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I volunteer at a local dog (and cat) shelter. Part of what I do is help train dogs so that they are more attractive to potential adopters. Volunteers are assigned to dogs, and I tend to get assigned to the largest, most rambunctious dogs because I am one of the few male volunteers, and I am used to handling bigger dogs (I have two large dogs at home). I only see "my" dog three or four times a week--once for a group training session with a local dog trainer, and then a few other--whenever I can get over there. While I have pretty good success getting the dogs to learn basic commands, one thing I am having trouble with is getting them not to jump up when someone enters their pen. This jumping behavior tends to dissuade people from adopting these dogs.

While in the pen, the dogs wear no collars or harnesses of any time. Most of the time, the dogs I work with jump up extremely aggressively. This is not a negative aggressiveness, just a very very excited reaction to having someone enter their pen--usually to feed them or take them out for exercise. My approach has been to approach and enter the pen as calmly as possible, to the point of not even greeting the dog or making eye contact. Once in the pen, the dog immediately begins jumping up. I ignore the dog, standing with arms folded, looking off into the distance waiting for the dog to get four on the floor. My current dog is a 7-month old, 70 lab mix, and he is a handful. It can take a good 5-10 minutes for him to calm down enough to respond to positive feed back and the sit command so I can put his harness on. Once I get him outside, he is great to work with, and is making great progress with commands such as come, sit, heel, walking on lease without pulling, etc. He used to bite his harness when I would try to put it on him, but he has now learned that if he does that, I will leave and there will be no walk. It killed me to do that a couple times, but it worked.

There's no doubt that the shelter is a stressful environment--particularly when someone enters the pen area (the dogs go crazy!). I can walk through there now without any of the dogs barking by projecting a very calm and confident demeanor, but my dog still gets really amped up when he sees me because he knows I will be taking him out.

I would love to be able to work with these dogs every day, but that isn't possible. Given that, I really want to find a more effective way of modifying this jumping behavior to maximize their chances of being adopted quickly.

Any help would be appreciated.
 

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My first thought is to preempt the jumping up before it even starts by giving the dog a command from outside the pen, and working toward having him hold that command while you enter. Do they have dog beds in their pens? You could train a "go to bed" command, and copiously reward the dog for sticking with it while you come through the door.

I'd start by training this AFTER the dog has already had his walk, so the dog can focus on learning rather than the initial excitement of seeing you. At that point you could go in and out of the pen so many times that it becomes routine and boring. Only once he's got the behavior solidly down at a less exciting phase of the session would I start asking for this behavior on arrival, too.

This is an awesome thing you're doing for this dogs - great work, man.
 

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This is actually fairly simple.

Cross your arms and turn away, remain calm.
Do not speak to the dog.
Be a post.
When the dog begins to settle, then you can give praise and reward.

For the more insistent jumpers.....after the above fails...then you can assume a different position.
Palms out, arms straight towards the dog, remain calm. This forms a blocking posture.
Do not speak to the dog. Be a post.
Don't move, resist moving.
When the dog begins to settle, then you can give praise and reward.

Posts are not very interesting to dogs. These postures deny the dog the attention it seeks.

Eventually, you should be able to augment the above with a command such as...Off, Sit, No. Resist using the Down command. The Down could make learning to lie down on command more difficult.

Teach these 2 postures to prospective adopters.
 

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You being calm is very important, but also make sure you are waiting for the dog to be calm (or at least calm enough to remain reasonably under self control) If the dog starts jumping on the door as you begin to open it, stop & wait for 4 on the floor before beginning again.

Then, progress to opening the door just a few inches, stick your hand in & toss treats to the back of the kennel area (or onto the dog's bed, if he has one?) Continue to toss treats AWAY from yourself so the dog starts to understand that the most rewarding place to be when someone approaches or enters the kennel is away from the person.

When you get in, don't wait for the dog to get in contact with your body (at which point, yes, you must stand tall & ignore) but since the act of jumping & touching you is self-rewarding for the dog, you must try to interrupt the sequence & reward the dog before he jumps. Again - toss treats away from you. When the dog turns back towards you after eating the treats, let him take one step & then toss more. After a few of these, he should start to slow down & then (once his brain is back in his head) you can work on cueing a 'sit' or other calm behaviors.

Also, work on teaching a 'touch' cue (nose to hand) This can help direct the dog's attention away from a full-on body contact & into a more controlled physical encounter.
 
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