Jumping dogs – Pet podcast #13 – Interview with Doug Simpson of Tenderfoot training
Pet podcast #13 focuses on an interview with Doug Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. In the interview we talk about problems and solutions for dealing with dogs that jump on their owners and guests that come to the door. Doug’s training techniques are extremely creative, non-aggressive and based on love and respect for your dog. We even get into the concept of praising your dog with whispers instead of the usual high pitched voice. Tenderfoot Training has put out a HIGHLY recommended video that you can choose to purchase as well. You can download this pet podcast directly by clicking the preceding link or listen to it almost immediately, with the embedded player below.
Please note that this is an audio transcription. grammar and punctuation may not be perfect.
Marko Kulik: Hi there everyone and welcome to the thirteenth Pet Podcast on Pets.ca. My name is Marko. We are coming to you from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and today is March 12, 2007. For today”s show, we are lucky enough to have Doug Simpson from Tenderfoot Training as an interview on our show. Doug and Elizabeth run tenderfoottraining.com. This is the third time that they are on our show. They are our resident experts on the bulletin board and today Doug is actually going to talk about jumping and it is a common problem that people have with their dogs, either the dogs jump on themselves or they jump on neighbors or guests that come to the door. So we are very pleased to have some very practical solutions and we are going to get into the interview right now.
So I would like very much to welcome Doug Simpson today to our show. Doug is one of our experts on the Pets.ca bulletin board and he and his wife, Elizabeth, run Tenderfoot Training together. It is now I believe their third time on our show, so I would like to welcome him once again. Welcome Doug, it is nice to have you on the show again.
Doug Simpson: Well thank you very much, Marko. I enjoy being here.
Marko Kulik: Excellent, excellent and we definitely enjoy having you. Unlike previous times where we talked a lot about general information, today we are going to get a bit specific and we are going to talk about jumping. I know that this is a problem that you guys and many trainers see all the time.
Doug Simpson: It is a very common problem. There is jumping on yourself or the guardian of the dog, there is also jumping on other people, and there is a few different ways on how to correct it but basically it can be a problem especially if it is a real big dog.
Marko Kulik: Yeah, especially if it is a real big dog and no doubt that would be a big problem. I was wondering if you could tell us straight off the bat what preventive techniques could you use in order to stop dogs for jumping or dissuade them from jumping?
Doug Simpson: There are many things people do without realizing their body language has a lot of impact, a lot of understanding to the dog. One thing is people like to stare at the dog, so if they are looking at a dog to approach, they are looking right into their eyes, at their face and eye contact is a conversation to that animal, so it is engagement. One thing is do not make eye contact and also bending over to greet a dog is invitational body language also. When a person just stands bent over they are basically inviting the dog to jump up at them. The first part is trying to create success and actually, instead of having to correct the problems on some dogs you can just start by creating success and maybe have the person stop five feet away and not look at the dog and stand tall and get a little closer and just pet the dog when they are on the ground like four on the floor and then we can pet it. They start to jump, you straighten up and disengage.
Marko Kulik: That way, of course, we are rewarding the quiet good behavior as opposed to the jumping behavior.
Doug Simpson: Exactly.
Marko Kulik: Makes absolute perfect sense and yet I think a lot of people do not do it that way, they just have reverse logic. They are not sure of what they are doing and they are actually causing the dogs to jump, inadvertently.
Doug Simpson: Exactly. Energy also feeds into these animals, whatever energy is around them. A person that comes up with, “Hey! How are you doing?!” type of an attitude, real energetic, then that energy also feeds into the dog to help with that. It is being calm, kind of not really looking at the dog and just having your upright position so that you are just overall general nature is not engaging with that animal.
Marko Kulik: The owners really need to be aware of both their own body language as well as the body language of their dogs.
Doug Simpson: Right and what I try to teach people is to catch things in the dog when they have a thought of jumping, in this example, as opposed to when the action is already happening. It is much easier to catch things early, just like a big ball rolling down a hill of momentum before the action is taking place. It is catching early, early signals.
Marko Kulik: I am wondering, I am sure all kinds of people are making all kinds of mistakes and I am wondering if you could — errors that people make like we said that actually encourage the jumping, can you expand on that a little bit more?
Doug Simpson: Oh, certainly. There are many things, eye contact I have mentioned, too much energy is one of them, bending over to engage the dog is another one, and the other things are a lot of people have a dog and if the dog starts to jump they will just push the dog off of their body and any time you do that it is basically engagement with that dog. Pushing that dog off is a total game of engagement and they want to come right back and do it again. There are also a lot of people, especially bigger dogs, again if the dog starts to jump they take a step backwards. Some people are taught to turn their back on the dog. Turning your back is basically disengagement from the dog and that can work but a lot of times when a person steps away or turns their back, it can also empower the dog because they thought they moved you backwards.
