Sandwich (named by our 5-year-old) is a wonderful and fun addition to our family. He fits right in and completes us. He is well-mannered, a quick learner, and is super snuggly and goofy. He has a unique and special relationship with each of us, and it’s fun to see how that plays out.
When we adopted him three months ago, it was clear that he viewed our 5-year-old as his very own puppy playmate. They love to wrestle and roughhouse together, and our human kiddo really enjoys it. We struggled for a bit with Sandwich being mouthy as they played, but that was quickly rectified with the introduction of the shake can.
Our biggest hurdle at the moment is that when we’re playing outside off leash, he will sometimes jump up unexpectedly and, due to his size and strength, knock the kiddo over. Because we struggle to anticipate when it is going to happen, and it happens so quickly, we have found that the shake can is not as effective. We worry that when COVID is over and he gets to socialize more with other kids, he may do this to someone else or hurt our little guy.
Do you have any advice on different tools or strategies we can use to stop the unanticipated jump/take-down? We’ve also been training our child as much as we have been Sandwich, and understand that this is just as much a part of the process.
Dear family of Sandwich,
Congratulations on your new four-legged family member, and thank you for being a dog saving adopter. And tell your son he picked a great name, one I’ve never heard before! And at this point, that’s very rare. The solution to Sandwich’s jumping needs to start with the adults. Multiple times a day Sandwich needs to be called to come, indoors and out. The moment he arrives he needs to see your flat hand rise from your hip to your chin as he hears you say “Sit.” Most of the time he gets a tiny treat the moment his butt hits the floor or ground. This is the process of conditioning him to sit automatically (as opposed to jumping) when he gets to a person. If he jumps or starts to jump, that very instant you see the jump is coming, with an unhappy snarl on your face turn to the side saying “Uh-uh.” If he stops the jump or pops off your hip and quickly sits, turn back to him with a smile and praise. I believe no domestic animal reads the body language and voice intonation of humans better than the dog. The timing is critical, the split second you see Sandwich’s unwanted behavior about to present, your frowning face coupled with your negative, uninviting body language — immediately followed with a smile and praise the moment he complies and sits, will work wonders. Training a dog is letting the dog know you like the behavior or you don’t as the behavior is happening. If I’m repetitive about timing, it’s because it’s the “key.” At the same time as you’re working on the “come with and auto sit” I suggest you have your 5-year-old Sandwich namer enjoy the training with you. Have him call Sandwich for an auto-sit and follow with a treat. He might love doing the training. Stop saying sit (a 5-year-old’s friends aren’t going to be saying sit) and just use the hand signal as soon as you can, with the goal of it becoming a habit for Sandwich to sit when he gets to a person.
Good luck and happy training.