I have a 2 year old Staffordshire Terrier. He is very affectionate, very sweet with people and also happy around other dogs. The only problem is controlling him when visitors come to our place. He jumps at them and when we have kids around, they get scared of him. He wants to play and is very playful but sometimes I feel that it is too much with children around. He also starts panting non-stop as if he is thirsty, but does not drink water. I was first told to use the Pet Corrector air spray but this only stopped him for a few seconds and then he would resume jumping again. At the moment, I have no option but to put him in a separate room when visitors come, but he cries and I feel sorry for him and don’t know what to do. I hope you can help.
This is a very common issue amongst dog owners. Let me first give you a little bit of an overview over why he does jump and then I will then move on to the solution.
This problem usually starts during puppyhood. They are small, cute and irresistible. They usually greet you and your guests by jumping up, but because they are small and we are also excited about having a new pup at home, we don’t mind and we allow that to happen. We also add to that excitement by lifting him up and allowing him to lick our face. All pups are sweet and after all, who can say no to a puppy? And then in a couple of months when he has grown in size and weight, we realise just how dangerous this has become and we start shouting at him, or trying to stop him in any other way. However, the only crime he has committed is that he has grown. The dog becomes confused, what is going on? You allowed me to jump on you, lick your face and you even participated in this activity by saying “oh you are so sweet”. Your guests also said “it’s okay, we love dogs – he is only a puppy.” They even made me over-excited and I dashed around the house like a crazy man and everybody laughed. Is that not a bit unfair?
Now, what do you have to do? We need to go back to the basics, try this once:
Before your guests arrive, exercise your dog enough to tire him out. You have heard the saying “a tired dog is a good dog”. Your dog’s overexcitement is the result of both a lack of discipline and also pent up energy. He needs to exercise regularly to release his energy, so that when he comes home he can rest. He will then associate home with relaxation and will learn to release his excess energy outside of the house. As for exercise, running madly around a park, however fun it is, is not an appropriate tool to release his energy. This will only make him more excited and more importantly, you have no contribution. Walk with him in a structured manner next to you. A dog backpack is a very good tool to get him in the zone of a working dog and also allows him to burn the energy faster. You can also bike with him – this is a fantastic and fun activity to do together, as dogs love it when they get into the zone and can run happily. This is different to running in the dog park and helps you and your dog to establish a good bonding relationship, where he learns to follow you and you learn to take the lead.
Even now your dog is tired, when guests visit you and ring the bell, your dog most certainly will exhibit the same reaction. After all, he has done this for the last two years and he does not know any other way. Try to be calm, let your guests know that you are training him, don’t yet open the door, put his leash on and ask him to sit and stay away from the door. Try to open the door now and if he moves, close the door and repeat the same exercise over and over again, until he behaves how you would like. Remember, the key here is patience, consistency and repetition. When he is calm and in a sit-and-stay position, open the door and ask your guests to ignore him by not making any eye contact, by not talking to him or touching him. Remember that you are not ignoring him, but you are ignoring the excitement. On the leash, allow him to come calmly and slowly to greet your guests by smelling them. This is natural and dogs do that. Ask your guests to stand still until he is done sniffing. If you have completed all these steps correctly, a beautiful thing will happen; he will turn around and go away.
You and your guests may pet him only when he is calm. Keep him on the leash and if he gets excited, remove him and ask him to sit and stay away from your guests.
I hope this helps.