Marko Kulik: So, again it is a leadership thing where they are encroaching in your space, they are kind of acting like the leader?
Doug Simpson: Yeah, you are backing away from that dog and respecting their space and the other thing a lot of people try to do is knee the dog, which is hard to do for timing. It is hard to catch them right. It is also can be very painful and very rude and basically our philosophy in everything we do is do enough to get results without ever causing pain, but you do as little as possible just like you want someone to do with you. You try to create success and then you do certain little things that will help that dog to respect your space.
Marko Kulik: Could you give us an example of something that might be a good thing to try if you have this problem, let us say, with a very big dog?
Doug Simpson: Sure. One thing is catching your dog early before the momentum starts. Most dogs except a couple of little tiny ones like Jack Russells or so few dogs can basically go vertical, boing, boing, boing, go straight up in the air. The dog has to shift their weight, lean back, lift the front end, lie on the front end before they can go up. When you see that first little shift in weight, if the human catches him really early like that by taking about a three inch step forward, a little tiny boom in your foot, a little startle sound, not a big one, just a little energy in your foot, foot stomp and then take your hand straight down towards the dog but the key is, is to stop your hands abruptly with energy. That energy should stop your dog especially and the startle of your foot if you catch him early without ever even touching him.
Marko Kulik: Just so we are getting the best information possible, the hand movement is toward the dog? Is it an up and down movement?
Doug Simpson: It is, say from your chest to your waist, right towards the dog”s face and it stops quickly or abruptly. Think of this, a hand to your face that stops suddenly is a head jerker or an eye blink. It is that energy even if it is six inches away.
Marko Kulik: So we are crystal clear, we are not at all actually putting our hands on the dog, we are stopping just before the dog.
Doug Simpson: Right. You go towards the dog and six inches before their face, you stop your hands quickly. That energy from your from hand will stop your dog along with your startling foot stomp and at the same time you say, “Off!” It is very startling, very quick and short and sharp, “Off!”
Marko Kulik: It is like you say, it is very humane, there is no actual contact being made, although the knee, you put out your knee and the dog jumps into your knee, although that may work, again there is actually no contact in this. If you are not making contact, that might be a better alternative if possible.
Doug Simpson: Well, there is no contact; however, this works for great majority of dogs especially if you catch them early. Let us talk about little things that go wrong for different dogs.
Marko Kulik: Right.
Doug Simpson: When you stop your hands, your hands need to stop and they should be very firm like a board. If that dog continues to jump, their nose will land or hit right on the bottom of my hand, which is totally still.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Doug Simpson: If my hand is firm, they will just hit that and not go anywhere. I am not going after the dog in any way, I am just playing basically self-defense so when I stop quickly with my hand, it stays there for a second if the dog is trying to jump and they will jump right into your hand, flat hand, very firm hand.
Marko Kulik: That of course is — I mean you are not striking the dog. The dog is jumping into your hand but yet it is obviously not pleasurable for the dog so after a few times, the goal of course is that he learns very quickly to stop jumping.
Doug Simpson: Right. I give him the first choice, remember the rule of thumb, do enough to get results, do little as possible. First choice is try to just totally be successful by not looking at him, by acknowledging him or bending over, but if they are going to jump, I just put a little energy towards them very quickly, see if just my energy will stop him. That works on a great majority of dogs if you catch them early. The dog keeps going, my hand just stays there still. They jump into that. I am just protecting myself. If you are late or do not see the dog jumping and they are on you, then I usually take three little steps right towards the dog, little steps so I do not step on any feet and when you walk towards the dog three steps they physically have to turn and get off. Instead of regressing by going backwards, my first motion and it all kind of happens together is I step short, hands stops quick, I say “off,” they continue, they hit my hand. If they are on me I just walk three steps towards them and say, “Off!” when they are turning and getting off.
Marko Kulik: Excellent advice and I suspect that is the exact opposite of what someone would do if they were not thinking about how to solve the problem. If they were just reacting, probably their instinct would be to move back, which as we have said before is sending the absolute wrong information or wrong signal to the dog.
Doug Simpson: Correct. They need to respect your space. When the leader goes through a pack, everybody gets out of their way, so if you regress from your dog, you are empowering their space.
Marko Kulik: By approaching your dog, as you suggest, you are empowering yourself and sending a very strong message to your dog, you are the leader.
Doug Simpson: Exactly, and the second they are off of you, immediate praise.
Marko Kulik: Are we talking extra lavish praise? What level of praise should we bestow upon them when they succeed at this task?
