I recently posed a question about excitable greetings on the Facebook page that was started for those of us raising puppies from the same litter (the one that included Kyndall). Every dog that Steve and I have ever raised has been excessively excitable when greeting people (or other dogs. Or in some cases, any living thing.) Such greetings are annoying. Maybe some folks enjoy being jumped on by an adorable 15-pound ball of fur. But by the time that puppy weighs more than 50 pounds, it’s really annoying.
A couple of the people raising Kyndall’s siblings responded to my question, but the advice that captured my imagination came from Kat Greaney, who has Kihei. She responded, “For jumping I start with having people completely ignore her if she is jumping… If she doesn’t “get” it from [being ignored], they can take one step into her to cause her to become off balance. Then back to ignoring her. Once she is sitting, then they can pet her. If she moves from the sitting position, back to ignoring.”
I asked: should the puppy be told to sit, while being ignored in this manner, and Kat said answered, “No command, no speaking at all. Not even looking at the puppy. As soon as their butt hits the floor, mark with a yes they can pet as a reward. If their butt comes off the floor, back to completely ignoring.” She added, “We are boring to puppies if we stand there with no interaction. They quickly learn butt on floor equals attention.”
Inspired by this advice, I emailed everyone in our Friday night movie group, which gathers in the condo of a friend who graciously welcomes our CCI puppies. I asked everyone to try giving Kyndall the cold shoulder the next time we gathered.
Everyone cooperated, and it seemed to be astoundingly effective. Confronted with each person’s back, Kyndall just… popped down into a sit. I had to react quickly to everyone that they could turn around and reward (i.e. pet) her. It seemed like magic.
We’ve been trying to continue this regime in the days since Friday. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But at other times, it looks as if Kyndall understands what we want her to do. The question that naturally arises: can we train the humans who interact with her to keep it up (including us)? Hope springs eternal.
Here’s what it looks like when she gets it right: