she was just doing what came natural to her; but right after the interaction with the child she was corrected, beaten and yelled at.

She Associated the Beating with the Child

correcting dog aggression, dog jumping on people, dog jumps on people

Thanks The Star for the Photo

Even if she didn’t associate it with the child at first, she quickly learned that interacting with people brought PAIN.

She learned to stay off of people but she also was corrected just when people approached so PEOPLE became her common denominator.

It is also my assumption that she was even more severely corrected for approaching children because the original stressor was with a child; so children were even more scary.  Plus children are closer behaviorally to dogs and easier to succeed showing aggression towards.

For example; if you are a nervous dog you might be scared to bite the 6’4 man that has approached you… you will probably chose to run to try and get away… but if a child comes at you your odds of successfully biting something smaller with poor social skills (remember kids run at, scream, move too quickly and can stress dogs anyway) are more likely, plus it is harder to run away from a running child.  A full grown human, most anyway see and understand not to touch a dog when it is trying fiercely to retreat, but a child will still try to get at a dog.

So to the dog:

People=PAIN

As a way to keep her safe, she uses her defense mechanism of aggression; growling and snapping to stop people from getting too close to her.

AND she is pretty successful!

Most people don’t want to pet a growling, snapping dog (even a Golden)so she has learned to control people.

I believe if she had been a stronger natured dog, more confident, she would likely have bitten her owner for hurting her by now to get the pain to cease.

What Should She Have Done

correcting dog aggression, dog jumping on people, dog jumps on people

Thanks Psychology Today for the Photo

I hope, that as you are reading this you are not HERE  in the shoes of THIS OWNER because she has some serious work to do, and in my opinion will never be able to fully trust her dog again.  However she can turn the tide for her dog, it will be much more difficult than teaching the dog appropriately in the beginning.

Dogs need to be taught appropriate manners as puppies.

They should not be allowed to socialize with people unless they have good manners.

This is really hard with a puppy, because we want them to be social, and we don’t see the “big picture” of how bad this behavior will be when the dog his big.

But puppies are capable of learning control.

Most 8 week old puppies can be taught to sit and wait on command (at least for a short time).

Using a method like this to stop a dog from jumping up are MUCH more effective and don’t have the negative side effect of potentially creating aggression issues.

So for puppies who WANT to socialize they can learn that sitting and waiting brings what they want “socialization with people”; and for puppies that are nervous they can learn to sit and wait and people can give them treats for confident calm behavior (which makes these new people more fun and exciting) and the owner can teach them confidence by getting them to give the owner eye contact and focus.

For more on eye contact and focus click here  our Companion Dog Program also revolves around this skill, so for more help email info@thedogtrainingsecret.com to find out when our new session will begin.

The puppy would learn in a positive way how to control people and it’s environment without force and still would learn appropriate manners and obedience that would keep him from jumping on people, especially when he gets older.

This Dog

correcting dog aggression, dog jumping on people, dog jumps on people

Thanks Vet Street for the Photo

This dog will now have to work on some pretty severe desensitization (for more on that click here)to learn that people are once again good.

But with her history, her owner will have to control people and her environment to make sure she does get stressed and revert back to her fear and aggression.

She will now always need to keep a faithful eye out for any signs of aggression.

And, she will need to work as slowly as the dog needs to ensure she doesn’t stress the dog to the point of aggression.

She needs to stop using the prong collar and pain!  For help on weaning your dog from training collars click here.

The dog will learn to work for toys, and treats, games and attention and affection of her owner.

Her owner must also change their relationship because right now the dog doesn’t trust her and certainly doesn’t see her as fun!  She needs to avoid conflict which causes stress and aggression for more on avoiding conflict click here.

So she will teach her games  and increase her drive  to help her gain her trust and get eye contact and focus.  Be sure to click on the links for more information. 

And, remember if it doesn’t feel right (you don’t want to hit, smack, whack and otherwise correct or hurt your dog) it isn’t.  There are other ways to train that don’t leave you and your dog at odds and in fear of each other!