Doug Simpson: Well, this is a little bit of another subject but I will talk quick on it.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Doug Simpson: Many people like to give energy to the dog when the praise them and go, “Good boy! Good girl!” a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. Good for putting energy into them, not necessarily for praising. Some dogs need more energy and there is a time for energy for sure, but notice how you use that energy. Basically, maybe a dog is in a sit-stay and people go, “Good boy!” and the dog usually breaks because you gave him too much energy and they thought they were done. When I praise a dog, I try to get people to do it in a true whisper just like everybody is sleeping. There is no tone in a whisper, everybody is sleeping, it is very quiet, very whispery because whatever comes out of your mouth in a whisper to that animal is nice, warm, intriguing, invitational, friendly. It is literally a vacuum and when you whisper, “Good boy,” that dog will physically turn its head and suck into that. It is so powerful.
Marko Kulik: Huh. Again, I would suspect that is the exact opposite of what people are doing. People, I do not know where they learned it from and I am guilty of it myself sometimes but the whole “good boy” and maybe over lavish praise, definitely not a whisper.
Doug Simpson: Well, a lot of times people say, “No,” and then, “Good boy!” They actually blew right past the, “No.” That does not have any power anymore because they gave all of that energy into the other side.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Doug Simpson: If the human talks in low tones and whispers, they elevate a tiny little bit to say “No,” there is a change and change has power, has impact. Loudness has nothing to do with communication. People scream and yell at their dogs when actually if you change your relationship, that is why we all perform, not loudness.
Marko Kulik: Is the whisper really satisfying for the dog?
Doug Simpson: It just melts them. It is just warm, it is friendly, invitational, all those things I just said, it is just incredible. As soon as you go to that soft tone with any dog, they just melt and they suck into it. I work with fearful dogs all the time and as soon as I start to whisper, they just suck right in and they are just real warm and friendly.
Marko Kulik: So intriguing, so intriguing, and I guess maybe to end off, maybe we are going to talk or if you have some advice about jumping on other people?
Doug Simpson: Okay.
Marko Kulik: How should we not treat or what is one of the better methods when people come to your house or — I am sure people get this all the time when their dogs jump on people, the people get startled, it is not working for anyone involved, how would you deal with that, Doug?
Doug Simpson: Well, when somebody comes in, first of all, they usually come in a person”s house and they stay for 10 seconds or they stay for two hours, but the basic point is they came in the house one time. If your dog barks or jumps or whatever they do, that is failure and that is what they learn every time a person comes. In order to teach success, you have to get past the failure, enough times it is usually only three to five. The person has to come in three to five times right in a row and you are going to approach him three to five times or they might just stand in your door way, you are going to walk up to him and come back. Now, you have to get past success or past the failure part in order to create success. Dogs typically would not challenge more than three to five times if you have the right relationship and you are consistent in what you do. Most people teach a dog challenging works that is why they are so good at it. As humans, we do not challenge something that is consistent, it is a waste of time, waste of energy. We are smart enough to know better and so is the dog. Basically, when somebody comes in, we are going to approach this person and maybe beforehand, I am going to start with the lightest possible thing. I am going to have the person come in and not look at the dog, be calm and stand up straight. I might walk up with the dog, not right up to the person, maybe five feet away and ask my dog to sit because when I give them a job, they need to listen to me no matter who is around. I am going to take their mind totally off the person, at least put half their mind on me by asking them to do something, “Sit down, somebody”s here.” Now, I might have the person approach us, not looking at the dog, staying tall and just talk to him or me for 30 seconds and then gradually bend down, pet the dog for being good and straighten back up. That is the best lightest scenario is working on trying to create success. Now, suppose things go a little bit wrong. The dogs, when I approach this person, it has to be done with a loose leash because if the leash is tight, the only thing the dog is learning is to pull on the leash. Basically, I believe in having a loose leash, only using the leash for a little correction here and there, it is loose most all the time to allow the dog to make decisions to learn. If you go up with a tight leash and just control him from jumping, they would not learn anything, controlling does not teach, it controls.
Marko Kulik: So, for this particular exercise, let us say, if someone came in and let us say you thought that they needed a bit more than your previous scenario, would you put the leash on them? Would this be something that was planned in advance?
Doug Simpson: Yes.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Doug Simpson: You can kind of practice all your things and create your issues in life before they actually happen.\r\nMarko Kulik: Okay. So, we are not talking about, someone rings the doorbell then you go get a leash and figure out what is going on.
Doug Simpson: Right.
Marko Kulik: This would be a planned training exercise and then the dog will learn from there.
Doug Simpson: If you use your leash properly on all these drills, you can be off your leash in minutes to a day.
Marko Kulik: Wow.
Doug Simpson: So, I usually start by having a dog actually hooked on with me with a leash for a few days, here and there, throughout the day to work on all my drills to create the right responses for everything, but suppose I am approaching this person and my dog starts to jump, which means they are starting to lean back and get elevated.
Marko Kulik: Yeah.
