QUESTION:
How do I get my dog to stop jumping on the counter?
 
 
ANSWER:
With every problem there are a few ways of approaching it.
I could fixate on the problem and pay attention to the fact that the dog jumps on the counter. When I do that my human mind only wants to “fix” the problem. Because my awareness is only on my dog jumping, I tend to ignore the many times that my dog is not jumping on the counter. In this scenario I do not build much of a relationship, I tend to get frustrated, and I do not benefit from other behaviors learned. 
 
My typical first attempt to get rid of a problem behavior does not involve force, yelling, squirt bottles because of the other possible unwanted behaviors that pop up in it’s place. Instead, I use our main tool, the human brain, to find ways to prevent the dog from practicing the behavior and rewarding itself (called management), while I teach the dog an alternative behavior or two.
 
See, your relationship with your dog is the most important thing to me. I would try to coach you with a toolbox filled with proven training practices that are not a mixture of reward-based and tradition-based methods. In fact, a mixture of those two methods have proven to be least effective. Yes, a household that uses inconsistent communication to “fix” a problem behavior actually creates a confused dog. If you don’t believe me listen to your dog. The dog will show it when the requested behavior isn't understood ... creating a nagging situation. Creating a dog that still jumps, especially when you are not in the kitchen.
 
Whatever you do, don't loose your patience, simply call for some guidance!
My personal approach with my own dogs consists of this important first step:
First, I would not let my dogs practice jumping on the counter. The act of rehearsing the problem or worse ... jumping and actually getting something of value is what I would avoid at all cost.  So instead of thinking about “fixing” the problem, I think of what I’d like my dog to do when I’m in the kitchen. I start teaching a behavior of relaxing and staying away from the counters. It is not a band aide approach. It’s one that is more rewarding and applicable to other situations.
 
I like to train other behaviors that compete with the unwanted one because I get a desired behavior out of an undesired behavior. It’s a win-win for both of us and my dog builds confidence and understanding. And boom ... a more rewarding relationship starts to emerge! 
 
Here is Quinn and Tayt rehearsing what I’ve taught them when I’m in the kitchen. I’ve taught Quinn (almost 9 years old) and Tayt (16 months) that laying down when I am in the kitchen is the best valued behavior by rewarding their choices. Their choice to jump up is not being practiced and has never been one to choose. I eliminated it from their world by never letting them do it.
 
So you say:  “But I have a dog that has had the opportunity to experience the WOW that counter surfing provides.”
 
That experience may be close to that gambler playing the slot machines. I would still approach the problem the same way. Through management I would be able to teach a new behavior that pays just as much or better than jumping on the counter. Your part in this is to not be greedy and be generous with the rewards for choosing the behavior you desire. All too often the opportunity to jump is still worth it because the WOW hasn’t transferred to your desired behavior.
 
Sure it takes time!  Doesn’t everything that matters the most?  We are not dealing with a piece of electronics, we are dealing with an opportunistic animal who is self-absorbed in getting what is rewarding in every moment. 
 
The method I used with Tayt and Quinn are based on the scientific principles of learning theory. However, if your desires are different then mine, I am always willing to use other techniques, as long as they are both effective and humane.
Believe it or not, training your dog isn’t tough, it's actually fun! 
Let me help you teach your dog what you want. Let me help you choose good motivation and communication system that is consistent for the whole family. 
Thanks for reading. Obviously there is more, but this is a great starting point.
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Nicole Martinez shared a status

Gail had great advice to help us get our fearful Uli into the car without him freaking out so much! We still have a long way to go but as least traveling got easier!

student stars

  • studentstars brewster

    OWNER: Maggie Brindell-Watt 
    I have to tell you we went to our Neighborhood Christmas Party and I was singing your praise.  Many of my neighbors that walked by our house daily commented on how well Brewster is behaving.  They were impressed when he barked at them and I can come out and tell him to be quite and he actually does listen to me.  So, in general they were just impressed at how well he is behaving for such a young dog.  So, I just wanted to say "thank you" for helping us, couldn't have done it without your help. We still have a lot of work to do but we are on the right track.

  • studentstars roux

    OWNER: Cindy Hartman  
    "Gail, thank you VERY MUCH for reviewing our runs from last weekend, your comments were very helpful! You make some great points. I appreciate your keen eye and willingness to help us become a better team! Can't wait for class on Thursday!"
    Cindy

  • studentstars rigel

    OWNER: Susan McKenzie
    Rigel (2 ½ yr old black and white retriever/hound mix) took basic manners class and Pedals (6 mo old brindle lab/pit mix) attended both the puppy and basic manners class at A Good Dog’s Life  When people visit our home, I often receive compliments on how well behaved my dogs are.  They do not try to counter surf and I can ask them to stay on their beds to get out from under foot.  I am a strong believer in challenging dogs physically and mentally and intend to take further classes at A Good Dog’s Life.  They both enjoy it.

  • studentstars elke

    OWNER: Tanya Alstott 

    I was happy with the content of the class.  I think these type of puppy class are limited in what you can expect out of your dog, mainly due to age and the inability to focus for any length of time.  Socialization was my main goal and I feel like Elke got that from the class.

  • studentstars sky

    OWNER: Peggy and Bob Dellinger 
    Gail, WE loved class today. I had read most of the book "tracking from the ground up" but boy you made lots more sense then the book!

  • studentstars franklin

    OWNER: Lisa Wester 
    You are Wonder Woman Dog Trainer. My son and I did a short session with Franklin today. Did not jump any. We did five or six meet and greets. Michael did three short walks and Franklin behaved very well letting Michael pet him.
    Hope to do a session Fri and Sun.
    Thanks so much!

  • studentstars eiko

    OWNER: Anna Ferguson, Vibrant Heart Yoga www.vibrantheartyoga.com 
    Eiko and I have had great fun learning with Gail from A Good Dog's Life. We have done classes at her wonderful facility and also some private lessons. I am always impressed by Gail's knowledge, patience and obvious love for dogs. Her training tips and handouts were crucial for great puppy training, and we really enjoyed our puppy classes. We now have a wonderfully well-behaved, intelligent dog that is our best friend! I recommend her all the time to new puppy owners to get started on the right paw!

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A Good Dog's Life

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Asheville NC 28806
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