My Pet World: Can jumping mean a dog is too dominant?

December 07, 2010|By Steve Dale

Today, dog trainer and author Tamar Geller will take a stab at some of your questions. Geller has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Today." Her latest book is "30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog: The Loved Dog Method" (Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books, New York, NY, 2010; $25.99). Geller also founded Operation Heroes and Hounds, a nonprofit that provides injured members of the U.S. military with the opportunity to coach and live with shelter dogs, many of which would otherwise have been euthanized. The program saves dogs' lives and enriches the spirits of our returning soldiers with a canine mascot at their side. Learn more at

Q: My Labrador retriever loves people but it seems like he always tries to dominate them. He jumps on people when they enter the house. Is this because he feels it's "his" house? What should I do? — L.K., Los Angeles

A: "Your dog is not trying to be dominant," says Geller. "What's love and joy have to do with dominance? Your dog is happy to greet people face to face, and jumping up is the best way to do it. Your dog is not attempting to dominate anyone."


Training your dog not to jump on people is remarkably simple, Geller notes. Begin by getting his attention with a treat or favorite toy. Before you offer the gift, ask your dog to sit.

Geller says your pooch will soon think, "I've trained my people to give me something really good when I sit after the doorbell rings."

In no time, every time the doorbell rings, your dog's automatic response will be to sit.

Meanwhile, ask guests to turn in the opposite direction of your dog when he starts to jump, and he'll stop. He only wants to greet them, which is fine, except you need to teach him good manners.

Q: My 8-year-old dog has a habit of looking behind her when we're out for a walk. She didn't do this when she was young. Why? — O.M., Prescott, Ariz.

A: Your dog wants to know where she's been? Well, probably not.

"Something may have happened, and it may have been pleasurable or could have been fearful, and she's still expecting whatever happened to recur," says Geller. "If you want to change the behavior, one of the three most important commands for any dog to learn is, 'Leave it.' ('Come' and 'Sit' are the others)."

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