Doug Simpson: Right then, I might put a little dink on the leash and say, “No,” and lean towards the dog with distance because distance can be pressure also and we are going to pull the dog back five steps away from the person, very gently to the side, not straight over backwards and not a jerk to get the feet off the ground. It is just a gentle pull back. We are going walk five steps away and we are going to turn and give him another chance. We are going to walk right up to the person with a loose leash. The second they just start to jump, same response lean towards them, say, “No,” maybe a little dink on the leash, just to irritate or a foot stomp for pressure, legs slap will work for startle, gently pull him to the side, walk away, approach them again. The third to fourth time on that approach, that dog should walk up and just sit down, then the person can pet him and straighten up. He might turn around again and approach the person and I am not going to go towards the person, I am just going to stay five feet away at the end of the leash and see if that dog wants to jumps or not and verbally from there I should be able to say, “Off,” if they are thinking about it and not use the leash.
Marko Kulik: For most normal dogs, you suggested that that three to five times should be enough?
Doug Simpson: Yes, if you the right relationship, which is a balance of love, trust and respect. People are great with the lovey-dovey stuff, usually lack a little on the trust and respect. If you have the proper balance, that is why we as humans work in a relationship, the proper balance, same with your dog. I might ask a dog to come into a bunch of horses and that dog is petrified, but the reason they come in will be trust and respect. There is a balance of those elements that you need for all things to work. I try to get people to look at the big picture. People are so focused on jumping or pulling or not coming and what they change and they will say, “I tried everything that is everything on the market, read everything and seen everything, and yet nothing works.” What they have not changed is that relationship of balance because when you have the proper relationship, your dog should do what you asked him to do. It is not how good they do two things or five, it is how good do they do 30 things, that means how well does your dog listen to you.
Marko Kulik: It is all about how good is your relationship with your dog at the end of the day, I would guess.
Doug Simpson: That is exactly right. If you know your dog, you can fix problems without even working on them if you change your relationship. If your dog does 10, 15, 20 things what you asked him to do, you can turn over here and say, “Don”t do that,” and they will listen to you too. It is all in the big picture of how well do they perform in your relationship.
Marko Kulik: Excellent, excellent advice. I would like to tell our listeners that of course if they want more information, you guys have a website as well, tenderfoottraining.com. I am going to put some show notes as well, so people can get there directly and I also know that you guys have a DVD, in VHS or DVD, where you explain a lot of your philosophy and you get more into drills, practical drills that people can use. Is that correct? It is not just jumping it is all kinds of issues. It is the entire relationship you have with your dog. I have seen it so I know it is so useful and you talk in other ways with regards to other problems in similar fashion, all about respecting the dog again.
Doug Simpson: Of course, every action that dog can do should have a word of understanding. It covers almost every single thing your dog can do and it also puts a lot of practical things in like imaginary boundaries out of the kitchen, I am greeting people at the door, out of my space, permanently out of all my gardens. It covers many, many very practical things to do with your dog.
Marko Kulik: Perfect, and I know that as well they can ask questions once they have purchased the DVD or before they are getting ready to purchase the DVD. I am going to give out your phone number now for people that have those questions, which is 303-4447-780. That is 303-4447-780. You guys are Mountain Time right? You guys are located in Boulder?
Doug Simpson: Yes, we are in Boulder, Mountain Time. Feel free to call. A lot of people have questions. We can just answer something easy on the phone. Just try not to call past 9:00, it would be great.
Marko Kulik: I am sure our listeners will abide by that request. I would surely like to thank you so much, Doug. Please thank Elizabeth as well. I know you guys are a team when it comes to Tenderfoot Training. Again, if people want more information, they can go to tenderfoottraining.com. They can read some information and they can look around that DVD as well. Thanks so much for this interview, Doug. It was super informative as always and maybe next time — I know you guys have been doing one podcast you Doug and then one podcast Elizabeth. We have been doing about one every six weeks or so. I guess maybe next time it is Elizabeth”s turn.
Doug Simpson: Oh, she would be happy to. She will jump on here in a heartbeat and I just appreciate you having us on. I just enjoy talking to you all the time.
Marko Kulik: Excellent, excellent. Thanks so much Doug and we will be speaking to you again in the very near future.
Doug Simpson: Thanks, Marko.
Marko Kulik: Bye for now.
Doug Simpson: Bye.
Marko Kulik: That ends our interview with Doug Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. As always, we so appreciate either Doug”s or Elizabeth”s advice whenever they come to our podcasts. They have such a humane and gentle way about them and about their philosophies that it is a real, real pleasure just to hear whatever it is they have to say and we are lucky enough that they have agreed to be around once every six weeks or so. I guess next time it will be Elizabeth”s turn and we will hear from her and we will gain even more knowledge from Tenderfoot Training. Thanks everyone for listening and as always, please give your pets a little scratchy under the chin from Marko. Bye for now.