Tag Archives: jumping dog

  • Keaton and Ramsey, Sumo Wrestlers at Play!

    Written By Leigh Pyron

    A few years back I received a call from a woman who was having some behavior problems with her year and a half old Yellow Lab named Keaton. Keaton had always been very mouthy as a puppy, but now as an adolescent he had started practicing another bad habit of nipping people and their clothing whenever he would greet them. In addition, he had started acting aggressively on the leash, barking, lunging and growling at other dogs.
    When I first arrived at Keaton’s house, I could already hear him barking before I reached the front door. As I approached the door, I could see through the window Keaton’s owner holding him by the collar as he leaped up and down, barking and lunging toward the door. As I got closer I could barely hear the owner in the background saying, “it’s ok, you can come in.” Being rather fond of my appendages and the clothes I was wearing, I instructed the owner to toss a few treats on floor for Keaton to find as I entered the house.   When I entered, I told her to toss a few more treats away from us as we walked toward the kitchen island where we sat down on a couple of high stools next to it. Keaton was trying his best to get our attention, while we were working hard at ignoring him. I watched him out of the corner of my eye nip at the tail end of my vest and at my treat bag. He did this a few times, but since I continued to ignore him he finally walked away and lay down on his dog bed.
    After interviewing the owner and getting bit more information on Keaton’s history, I asked her if Keaton had any familiar dog friends that he seemed to get along with. She said she did go on regular hikes with another woman who had a Yellow Lab, as well, named Ramsey who was close to Keaton’s age, and that they had been hiking and playing together for almost a year now. Knowing I could obtain an incredible amount of information watching Keaton interact with not only the owner’s friend, but her dog as well, I suggested she contact her friend and arrange a time for the three of us to meet with the two dogs.
    Unexpectedly, a few days prior to meeting with my client and her friend, I happened to run into Keaton and his owner at a large open space area where I took my morning group of 6 dogs. My dogs were already off leash when Keaton and his owner arrived. Seconds after the owner unleashed Keaton, he came bounding into the group invasively greeting each one of my dogs. As I stood by observing, ready to intervene if necessary, Keaton came upon a little, white Poodle mix named Mini. The two of them immediately started cueing each other to play. They took turns greeting each other with polite play-bows, followed by running around in circles and taking turns chasing each other. Keaton was surprisingly quite gentle with Mini. Compensating for the size difference, he would drop to the ground in order for Mini to interact with him. They would also take quick breaks or pauses on occasion and then start right back up again with another gracious play bow as if to say “let the games begin!” and off they would go chasing after one another. I was thrilled to see Keaton interact so well with Mini, and from what I observed, it seemed to be very healthy play.
    A few days later, I arrived at the Open Space trail a little early to meet my client and her friend. Her friend had arrived shortly after me with her Lab, Ramsey. As she drove up, I could see and hear Ramsey barking and jumping in the back of her SUV. He was jumping with such force that the vehicle was actually still in motion even after she parked the car. As the owner got out of the car, she waved to me and hollered a quick “hello” which was barely audible over Ramsey’s barking. I waved back at her with a concerned smile and wide-open eyes knowing she was going to release the beast at any moment, and he would most likely head right for me. I watched her as, without hesitation, she opened the back hatch to her SUV and this 90lb dog leaped out of the back of her car and headed directly toward me. Needless to say, he almost knocked me over once he closed the distance between us, with the owner in tow yelling, “Ramsey, get down, get down!” After many apologies, we greeted and exchanged a handshake. I asked her if Ramsey had always behaved this way when she took him for a ride in the car. She said, “oh no, he knows he’s going to see Keaton today, that’s why he’s so excited.” Not a minute later, my client pulled up with Keaton barking and jumping in the back of her car as well.
    Trying to be fast on my feet, I quickly rushed over to her car hoping to get there before she let Keaton out. If I could get at least one of them into a calm state we might be able to walk to the trailhead without so much drama. I got no further than a few feet closer to her car when the back hatch of the car mysteriously opened on it’s own and Keaton, already airborne, flew out of the car like a cartoon character wearing a Superman cape! There was no question in my mind where he was heading… In seconds Keaton body-slammed into Ramsey and the two of them went at it like two Sumo wrestlers. I immediately took off running after them directing the owners to try and pull them apart and put them on a leash. I instructed the owners to quickly start walking and to keep a distance between the dogs by keeping their dogs on the extreme opposite sides of each other. I wanted to try and get the dogs to relax and calm down before we let them go off-leash. Once they were both calm, sniffing about and taking care of business, I told the owners to quietly and slowly unclip their leashes and let them go.