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Comments

  1. Ashe says:

    Thanks for this terrific article. You have clearly shown that dog training is as much about the owner as the dog, and having both develop trust and understanding of each other to achieve the good manners needed to be a settled family.

    [Reply]

  2. Angela Christopherson says:

    you would think a person would know that pain is not a way to train a dog the same as a child, a dog is like a small child, with a lot of energy. If you love your dog you treat them with respect so they know you love them, I believe they respond better than kids, only with a shorter attention span at times, unless you have a lot of tiny eats. Thanks for the article, I didn’t know that there are trainers out there that think training with pain is a good idea. I’ll know to steer clear of them. Thanks for the warning.

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  3. i have a golden retriever he is 8months old i have had him to puppy classes but he wont stop nipping my arms and hands he also gets hold of my coat etc and will not put it down with out a fight ends up ripping my coat or what ever i am wearing that time my arms are all black and blue and he even bits and then it bleeds i have been trying to stop him from doing this but he just wont stop doing it and i tell you it hurds me i just dont kmow what to do anymore i do have a leach on him so i can get hold of him to try and get him off . he also jumps up on people when they come in the door to visit i now put him i his crste when someone comes in my nine year old granddaughter he jups on her and knocks her down i have spwnt alot of time trying to get him to stop these bad habits with out success i cant take this much longer my son says he is getting to much for me i should sell him do you think he will ever stop doing this or how i could stop him i love him but its getting to much for me as i am on my own i have had 3 daos in my time but they were smaller dogs they never gave me this much trouble what should i do ?? please help me

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    He needs a lot more training and exercise. His lack of exercise is causing him to act out

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    isabel Reply:

    thank you for answering my mail i do take shadow out morning and evening for long walks and he is also plays in my back garden . i will talk to the pet shop where he went for training his first problems and he is very good at listening to me but this nipping and jumping up on me and visiters is just to much to handle i will try to cope with this and hope in time he stops even his vet could nt tell me what to do except keep a leash on him so i can maybe stop him standing on the leach or tieing him to something till he learns to stop doing it when he does stop it treat him each time he will soon learn not to jump up

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  4. Don says:

    I think I’ve deduced how to train your dog not to jump on people, have visitor stop approach & wait until dog sits and settles. Expand on this?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Exactly,

    use a treat and reward your dog YOU for good behavior. The best rewards should come from you and the secondary reward of being petted while sitting comes from good interaction with your guests.

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  5. Grace Cox says:

    I have a 18 month old dane x, he is really placid and if I take him for a walk he is really well behaved near other people and does not jump on them but when he sees another dog he will pull on the lead really hard and because he is big it is hard to control him and will sometimes even rip the lead out of my hand.
    He does not want to hurt the other dog but some owners get a bit anxious when they see him coming, he just seems to get over excited and curious, I do not want him to not want to socialize with other dogs. Any ideas on how to work out how to control this behavior?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’d recommend a gentle leader head halter to give you more control and teach him to give you eye contact and focus when there are distractions http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/eye-contact-focus-behavior-broken/

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  6. Rebecca Foster says:

    This is an interesting read but there is no malice in my 2yo staffie. She is incredibly friendly and insists on jumping up to greet everyone , to be seen and fussed. She is told down and no jumping, which she gets but is so excited, that it lasts a second and even when you go down to her, she still tries to jump and not leave you alone and any further familiar comand, does not work and she ends up being removed from the room or to her crate to calm down.

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    Minette Reply:

    You can take a social dog and if you correct it when it interacts with people you can create aggression. That is what the article is saying.

    [Reply]

  7. Jean R says:

    Thank you for the article. I have been reading articles on this issue to give to a client. They were trained a Gary Wilkes method with the “Bonker Towel” for aggression and someone got bit. So I and also feeding my positive training methods for my own heart today. We do not need to punish or hit a dog for incorrect behavior and certainly not aggression. I like to teach good behaviors from the beginning before anything can get started.

    [Reply]

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