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Ask the Trainer – Tamar Geller

Trainer Tamar GellerTamar Geller
Celebrity Dog Trainer

Q: My dog can be a little overly affectionate to guests. There is a lot of jumping and licking. I’ve tried to be stern with her, but I welcome that type of greeting whenever I come home, so I’m sure I am sending mixed messages. 
Any recommendations?

A: I’m so familiar with this situation, as my Jack Russell mix, Cricket, is a love bug who jumps and kisses anyone that comes into my home.

We all—people and dogs—evaluate life based on pleasure vs. pain. So you want to teach your dog that when she jumps on people, it will not be a pleasurable experience, because those guests will turn away from her. Nobody likes to get the cold shoulder.

Begin by calling her to you, and reward her for coming with an amazing treat she does not usually get (like a tiny piece of chicken) and ask her to sit. When she does, reward her with the treat—now that’s a pleasurable experience. The guests merely become the cue for her to come over to you, sit, and get a special treat. Sit, and get a treat. How fun is that? When she again tries to say “Hi” to your guests, repeat the above. Quickly she will realize that going to the guests is “pain,” as she is ignored, and when she comes to you, it’s “pleasure.”

The next thing is to teach her to “leave it,” and to ask her to do so when she kisses your guests. “Leave it” is used when you want her to not touch a person or an item. It’s easy and fun to teach.

Take a few treats and hold them in your left hand, the “storage hand” as I call it. With your right hand take one treat, put it on the floor, and cover it with your right hand.

Say absolutely nothing. Your dog will sniff it or maybe even paw at it in an attempt to get the treat. Still say nothing.

But, the moment she looks away, say “Leave It” in a happy voice and give her the treats in your storage hand. Use both hands to give the treats, so the treat on the floor is exposed.

If she goes for the treat on the floor that is now exposed, quickly cover it again with your right hand. Do not say “No.” Simply reward her every time she looks away from the treat on the floor with a happy “Leave it.” At no point should your dog get the treat that is on the floor.

After a few times of saying “Leave it,” say “No more,” pick up the treat from the floor, and start all over again. Have fun!

For more detailed explanations on teaching the above commands and much more, check out Tamar Geller’s book, 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog.   

ABOUT the Trainer
Known as Oprah’s favorite dog trainer and the dog guru to the stars, Tamar Geller has far more to offer than star power to her many followers. She provides genuine insight and passion for the well-intentioned guardian at wit’s end trying to understand a lovable dog’s unlovable behavior. Her signature method, The Loved Dog, aims to transform the dog and person both by building rapport between them. Seeing her mission as far more than training dogs to be obedient, Geller prefers being called a life coach for people and dogs.

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