I often say, “it’s easier to train the dogs than the humans”. It seems that no matter how hard we work to train our dogs the way we want them, some human is going to come along and try to undo all our hard work.
Humans run on emotions, and true pet lovers may possibly be more emotional than others. While it’s easy to get frustrated when someone doesn’t cooperate with the way we want to train our dogs, perhaps it would be easier if we try to understand where that human is coming from. Many people who love dogs want to pet and interact with every pet they meet. Most of them really do mean well, and maybe if we can put aside our own emotions of frustration and irritation when the attention is unwanted, we can get our point across better.
One problem I have run into with many of my dogs has been jumping on people. Our first Lab mix Maggie, and our golden retriever Sheba were the worst. Since they were large dogs, it’s more of a concern to me. People have many reasons they don’t want dogs jumping on them; they may be afraid (even I used to be like that in the past), don’t want their clothes dirtied, or have physical ailments that mean they could get hurt. No one wants their dog jumping on a child or an elderly person, so it’s important to train your dog not to jump.
The only problem with that is that there are a lot of dog lovers out there who don’t mind dogs jumping on them, and they are going to be sure to tell you that when you are instructing your dog not to jump on them! “It’s OK, I don’t mind…oh, hi, Fluffy, come on up! Just ignore your mean old Mom!”
Here’s a case in point, and a story I love to tell. Back when we had our Lab mix Maggie, we had our camper parked at a rustic campground that we loved. The owner of the campground was a younger man from the city and though he was very nice, he could be a bit arrogant at times. He tried to undo all the hard work we’d done to stop Maggie from jumping every time he stopped by our campsite to say hello (often with his own Lab, Baby). We were beating our heads against the wall trying to tell him not to let her, so we finally gave up.
One day, when Maggie was being exceptionally rambunctious, her head came up under his chin and clocked him a good one. Those of you who have had jumping dogs may have experienced this, I know I have, and it really hurts (another reason not to let dogs jump!). Reed was not impressed, and I’m pretty sure he got angry not just at Maggie but us as well! We probably just tried not to laugh, because let’s face it, he got just what he deserved.
However, it still shouldn’t have happened. We should have been more adamant about not letting him egg Maggie on. We did better with Sheba, and she eventually learned. The truth is, our Luke is a jumper too, but I haven’t worked with him on that yet, though I know I need to. Luke is extremely fearful of strangers, and since we can’t be sure he wouldn’t be afraid enough to bite, we don’t let him too close to anyone, so he couldn’t jump on them anyway.
When people come to our house, if Luke is not put in another room, they are told “don’t approach him, don’t look at him, don’t talk to him”. He can be OK if people keep their distance and he doesn’t feel threatened. I’ve found I have much more success with these instructions if the people that are here are not dog lovers. We have one contractor that seems just fine ignoring him, and it makes things easier (even though I get frustrated that he thinks Luke is protecting me, not just fearful). He doesn’t have dogs of his own so I suspect it’s easier for him. That’s because people who really love dogs want to look at Luke, talk to him, and pet him. I can’t really blame them for that!
While we deal with this more at home, those that are out walking and encountering people see it even more. Some people are just idiots, or arrogant like our campground owner. However, I’d like to think that most really do mean well.
After all, when my hubby is letting Luke in the kitchen while he’s cutting up fruit, he doesn’t mean to undo all my hard work of keeping Luke out of the kitchen. He just finds that cute face hard to resist, and even I slip up in that department sometimes. In the end, an occasional slip-up isn’t going to undo ALL of the hard work. If Luke creeps into the kitchen when I’m cooking, I must be tough and resist that cuteness. All I do is look at him, and he immediately moves to the hallway and lies down. He doesn’t forget his training, he just tries to push it sometimes.
It might require gentle reminders to my hubby, and a little more work on my part, but it keeps us all on top of things, and in practice.
This post is for my sister Karen. Both she and her hubby are guilty of not listening to my rules. She’s the one that reminds me that they mean well. They just want to love Luke like we do, and I completely understand that? I want that too, but it’s going to be a long, hard road. I am just as guilty of wanting to see him succeed and letting things go too far.
