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Ask Pilar: Jumping Dogs, Play Biting And Uncontrolled Barking

Welcome to our “Ask Pilar” series! Professional dog trainer and groomer Pilar Garrido will answer questions you have about your pup. She is only providing a basic overview. For more information, please consult a trainer, behaviorist or groomer in your area, who can directly work with your dogs.

For this round of questions, our readers asked:

1. We rescued a pup a few months ago and she is wonderful. She’s easy to house train and is super friendly. Our issue is we don’t know how to stop her from constantly jumping on others. Please help!

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When you say, “easy to house train,” I assume that means the dog is able to follow your orders. You are taking great leadership initiatives. Now, you need to take one more initiative — learning to be more in control. When the dog is jumping, that means she feels free to do what she wants. When your dog starts jumping on others, do not call her name, touch her or look at her. Instead, you should immediately and firmly say ‘NO!’ or ‘Ah…ah…ah…’ and turn your back to her. If she persists, leave the area. Your dog is trying to get your attention. Patting her can make it worse, so touching is not advised. You may even leave a leash on her to control her behavior. You can also tap on her hind legs (gently but firmly) when you say ‘NO’ and then turn around. Communicate to the dog when she stops doing it. It is best to train her at an early age, with this kind of positive reinforcement. She will need to understand the rules of your house, and that you are the leader.

2. We rescued a terrier mix who is now about nine months old. She is a very good dog; house trained and loved by everyone. When we visit my daughter and her adult dog, my pup bites her nonstop. My daughter’s dog is playful but my little pup is a bit aggressive with the play biting. How can I stop my pup from doing this?

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I am so happy that your dog is house trained and loved by everyone. That shows your dog was raised in a healthy and balanced manner. You mentioned that your dog is nine months old and your daughter’s dog is an adult one. The two will normally play because they are part of your extended family. When they play, biting is normal behavior. Since they don’t have hands like us, a dog’s mouth is an important tool for communication. However, monitor their playing very closely. If there are signs of danger, remove your puppy from the situation at once. Your daughter’s dog knows your dog is a puppy. When your puppy makes a mistake, your daughter’s dog may correct her. When you hear sounds from the adult dog, it is usually a sign of a correction. But if you feel uncomfortable with it, put a leash on your dog before going to your daughter’s place. Your puppy can still play, but you are in control, and you can grab the leash whenever you are worried. Bring some toys and treats for your dog. Only give her the treats when you call her and she comes to you. Once this becomes a habit, you can better monitor her whereabouts. Read more from another “Ask Pilar” about “Puppy Play.” 

3. We have a miniature schnauzer. He’s smart and well behaved, and minds his business. However, we cannot control his barking, especially at other dogs and the vacuum cleaner. We purchased a Barxbuddy and that worked a bit, but it seems to be losing its longterm effect. What advice can you give us?

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Sometimes trainers will focus more on the problem than the cause. A Barxbuddy can help with the barking, but it’s a temporary fix. A vacuum can be a delicate matter because some dogs really hate the sound and are scared of it. One thing we can do is avoid using the vacuum when the dog is around. If you have a yard, maybe have your dog go outside. We can also train our dog to start and stop barking on our command. When you tell your dog, ‘Stop,’ and he stops barking, reward him with a treat. You may also need to get somebody to assist you in training your dog. While someone is vacuuming, you can play with your dog, using toys and treats, to distract him. Hopefully, he will forget about the noise because now there are more important things to do than bark at it. You can also do this: leave the vacuum in a place where the dog can see it. While touching the vacuum, call your dog to come near you and give him a treat. You can turn on the sound without using it and, when the dog does not bark, give him a treat. If the dog barks say, ‘STOP!’ and when the dog stops barking, give him a treat. Call your dog again and give him a treat. In the end, he will disregard the sound. Your goal here is to disconnect bad associations from the sound and turn it into a positive experience. 

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