When you come home to your dog is she jumping on you with excitement? Does it take a while for her to calm down?
This is not an uncommon problem. As a trainer I don’t believe, as some do, that dogs that do this in this setting are acting dominant. I actually think they are trying to give appeasement gestures such as licking your face, hence, the jumping up. They really aren’t trying to take over your life or your bank account or anything. They simply haven'nt seen you in a while and want to connect with you.
We as Pit Bull lovers know how much our dogs love human folk and want to connect as well. We are so happy to see our dogs when we get home that we tend to show a lot of excitement toward them. We greet them in a very happy and high-pitched voice. This is fine, except that it also tends to overexcite your dog. Therefore, your dog has learned to get excited about your arrival from YOU.
Dogs don’t’ react to each other the way we do after being apart for a time. We teach our dogs to be excited when we come home because we are excited. Your dog learns that this is the way she’s supposed to be when you come in the door. The remedy is to come in the door and completely ignore your dog. Don’t give attention to your dog when she is jumping and being excited. Go put your keys down. Look at your mail. Don’t give any eye contact. Don’t talk to your dog yet. Don’t stand still in front of your dog. Walk through the house somewhat briskly. If your dog jumps on you, turn and walk away in the opposite direction.
Please don’t be concerned that your dog’s feelings will be hurt. They won’t. Your dog will not think that you don’t love her. She’s not going to be thinking, “How come he’s not saying hi to me, doesn’t he love me anymore?”
When you first start to ignore this behavior in your dog, she might act more excited and jump even more. This is called an extinction burst. A behavior goes extinct or stops if it’s not reinforced. Before it goes extinct, there is a burst of that behavior. You see the catsup bottle is almost empty and you shake it to get some catsup out. Nothing comes out. So you shake it even harder and faster to see if something happens. Nothing does, and you stop. Similarly, your dog may jump more when you first begin to ignore her. If none of these things work to get your attention, she will soon calm down. When your dog has quieted down, then you can say hello. Pet her in a calm fashion so as not to get her excited again. If she does get excited when you start to pet her, just ignore her again until she’s quiet. When she’s calm, give her attention. It’s as simple as that. You may have to do this many times before this become routine for your dog. Especially if this behavior has previous been reinforced even unintentionally.
Marthina McClay, CPDT