My point is, maybe we can try to be understanding of why people act the way they do. At the same time, be diligent, be persistent, and be adamant about what you need for your dog. Maybe just put your own emotions aside and deal with them later. The saying is true that we “can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.
That reminds me of the time an off-leash dog came running at Cricket and I when I was walking her once. Cricket went nuts, the dog’s person came running, and I apologized for Cricket. I didn’t need to, but the woman instantly was contrite and apologized herself. She realized her mistake, but perhaps if I had yelled at her, she would have got defensive. I didn’t let my anger at that woman out until later.
In the end, most true dog lovers will come to understand, and if you’ve taken a deep breath and at least tried to be patient, you might feel a little better too; and maybe people can get educated a little bit. There is plenty of time for venting later.
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Training the Humans”. How do we get strangers or even our own family members to help and not hinder with training?”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!
Anna @ HappyJackRussell says
I know exactly what you mean. It’s sometimes so hard trying to explain to people what, how and why I do or don’t do certain things in a certain way with my beautiful JRT Kala and not sound brash or rude after repeating the same thing for the nth time.
I guess that some people will get the point, others won’t and we just have to cope the best we can.
Thank you, Anna!
I think you are right about that. All we can do is keep trying, and hope that we are at least getting through to some of the people, and try to tolerate the rest!
This is a great post! It can be so hard to resist the cute faces. I always have to remind myself to ask before I pet dogs in public because I also want to run up to all of them and smother them with love if I don’t have the girls with me 😉 I also have a hard time getting Rye not to jump on people because she is so shy with new people that she usually ignores them completely so when she starts to jump up I’m usually so shocked that she wants to meet the person that I forget that we have training to do!
Forest Poodles says
Great advice! I know when I get stressed by an outside action ( unleashed dog, etc.) the poodles do too.
Sand spring Chesapeake says
Great post, I understand completely. And yes I would hug cricket up all day!!
Christine Caplan says
Such a great post – and while my dogs are smaller, jumping isn’t allowed in our house either. When people come over I have to give everyone treats and ask our dogs to each sit nicely in the first few minutes — it’s a great house rule and one that is easily ignored by folks. Like Luke –Walter isn’t always friendly so I keep him crated and then he greets folks I think are ok – with tons of treats. He DOES not like hard stares and sometimes people just want to start at him (lol!) in which case he barks and it’s a nervous bark, so that’s another rule. I agree –non dog lovers are easier to train and staring at Walter doesn’t seem to be an issue!
Well, I know I would have a hard time not staring at all that cuteness – LOL!
Keeping ours calm when people come over has always been such a challenge for me, and something I honestly didn’t think that much about (other than stopping the jumping) until Luke came along. It will be the rule for all new dogs going forward though – it’s just so much more pleasant for everyone when dogs aren’t jumping around and carrying on!
Jodi Stone says
It’s so hard to ignore them, although I’ve gotten much better. I did have a man stop Delilah and I on one of our walks and ask if he could pet her. It about broke my heart, because he told me he needed some ‘dog therapy’ as his dog had passed in February. Sadly, Delilah is not the dog who enjoys be petted by strangers, but she did tolerate it well, with me watching her closely!
I always make sure to thank people when they ask if they can pet the dog, and I do my best to ask as well.
It is hard to see the look of disappointment on some people’s faces when you have to tell them “no”, and it was nice of you to give that man a chance.
Cricket doesn’t love being petted by strangers, but I will let them try it while letting them know she’s “shy”. She’s pretty good about just turning and walking away if she wants nothing to do with it. LOL But at least maybe their feelings won’t be hurt if she does that. Heck, she’s hurt my feelings when I’ve sat down next to her and started petting her and she gets up and moves! The girl does not like her sleep disturbed. 🙂
Tenacious Little Terrier says
I actually prefer having people who are not dog people but can follow instructions exactly watch Mr. N vs having him watched by people who love dogs but are not great about following instructions. Makes me feel more at ease. There’s rules for a reason!
Everyone encourages small dogs to jump but usually they can be distracted by a Mr. N high five lol.
