**“Off!”                                                                                                                                            

If your dog jumps up on people, or other dogs (humping), or furniture, this one allows you to ask him to get off it. There are people who actually use a "no humping" command (sorry, it gives me the giggles), but I'm not comfortable with that -- there are many times when you can use the "off" before your guests have a chance to really see what the dog is doing -- why draw attention to it?

 

Of course, the best way to teach your dog NOT to do something, is to manage the situation tirelessly, and heavily reinforce appropriate behavior.  Sometimes my dog is on-leash when guests are here; sometimes not.  It depends on how comfortable I am (how comfortable they are) with that guest.

​There are 2 ways to set the following up: you can have the dog off-lead (if you're comfortable enough with this situation), or you can use a stationary board. Which way you set it up will depend on the size of your dog, and how concerned you are about liability, when the dog jumps.

Have someone come to the door and knock. When the dog is more focused and comfortable with what you're teaching, you can do away with treats.  For now, he's expecting treats, so it's important to at least take him through what you want him to do with treats to lure him into the game, and until you get to the point in the progression where he can get reinforcement from the person you're working with (if you're working with a person).  You probably won't need treats for this, as the reinforcement is the attention, but having Really Good Treats available will help, too. When you open the door, try to have the dog in a sitting position -- he'll probably break the sit immediately -- that's okay -- we can work on that, later. The object with this lesson is to teach that the dog only gets attention when all four feet (and his butt, if you desire) are on the floor.

​Note** It's helpful, while teaching these kinds of manners, to have the co-operation of guests. The easiest way I've found to do this is to post a notice on the front door, to the effect that "My dog is learning manners -- please refrain from touching him until all his feet are on the floor". Then -- ENFORCE IT. Don't allow others to undermine this -- it's unfair to your dog to try to teach your dog .

to behave a certain way if others are trying to lure him into another behavior (at least at first, when the new stuff is so new... this can be done later, after he's had a chance to internalize the set of behaviors).

​When the person comes through the door, try to have them immediately greet the dog with petting -- especially in the chest area -- before he launches. As the dog calms, have him sit. If the dog launches immediately, the person is to stand still, hands at sides, not looking at the dog. Give the command "Off!" As the dog becomes confused, his front feet will drop to the floor -- when they make contact, IMMEDIATELY give the attention he wants! If he launches again, once again stop the attention, as before, and give the command "Off!" Have the person go back outside for a few minutes. Use this time to have your dog practice some sits, to take his mind off the person. When they knock again, there should be improvement. Keep going through this scenario, until your dog calmly stands while you open the door and greet the newcomer. Try to arrange to do this Every Single Day, at least once -- you'll start to notice that the dog reacts this way with all guests -- he'll begin to respond more quickly.

Note: when you're working on this stuff, it's your job to make sure that your dog knows what you want, and that you like what he's offering.  You need to be comfortable in offering reinforcement... I do this several ways, depending on the situation.  With some dogs, you have all kinds of time to see what's coming with their behavior (they're slower than others)... with some dogs, you have to be a lot faster.  You know your dog better than I do, so you'll know better than me how fast you need to move.  And, I'm not a "purist"... I don't hold with using only one marker.  Some people feel that the dog will get confused if they have to look out for more than 1 marker... I think you can use everything you've got in the arsenal: hand gestures, food luring, verbal markers, the clicker... I throw it all at them, if they seem able to handle it.  You'll lean as they do.

​Practicing this with furniture is much easier -- bait the dog with a treat, to get him onto a piece of furniture. When he's up there, give the command "Off!", and lure him off the furniture -- when he gets down, give him another treat.  At first, give the cue "off" as soon as he gets up there, before he gets comfortable.  When he's more comfortable, laying down, maybe putting his head down, you can start waiting til he looks like he thinks the session is over before giving the "off" cue.  Then, throughout the day, you can practice this in different stages: ask for "off" in the middle of a good nap, or wake him up from a nap on the floor, lure him into position on the footstool and then back "off".  As he becomes proficient, you can begin using this in a variety of situations. Also, even if he's allowed on the furniture in your home, he may not be welcome on the furniture in other peoples' homes -- dogs CAN discern the difference between your furniture and someone else's -- a simple "Off!" will do the trick.​

Brenda Rushman, CCBC

 

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