    Within in seconds the two dogs bolted ahead of us, front legs plowing into the dirt like bulldozers as they crossed the gap between them in order to make contact. Keaton and Ramsey were already at the peak of their arousal and they hadn’t even engaged yet! Both dogs were locked in direct eye contact, tails high and erect, ears forward and hackle’s up from head to tail, mouths wide open, bearing their glistening white, youthful teeth. It all happened as fast as lightening. They both collided like freight trains, lunging and grabbing for each other’s necks, bound and determined to pin the other to the ground first. I stood there, in those few seconds, watching this violent dance between these two dogs.  I was shocked as I looked over at the two owners who stood by calmly smiling while they watched their dogs at what they thought was all fun and play. All I could think was that these two dogs had been practicing and perfecting this kind of “play” for almost a year now! Keaton and Ramsey’s “play” was no less than that of two fighting Pit Bulls. The only thing missing was a crowd of bystanders cheering them on!
    Within seconds, I hollered out to the women to immediately grab their respective dog and put him on a leash. We all dashed towards the dogs and the owners struggled to grab ahold of their dog. Both dogs continued to lung and snap at each other even after they were restrained on the leash. I quickly got out some treats and handed them to the owners, instructing them to pass the treat by their dog’s nose and then immediately toss several treats on the ground in the opposite direction of the other dog. All I can say is Thank Goodness they were Labs! Where Labs are concerned, food is the cure-all-end-all for diminishing drama and arousal. Once the dogs got a whiff of the treats the game quickly changed to a hunting expedition.
    Unfortunately, this type of “play” between dogs happens all the time. The most common place to find it is at your local dog park. Many people assume if their dogs are interacting and engaging with one another and they don’t draw blood, they are playing.  When aggressive and inappropriate play is practiced over and over again on a regular basis, it can further enhance or create various other bad behaviors, such as Keaton’s nipping at people and being aggressive on leash.
    Here are some things to look for in your dog and other dogs that will help you define what is healthy play and what is unsafe, more risky play.
    Healthy Play
    1.      Self Interruption – dogs take occasional breaks from playing, and then after a few seconds resume play again
    2.      Shared physical space – there is a comfortable amount of space between the two dogs at play
    3.      Ability to compensate or modify for size or strength differences – a large breed plays more gently with a small breed, sometimes laying on the ground so the small dog can engage better
    4.      Mirrored or tandem movement during interruption or during play – one of them stops to potty or sniff something, the other one follows and does the same
    5.      Accepted or reversible role – take turns with offensive and defensive roles, switching position of being on the top and on bottom at play
    Slightly Risky Play
    1.      Rise in intensity of arousal – dogs become more aroused the longer they play
    2.      Hackles are up – hair stands up on back of neck, body and or hind end.
    a.       Hackles that are raised from shoulders down to rump often denote fear or conflict in the dog
    b.      Hackles that are razor-thin between shoulder blades, often denote high arousal in the dog
    c.       Hackles that are widely spread in any area usually denotes conflict in the dog
    3.      Snarling and/or barking with teeth exposed
    4.      No self interruption – no interment breaks during play
    5.      Hard, physical contact – pushing and shoving each other
    Slightly More Risky Play
    1.      Direct eye contact – dogs stare directly into other dogs eyes as opposed to intermit glancing and looking away
    2.      Frontal and aligned body positioning – as opposed to uneven lines in body when they first meet or reengage
    3.      Faster interactions – respond without hesitation or pauses to every move
    4.      Recall with delayed response – if try to call dog to come, it doesn’t respond right away
    Most Risky Play
    1.      Relentless, uninterrupted engagement – non-stop combative response to each movement
    2.      Reorientation to the other dog’s neck or throat – constantly trying to orient head in a position that allows for the dog to grab at the throat or neck area of the other dog
    3.      Grab or bite with headshake – once dog engages teeth in other dog he starts to shake his opponent back and forth
    4.      Full mouth biting - dog intentionally tries to directly bite other dog
    5.      Ears are forward in position, intense chasing with open mouth, making physical contact at impact
    6.      More than one dog chasing another dog – ganging up on weakest link
    7.      Targeting another dog – amongst several dogs at play, one dog keeps an eye on one other dog and continually tries to get at the dog to make contact with it. Targeting dog will make direct eye contact with frontal body alignment, tail up and ears forward. Very difficult to interrupt or stop dog that is targeting another dog.
    Take the time to learn your dog’s body language and determine whether your dog is engaging in healthy play or risky play. Visit your local dog park one day without your dog and just sit and observe the dogs at play. See if you can assess into which group of play they would fall. Play is very important in a dog’s life whether it’s with humans or dogs just make sure it’s always safe play!
    There is an excellent YouTube video by Zoom Room, which shows great examples of dog body language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00_9JPltXHI

  • Jumping Dogs and Flying Crickets!

