Let's face it, there's nothing like the unconditional enthusiastic greeting that only a dog can give. Unfortunately, these greetings often involve energetically jumping up, mouthing the person’s arms and legs, or even grabbing at clothing or the leash.
Although the intent of these actions is not to cause harm ― after all, your biggest fan is just telling you how much he adores you ― they are often unwanted and can be a real nuisance.
The Center for Shelter Dogs launched a study in the spring of 2012, evaluating the effectiveness of the Center’s behavior modification program in treating jumpy, mouthing dogs. The hope is the study will provide evidence that the behavior modification program is effective, making these dogs more manageable for the shelter staff and increasing their chances at adoption.
In a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior and prompted by the high rate of relinquishment of dogs to animal shelters because of behavioral problems, researchers sought to determine environmental factors supporting problem behavior, specifically jumping up on people in dogs, using an established technique for identifying such variables in humans, called functional analysis.
Results of the data indicate that it is possible to empirically assess how undesired behaviors in dogs are maintained. By understanding how they are maintained, programs can be developed to modify this behavior. This will be especially valuable in cases where the history of the dog is unknown, such as shelter dogs or dogs acquired as strays.
Center for Shelter Dogs Jumpy/Mouthy Study.
Dorey NR, Tobias JS, Udell MAR, Wynne CDL. Decreasing dog problem behavior with functional analysis: Linking diagnoses to treatment. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2012.