I recently worked with a Black Labrador dog teaching owners how to change the dog from obsessively jumping up and at people, and also mouthing & biting their hands & arms, to becoming calmer & more respectful of people.

At fourteen months of age the dog was becoming out of control at home when visitors were present, and his owners decided something had to be done before things became worse and the behaviours transitioned into adulthood and therefore ingrained into longer term habits. Such dogs can be very strong and overpowering for people when they are at a heightened state hormonally, they will struggle to control themselves and need their owners to be in control of their own emotional state of mind.

Having high levels of Testosterone, as well as becoming addicted to the actions of rushing at people then jumping at and up at them, plus using their mouths to control people is not an easy set of behaviours to change unless we understand that we must be calmer than the dog. If we are more frustrated than the dog, then we will find it very difficult to provide the guidance the dog requires.

People will also often reward the dog by giving them food treats, affection and also vocal affirmations such as ‘Be a good boy’, which are all inappropriate and as the owners stated do not work. I have often worked with people who have been advised to use food treats when these behaviours are occurring, whereas that is rewarding the dog for the behaviours we do not want. Food rewards can be used if you are getting the correct response from the start, so be mindful to gain control first without rushing in to reward the dog.

Dogs displaying these actions are using a lot of physicality, and this means you need to take into account this can be quit rewarding for them, and allowing this to persist is a recipe for disaster as someone is likely to be injured eventually, if it hasn’t already happened before behaviour guidance begins. Teach your puppy not to do these behaviours, and you will have better decisions from your adolescent dogs, which also helps them moving into the adult stage of their young lives.

Allowing dogs to use their body and teeth on people is unacceptable, and it is your responsibility to stop this and guide your dog to behave in ways that benefit them and everyone else they are within the vicinity of. Owners can be prosecuted, and dogs can be ceased if deemed dangerously out of control and this must be taken into consideration if you have a dog under your guardianship.

Someone recently said this to me about their three year old female Labrador dog who was jumping at people and mouthing their hands & arms ‘We hope she’ll just grow out of it’. This is absolutely ridiculous, why would a dog grow out of behaviours that they enjoy doing?

Here are some basic points to consider if your dog is displaying such traits at home:

– Do not allow the dog to ‘Meet & greet’ who they want to.

– Use a lead on your dog to maintain space away from people that your dog is likely to be out of control to.

– Tether your dog somewhere safe and within your vision so they can see you and you can see what they are doing, allow adequate space for them so they are not encroached upon by people and given time to calm down.

– If your dog is responding well you can use food rewards, affection and vocal confirmations but be mindful of not creating excitement for them when doing any of those.

– Share with people before they come to your home the points you are working on to help your dog to become calmer and more respectful to people, as that will help you to not have to explain it all when they are inside your home and working with your dog. People may go against the actions you are taking and you may have to consider asking them not to visit as this is for the benefit of you, your dogs and other people.

Imagine if these potentially dangerous behaviours are not controlled, you could have a serious problem on your hands with your dog removed and a large fine coming your way so don’t take the chance and help your dog to be calmer and enjoy their lives.