    Written by Leigh Pyron

    As an in-home pet sitter there have been many times when I’ve watched multiple dogs at one household. A few years ago, I had a client call to ask me if I was available to pet sit their five-year-old Spaniel mix, Ginger and their Leopard Gecko, Harvey. I told them I was available the first two nights, but after that I was booked at another client’s home to pet sit their two animated, vivacious eight-month-old Standard Poodles named Jupiter and Pluto. Since the two Poodles got along with other dogs, and the owner didn’t mind if I had other dogs over, I offered to take Ginger with me to their home. The client was thrilled, but wanted to make sure I would still be able to take care of Harvey. Now I thought to myself…how hard could it be to take care of a Gecko…sure, I said, no problem.
    So, the instructions on how to take care of Harvey were to change his water and feed him 3 to 5 crickets daily. That all sounded pretty easy to me until they mentioned that I would have to go to the pet store a couple of times to pick up more crickets. Now normally that would be a simple request, but as it was summer time, the busiest time of the year for me, I needed to figure out how to fit cricket-purchasing into my crazy schedule. Especially since the only pet store that carried them was a bit out of the way from where I would be pet sitting.
    Well, my cricket adventure began the first night I started watching Ginger and Harvey. The owners were running behind schedule the day of their departure and didn’t have time to purchase more crickets before they left. So, it looked like my dinner would have to wait, as I ran off to the pet store before closing time with the Kricket-Keeper cage in hand to purchase those priceless crickets. After I got the crickets, I remembered that I was to pick up some food for them as well. I found a container of these funny little orange cubes called Fluker’s Orange Cube Complete Cricket Diet… perfect! The container said they were, “…made from kelp, spirulina, brewer’s yeast and more to gutload crickets.” Ok, now my question is, has anybody ever inquired what exactly the “more” ingredient is in the orange cubes? I now realized I was definitely taking my job a bit too seriously. I was actually concerned about the health of the crickets that I would be feeding to the Gecko…are the crickets a pet too? I guess I should have charged for them too!
    The next morning, after I let Ginger out and fed her, I headed off to the garage, where I left the crickets, to get Harvey’s breakfast. As I approached the Kricket-Keeper cage and looked inside, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Almost every cricket was belly-up at the bottom of the cage. Yikes! I panicked, how could that possibly be, I just bought them yesterday! With a crazy day ahead of me, how was I going to fit in buying more crickets? Luckily, I managed to catch three of the ten or so crickets left alive out of the cage and put them into Harvey’s lair for breakfast. I then got ready myself, loaded Ginger in the car, along with the dead crickets, and started out for the day. Somehow I would have to squeeze in a trip to the pet store once again.
    I finished around 6:00 p.m. that day and decided to make one last stop for the crickets before I headed back to Ginger’s house. When I arrived at the pet store I found a clerk and told him what had happened with my newly-purchased crickets. I asked him if this time he could pick out a few crickets that had a bit more vitality and longevity. The clerk was more than happy to exchange them, the only problem was they were out of crickets and wouldn’t receive any more until tomorrow afternoon. This can’t be happening! How difficult can it be to take care of a simple little desert reptile from Pakistan. I couldn’t believe I would have to return again!
    The next day I had to pack up Ginger and myself to move to Jupiter and Pluto’s house. So, at the end of the day, all packed and ready to go, I fed Harvey the last of the living crickets and headed off to the pet store one more time to purchase those irreplaceable insects. Thank goodness they had received a shipment that afternoon. Now all I had to do was transport Ginger and the crickets safely to Jupiter and Pluto’s house.
    When I arrived at Jupiter and Pluto’s, I left Ginger in the car for a moment and picked up my precious container of crickets and headed for the front door. Normally, when the owners leave they always put Jupiter and Pluto in the back yard, so I knew I could enter the house quietly and put the crickets up and away before I let them in. As I approached the front door I could hear the dogs barking in the background, although it seemed a little louder than usual this time. I didn’t think much of it as I put the key in the lock, turned the knob and opened the door and…Kaboom! Two out of control, crazy, jumping Poodles hit me like a freight train when I opened the door. The only thing that came out of my mouth was “NOOOoooooooo!” as the Kricket-Keeper cage went flying into the air out of my reach over the top of Jupiter and Pluto’s head. Crash! The container hit the floor, the lid popped off and thirty crickets scrambled across the entryway floor heading desperately for a place to hide from the scary, hairy, four-legged creatures that hunted them. Out of shear desperation I yelled, “Leave-it! Leave-it!”
