How to Set Your Husky Up For Success
It is very challenging to have the much needed patience and the appropriate amount of time to properly correct your dog’s behaviour at the door when you are returning home from a heavy, harried, hassled, and otherwise horrible work day. But unless you respond to your dog’s behaviours consistently, you will certainly be sending him mixed messages about his behaviour so do make sure that you a set aside dedicated training times for your dog’s behaviours.
However, you should also keep in mind that when you are especially tired or the dog has just woken up from a long nap and is now full of energy that this may not be the best time to try and work on his sitting and listening skills. Pick your moments when you and your dog can give this venture your full attention and energy. There is a time to just work on managing the behaviours and there are optimal times for working to train behaviours. Choose these times carefully because if you respond to your dog’s behaviours harshly or in anger, you run the risk of undoing any progress that you may have already made with your dog. Take a minute to do a self-check to see how and what you are feeling in the moment. Be honest, if you are not at your best, do not pick that moment to work with your dog.
Manage the behaviours, yes, but pick another time when you are more relaxed and are able to garner that much needed Command Presence for good quality training to happen. It is okay to be human and less than perfect. Perfection is not required when it comes to dog training. Perfectly imperfect humans can train dogs too. Just pick your moments with care and attention. Training is about establishing a trusting relationship bond with your dog. Reacting with a knee – jerk reaction to your dog’s problem behaviours may cause you to lose the trust of your Snow Dog. Always remember, Snow Dogs are highly sensitive dogs that can be challenging to motivate but under the right circumstances, can establish very deep bonds with their owners. Do not take this bond with your dog for granted. Honor this relationship and always treat it tenderly and with the respect that your dog deserves. So think before you speak and act with your Snow Dog.
Understanding The Triggers For Jumping Up
Inside the home, your dog may now associate the door with excited behaviours. For many dogs the first challenge is just being in the room with the door without become over stimulated. Add the stimulus of a person coming through that door and your dog’s excitement or anxiety may go through the roof. You may think of the act of someone coming to the door as a single event but there are actually many components here that may act as individual triggers for your dog’s excitement:
- The dog’s proximity to the front door
- Owner reaching for door handle
- “Click” of door latch
- Squeak of hinges, and the
- “Pop” of air seal when door opens
This does not even take into consideration the obvious triggers of the sight and sound of a car in the driveway, the sound of knocking, or the ringing of a doorbell. Desensitization to all of the triggers is necessary before behaviours can be expected to change.
Where and How To Begin Training For The Greeting
It is easier to train for a specific behaviour than a vague or undefined one. Choose the type of greeting you want your dog to use when meeting people. Do you want them to SIT in front of people or lie down in front of people? At home, do you want them to lie down away from the door and wait to be approached by the person? Decide on one correct response and train for that rather than allowing different behaviours at different times. It’s harder for the dog to know what is expected if he is not corrected or is rewarded for different behaviours – for sitting, standing, lying down, or trotting around the room quietly. Even if the other behaviours are not annoying and you might be okay with any of them, the only acceptable behaviour is the one that you cued your dog to do. It is not up to your dog to decide which behaviour he wants to perform otherwise why would he bother listening and following your instructions at any other point in time? There are a variety of acceptable greeting behaviours available to you so choose the one that suits both your dog and your situation.
Indoors, low threshold, fearful, or anxious dogs may benefit from some special considerations when it comes to anxiety producing activities like someone coming to the door. These dogs may benefit from the added security of being sent to their crate, onto their bed mat, or to some other safety spot when someone comes to the door. Being further away in proximity to the anxiety producing stimulus may help the already over stimulated dog to calm down It might also be helpful for some anxious dogs to hold a favourite toy in their mouth when they are internally trying dealing with the anxiety of a person coming to the door.
Holding something in their mouth sometimes can help to orally channel some of their excited energy. This concept works along the same premise as letting built up steam pressure escape before it pops a valve. Redirecting focus off of the anxiety producing stimulus using the WATCH ME cue can help to control greeting situations. If the dog is anxious or afraid, Squeak-and-Treat (use a pillow squeaker from an old toy to redirect your dog’s focus on the noise of the squeaker and then give a treat) can help to make new and more pleasant associations with the door. Using these redirection methods, greetings have the opportunity to be made at a much quieter or calmer state of mind. After consistent reinforcement for the behaviour you want from your dog, they eventually will figure out that it’s not worth their time to bark or jump because they can get the attention that they wanted by offering polite behaviour instead of rude or excited behaviour. Always redirect your dog’s attention away from the door and onto you using a WATCH ME cue and show them what you want them to do when someone is coming through the door.
Other Techniques For Redirecting Jumping Up Behaviours
- Train your dog to have a solid unshakable SIT. If your dog has a strong and reliable SIT, then he won’t jump up when he has been cued to sit. A simple but effective fix to this problem.
- Another thing you can do is to tether your dog with a 6 foot leash to something sturdy and unmovable. Once they are securely tethered turn and walk away from them to create distance between you. Usually between 10 and 20 paces is adequate. Now turn back towards the dog and walk up to them. The object of this exercise is to only give your dog attention as long as all four paws remain on the ground. Cue the dog to SIT. The moment your dog jumps up, turn and walk away from them. Count to 5. Turn back to face your dog and begin walking towards them again. Pay attention to the dog ONLY if all four paws remain on the ground and the SIT cue has been obeyed. If the dog jumps up turn and walk away again. Repeat.
Eventually the dog figures out that jumping up is not getting him any attention and that as long as he sits and keeps all of his paws on the ground, he gets the human beings’ attention. And really, that is all your dog wants from humans, attention. We just have to help him understand that jumping up WILL NOT get him the attention that he wants. Only sitting and keeping his paws on the ground will bring him the attention that he so badly wants. THIS is how all dog behaviours are able to be shaped and modified.
Meeting People Outdoors
Jumping up can also happen outside the home too. When meeting people outdoors, the same rules apply to your dog’s behaviour as they would for meeting people indoors. Make sure that you set your dog up for success there too .The dog should not receive attention or reinforcement for unruly, excited behaviours, or jumping up behaviours. If you want to be assured that your dog remains in the sitting position for introductions, you can insure this outcome by lowering the leash until there is a U-shaped slack and then pinning the leash to the ground with your foot. If you stand on the leash there is no way for the dog to jump up at the visitor. This is especially handy when there is a small child or an elderly person involved and it is of the utmost importance to keep your dog from launching themselves at them. Learn to be proactive with your bouncy Snow Dog.
If your dog shows good impulse control then it is okay for them to stand for the greeting BUT keep in mind that it is much easier for a dog to give in to the urge to jump up from a standing position than it is from a sitting position. Sit or lie down to meet and greet remains the better option for most dogs. If your dog is aggressive, reactive, anxious, or afraid of meeting new people, then walking outdoors can quickly turn into a nightmare for both you and your dog. Ideally, dogs that are so overwhelmed that they either shut down or they lash out in fear or anger should really be trained and worked with indoors where there is less stimulation. After the dog has been sufficiently desensitized and its triggers have been addressed, then you can begin working with the dog outdoors.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this series on Teaching Your Husky To Greet Politely. I know that it is a very common issue for many Snow Dog owners.
As always, we welcome your questions, comment, and stories. We encourage you to share your stories about how you deal with your Snow Dog that jumps up. We share our stories because when we share we might just be helping someone who is struggling with their dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.