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Jumping/Licking Locating a Trainer Marking Overcoming Fears

Dear Sue,


I have two beagles who both love people and are extremely warm and friendly. One of them, however, when people are in our home, will try to jump into their face to lick them. She'll do this when they first come into our home, but also throughout their stay. If anyone gives her attention, she tries to get in their face.

She does not do this to our family members, as we reinforce it as an unacceptable behavior by leaving her and walking away, only rewarding her when she sits. Strangers, however, don't do that, and once she realizes that they won't push her away or leave her alone, she jumps all over them. It's very frustrating as a dog owner. I want my dogs to be a blessing, not an annoyance to my friends. How can I help her transfer her manners to strangers?


Signed, Overwhelmed by Beagle kisses.



Dear Overwhelmed,


I understand why you're frustrated, and I have to say it sounds as if you have her under control at home with the family members; good for you! That's the first big step. But, it sounds as though your guests don't understand that this problem could get worse if something's not done about it (please see the italicized part of your letter). Your beagles have learned that they are not to jump up and lick at home with your family members, but guests are "fair game," since the guests don't enforce the "no jump" rule, and it is ultimately confusing the dog.  This is where your job as "enforcer" comes into play. 

Here are some tips that will help:

* If you know that someone will be coming over, plan ahead and have the dog on-leash; this way you can control her behavior. You will make her sit and wait to be greeted. If she starts to jump up on the guest, correct her with a firm "No" and have her sit again. If she complies, give her calm praise and allow her to be petted. If she doesn't comply, then she's put into her "safe place," e.g., crate or a room by herself. 

Please understand that putting her in a crate is not a punishment; you say nothing to the pup, just calmly walk her to the area and put her there, then walk away. You're telling the pup that you will not tolerate this behavior. After about five minutes, go get her, put her back on the leash and try again. Be patient, you could have to do this multiple times; the key is to be consistent. It will also help greatly if you have the guest bend down to pet the dog before the dog has a chance to jump. 

* For those unexpected guests (when you don't have time to put the dog on leash), inform them that the dog is in training, and ask them to please not touch her if she jumps. If they say "Oh, I don't mind," you say, "But other people might, and if you pet her when she jumps, it's going to confuse her." If they still allow it, then ask the person to sit on the floor with the dog. You'll be amazed at how many people will agree to not touch the dog while standing/sitting in a chair. 

* Arrange training sessions with the dog. Have someone (a neighbor, friend, or family member) "stop by," then be ready with the leash and work on "sit politely for petting."

* Leave the leash on the dog while your guests visit. You'll be able to correct her immediately and take the responsibility away from their having to correct her. 

* Here's a little info on the licking part of it: dogs are pack animals (even more so with beagles), and licking is a submissive act. If your dog is an excessive licker, you may want to do some confidence building exercises, such as playing tug and sometimes "letting her win," and playing hide-and-seek (this one's great fun, especially if the reward for finding you is a treat!).

Remember,  be consistent!


- Sue