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Jumping up/getting overexcited on walks

JudyN

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I'm posting this as part of a set of helpful 'easy reference' articles for common questions and problems. Feel free to add additional info on dog reactivity in this thread, but please start a new thread for specific questions relating to your dog.

Jumping up/getting overexcited on walks

Some dogs have a habit on walks of jumping up on their owners, maybe mouthing them, and even snarling and growling, making it feel like an attack. This is almost certainly not aggression, but purely your dog being overstimulated and overaroused, and possibly frustrated because he really wants to run off and cause havoc - he is so wired, he doesn't know what to do with his emotions... so he picks on his most trusted 'outlet' - you!

(If you feel that in your dog's case, this really is aggression, then please seek out a reward-based behaviourist who can come and see exactly what is going on.)

My dog is taller than me when he jumps up, and when he was an adolescent, he would mouth my upper arms. They ended up black and blue, and I wore a denim jacket all one summer, both to project my arms and to hide the bruises. One time, he burst the full poo bag I was carrying, and it got EVERYWHERE :mad: Looking back now, I can laugh, but at the time I was in tears :(

What worked for me eventually on walks was turning my back, folding my arms, and standing against a fence/tree so he couldn't come round my front. I didn't say anything, just waited. When he finally stopped and had all four paws on the floor, I would praise him and try to walk on - often he would leap straight up at me again, so I'd stop and turn away again... It could take ages to cover a hundred yards some days.

I made a point of only walking him places there were suitable trees/fences. Also, he was better in general on really narrow paths. Open areas were a trigger for him, and there was nowhere to hide.

Occasionally I would stand on his lead so he couldn't jump up at me. I'm not sure if this counts as positive, but at the time I'd have been tempted to use a mallet if it worked :oops: (It wouldn't - trust me on this ;) ) I would also loop his lead over a convenient fence post or branch if available, and stand just out of reach (occasionally I'd walk away because I was so peed off, but I wouldn't recommend this at all - it could be really stressful for the dog, and stress would make him worse).

He was worst towards the end of the walk, like a fractious child after a long day out, so keeping walks short helped.

In the garden I'd do the same thing, staying near the edges, and close to the back door so I could go inside as soon as he started. I also carried a rubber trug with me, NOT to swing at him in self-defence, but to block his approach so he couldn't jump up and make contact with me. It worked a treat.

With some dogs, you can train a really strong 'sit' or 'down' cue, and ask them to do that when they jump up - it's definitely worth a try, though my dog was always too overaroused at that point for it to even register.

Teaching impulse control can help, as it's one thing for a dog to know what not to do, but another for it to have the self-control to resist its impulses. Check out this video:

After being really consistent about all this, after a while I noticed my dog would run towards me with that look in his eye, and then stop himself at the last moment. When he did that, I'd praise and treat him heavily - the penny was beginning to drop.

As he matured, he improved enormously. There were still flash points, such as when we took him to the beach, but we were prepared for it - my husband and I would often simply stand face to face and let him get that burst of energy out of his system, then he'd be fine. He's also learnt 'wait', with a raised finger and a firm look in the eye - I'm not quite sure how we trained this, but it will often stop him in his tracks even if overexcited.
 
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My boy was exactly like that. He’s got a lot better since he was about 2 years old.... but he regularly had me bruised, ripped clothing (he would play tug with my trouser leg and jacket sleeve (once my jacket hood) and in tears! I tried ignoring him, but try doing that when he’s playing tug with your trouser leg, I struggled just to stay stood up
 
sounds like my Robin is just a typical, excited dog then! It is very exhausting with these types for sure! I feel totally embarassed when I am walking along and he starts jumping up, biting at me all excitedly, I constantly move my hands round the rope to avoid becoming breakfast or dinner, this of course, excites him more He then starts playing tug of war, this always ends up with us stopping traffic, as invariably we both end up in the road!
 

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