    Needless to say, it took me hours and hours throughout the night to collect the thirty or more crickets that scurried and bustled about all over the floor of the house. By the time I went to bed, as I tried to nod off to sleep, all I could hear was the disharmonious, incongruous sound of chirping coming from the last few crickets I couldn’t find. I felt like I was camping in the wilderness, it was not unlike the annoyance that one experiences with a persistent mosquito that buzzes by your ear just at the moment you’re about to drop off to sleep. How could these tiny little creatures cause such chaos?
    Why do dogs jump on people? 
    It’s not uncommon for puppies and dogs to jump up on people when they greet them.   When a dog greets another dog they immediately sniff each other’s faces. And, in the wild, the young wolf cubs will submissively sniff, lick and nibble on their mother’s face in order to stimulate the activity of regurgitating food up for them. So, since humans are much taller than dogs, the easiest, quickest way for them to get to our face is to jump! Dogs of all ages and sizes will jump up on humans for a variety of reasons, such as ritual greeting, playfulness, excitement or arousal and trying to dominate.
    Teaching dogs not to “Jump-Up” on People
    There are many ways to address a dog jumping-up on humans. Here are a few great ideas to try out:
    Ignore the Dog
    When you arrive home and open the door to a jumping dog, try walking right past him, totally ignoring him. Don’t look at him, or talk to him, or touch him. Walk right past him as if he wasn’t there and busy yourself with other things until the dog is calm. Once the dog is calm, you can now greet him. But, if he starts to jump again when you bend over to greet him, quickly stand up, walk away and ignore him again. Repeat this exercise until he can remain calm while petting him.
    Put “Jumping-Up” on Cue
    You can teach your dog to “jump-up” on command. First, take a high value treat, such as cheese, cooked chicken or any other type of food that your dog really loves. Call your dog and ask him to “sit” in front of you. Once he is sitting, take a treat and hold it up high just above his head. When he looks up at the treat say, “Jump!”  When he jumps for the treat say, “Yes!” and give him the treat.  After the jump ask him to sit again.
    Another way to get your dog to jump-up is to take two treats and hold one in each hand.  Place the treats between your thumb and first finger of each hand so your dog can see them.  Show the dog the treats and then hold your hands at chest level with palms facing out and say, “jump!”  Most dogs will jump-up and hit your palms with their paws.  When he does say, “Yes!” and give him the treats.  Be sure to ask for a “sit” before and after this exercise as well.
    Use a Distraction
    Have a small bowl of treats somewhere near the front door so when you arrive home or if you have guests coming over, you can toss a “find-it” treat. Simply pick up a treat, show the dog the treat, toss it away from the front entryway and say “find-it!” When the dog goes to find the treat, let yourself or your guest enter the house. When he comes back to the front door again toss him another treat before he gets there. When he goes to find the second treat, walk away and ignore him until he is in a calm state of mind.
    Dragging a Leash
    When you’re home with your dog and expecting company, you can attach a leash to his collar or a harness and let him drag it on the floor. When someone arrives at the front door you can step on the leash just enough to prevent him from jumping. Once your guest enters have them walk quickly past the dog ignoring him. Release the dog by taking your foot off the leash and walk away, also ignoring him until he is in a calm state of mind.
    Use a “Sit” or “Down” Stay
    If your dog already knows “sit” or “down” try asking him to do so at the front door before you open it. Before you open the door, put him in a “sit” or “down” position and ask him to “stay.” Give him a few treats to start off with as a reward. When you go to open the door, continue to ask him to “stay.” If he starts to get up when you open the door, quickly close the door and put him back in a “sit” or “down” again. Continue to repeat this exercise until he stays in position when you open the door.   Once your guest has entered, praise him, release him and walk away.
    Using an X-pen or Baby Gate
    Put your dog in a small room and close off the entrance with an exercise pen or baby-gate so he can’t get out. Leave your dog for a brief moment and then return, walking back to greet him. If he jumps up when you arrive at the gate, immediately turn and walk away from him. Walk about four or five feet away, pause and then return, walking back to greet him again. If he jumps up again when you get there, turn around and leave again. Repeat this until he stops jumping when you arrive at the gate. Praise him and release him from the room when he succeeds.
    Remember to remain calm and patient when practicing these exercises. If the human gets frustrated or angry during the process, it only creates more excitement and arousal in the dog, which causes them to jump even more. It usually only takes a few minutes for the dog to realize that what he is doing isn’t working. The first step to success is simply to get the dog to stop practicing the behavior.   From there, it’s just a matter of being consistent with the new rules you have established with him.


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