I think teaching them to high 5 is such a great alternative for them to have over jumping.
It’s true that the non-dog people are more likely to listen to your instructions, instead of wanting to do their own thing!
The majority of people I’ve met who are scared of dogs … are scared because at some point they encountered a dog who jumped on them and wouldn’t stop. I see it over and over again. The owners aren’t there at times – but when they are, they treat it as a funny joke. I saw my niece and nephew’s two neighbor dogs jump all over them. The owners thought it was cute. Until one of the farm cats lashed out at the dogs for getting too close to my nephew. Is is any wonder that my niece and nephew want a cat and not a dog? I can’t imagine how frustrating it is when you’re trying to train your dogs to act a certain way toward humans and others come and encourage the very behavior you’ve tried to rid them of. I see it with The Boy and Bear too. When Bear begs for one of his toys and I say no, The Boy gives it to him anyway. I’m trying to keep Bear from thinking all he has to do is act out to get his way … but when someone else in the house isn’t thinking of the implications, it gets very frustrating.
You are SO right about that. I didn’t like dogs when I was younger, and that was exactly the reason. I was exposed to out of control dogs that jumped, etc., and I thought all dogs were like that! Their people did not try to control them at all.
It is especially frustrating when there’s no cooperation in your own household, and they just don’t get that you’re doing what you are for good reason, not just to be mean!
I think there is something else going on and it is the American culture. Europeans love dogs just as much as Americans. In fact, they allow them in public transit, shops, restaurants, etc.
But Europeans do not generally go running up to strange dogs having to handle and play with them.
We recently spent some time with Swiss sailors and I was so pleased that Honey was PERFECTLY well behaved. It was so helpful that the couple admired Honey from afar but didn’t feel the need to hang all over her. To most Europeans, companion dogs have a job just like service animals. The job is to be calm and relaxed in public settings.
I bet Luke would thrive in Europe and without the worry of strangers trying to approach all the time, he might really surprise you.
I think you are probably right about Luke, and about the American mentality. I think we see the same kind of thing with children these days….allowed to be out of control because somehow teaching them to act nicely and thoughtfully is somehow breaking their spirit or something (can’t think of better wording…not sure why people don’t train their kids better these days either)!
Brian Frum says
We used to have two dogs here so we understand too. It really is tough to train a human!
Cathy Armato says
With a Husky, I can totally relate to the Jumping Up problem! Icy was the worst when she was young. We still need to reinforce it but she is much better. so many people would meet her, she’d jump all over them and they’d say “It’s ok, I don’t mind” I would say that I do mind, but you can’t really change people. Now when I see her getting too excited and I know she’s going to try to jump up despite my verbal warning, I step on her leash so she can’t jump more than a few inches. She gets the hint really fast!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
I’m glad you found something that works with Icy. I honestly don’t remember now how we finally got Sheba’s jumping under control (if I did, maybe I’d do better with Luke!).
Phew…I thought this article was about me! 😝
You’ve been very helpful with Luke….I just need to get you over here more to work with him. 🙂
The Island Cats says
I usually respect the wishes of the dog owner, always asking if it’s okay to pet their dog, etc. Except when I’m at BlogPaws. I figure if the dog is there, they want to be petted and loved on! 😉 ~Island Cat Mom
I agree about BlogPaws, and that’s the reason I’ll never be bringing one of my dogs there. LOL
I also always ask, and I’m especially impressed when children ask as well! There are some people out there doing it right and teaching their kids to also.
GROOVY GOLDENDOODLES says
I totally understand this post. I never wanted Harley to become a face licker. Olde Towne Pet Resort staff had a different plan. Because there were so many of them, and I wasn’t around all the time AND Harley was there everyday of the week while I was at work. I slowly but surely lost that battle #andthewar Now I have no control, and at this stage of our lives, if someone wants to be licked excessively – have at it!!!
Aw, licking is not so bad….I love to get a good slobbery dog kiss! 🙂
Melissa K. Clinton says
I understand how difficult it is for pet lovers not to pet all the dogs that they see. I don’t allow people to walk up and pet Bentley until he signals that he is okay with them. Both of the dogs try to jump on people who visit us and we don’t allow it. Once the initial excitement is over, they calm down. Great post!
Thank you! When we had Sheba, I would sometimes put her outside until people got in the house and settled in, then she’d be allowed to see them. Hopefully by that point, some of her excitement had worn off. 🙂
Yep, we’ve had similar problems with people undermining our efforts to calm Daisy down when people come in or when she meets new people outside. “Aww, don’t be so mean” they say, as we’re trying to treat-train her to stop being reactive/overly excited! Mean? With treats and “good girls”? Ugh – and some of them are dog owners too!
Other dog owners really are the worst. 🙂 Just because they have perfectly friendly and well behaved dogs, doesn’t mean we do. LOL
Your post is right on! It is hard to put our emotions aside. My past Labs have been typical jumpers, and I heard the “I don’t mind. I even like it.” thing from so many dog lovers who they interacted with.
Shyla is completely different. I have to say the same thing as you say about Luke (“Don’t look at her. Pretend she doesn’t exist. etc”). And, I have to protect her from off-leash dogs. Just the other day, we hiked in an area where dogs are supposed to be on-leash but many were not. One came toward Shyla like a laser-guided missile, and I stepped between him and Shyla to do a body block. There was nothing aggressive about him, and I was totally neutral in my body language. I was simply making a wall to help Shyla not become so scared. The person got mad at me! She said “He just wants to say hi to your dog.” I didn’t bring up the fact that her dog was off-leash illegally. I just said that my dog is afraid of other dogs so it’s better if you control your dog… I did keep my emotions mostly in check although I’m sure that I sounded a bit grumpy.
Over the years, I’ve concluded that being assertive with dog lovers is the hardest part of training a dog. I’ve learned with Shyla that I must insist that people behave a certain way. It’s actually easier to insist with Shyla acting afraid than it is with a dog who wants to jump all over the person and be petted…
Off leash dogs are the toughest. It irritates me when people can’t just follow the laws. We used to let our previous dogs off leash at times, but whenever we saw other people or dogs approaching, we put them back on leash. It was always in my hand.
I try to be careful even with on leash. I’ve been given some pretty dirty looks when I’ve told people it’s probably best if Cricket doesn’t greet their dogs. Like it’s the end of the world if their dog can’t meet another dog! Get a grip, people!
Monika & Sam says
Sam is a jumper and always has been. His previous owners encouraged it (grrr, are you nuts?). thankfully he only does it with me. When he’s excited (which is whenever he sees an upright), his tag is wagging so feverishly, I think he forgets. I know I’m guilty of being inconsistent about various commands around the house (being on the sofa for one) and try to do better. Luckily it’s not one of the things I absolutely will not tolerate and whenever they get up on the sofa, I can easily tell them to get down. Training is a 24/7 venture when it comes to dogs finding loopholes. I often wonder if they were lawyers in a previous life? 😇
Ha ha, you might be right about that! They are always going to try to push things and see how much they can get us to give in on. I think we all have the things we’re willing to give in on, and others that we are not. I don’t always make them sit for treats, but I never let them beg at the table.
Roby Sweet says
We have these problems in our house too. My dad & I work on teaching our Layla some boundaries (stay out of the kitchen, etc.), and Mom just lets her do whatever she wants. It’s because she thinks she’ll hurt Layla’s feelings by telling her no.
Some people are just too “nice” – I have family like that too! 🙂
You have to respect what the dog owner trains. We are all jumpers and Mom likes us to jump on her, so we will stay jumpers. We have other rules we like people to respect, but for some reason, humans have problems doing that.
That’s right…why can’t people just understand and respect how we all want to train our dogs? I don’t mind Luke jumping on me sometimes too, part of the reason I haven’t trained it out of him yet. He will give “hugs and kisses” which hubby and I both like. And I love his exuberance and excitement when I get home from work. I just need him to be a little gentler….I could do without the bruises and scratches!
I understand… we just have this case with my parents :o) and I felt the pain while reading when dog-head-meets human-chin…. ;o)