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Play Time With Jumping Jasper

The Dogtor is in

This update on Jasper will not be especially impressive to anyone who is not familiar with Jasper because play time with him now looks much like any other dog. But to those who know him, this example will bring a smile to your face.

Jasper watching intently ready to playJasper was sent to us because no one could manage him. He was just over-the-top energetic. He was being playful, not mean, but when a larger dog puts a certain level of energy into play, there is little apparent difference to the recipient of his affections. He jumped on people, he pawed them, clawed them, mouthed (gentle biting) them, sometimes tearing clothing, breaking jewelry, and leaving scratches on skin. And worst of all, he could not be deterred! If you defended yourself, he thought you were playing and ramped up the play efforts. Telling him to stop or get down were totally ineffective: he paid no mind to anyone. He had no idea what those words meant.

This is not our first such dog: in fact we have had several that were this bad or worse. Each one left here much more calm than he (or she) arrived. We use a process to do this. It revolves around time-out. We make it clear to the dog, “If you want to play: behave. If you don’t behave, play time ends abruptly.” We are careful never to use force (other than what is required to put the dog back in the pen), because any kind of violent behavior just adds fuel to the fire.

We start the play session with some loving. Many (including Jasper) weren’t sure what to make of this at first. Some mouth us, saying “what are you doing, why are you touching me?” … but affection grows on them quickly.

Then we find out what the dog likes to do for play. Jasper likes to play with ropey toys. He loves to run along, flopping and tossing the toy. He requires little intervention from us: he can amuse himself quite well, but we need to inject ourselves to teach him to play in constructive ways.

A successful session ends with a treat.

Jasper has been here 3 weeks and has made tremendous progress.

Marie bought him a brand new ropey ball and he LOVES having a toy that no one else has slobbered on.

As you can see he is much more manageable now. If I tell him “down” he gets down. If he gets excited and starts mouthing, I say “stop” and step away from him. He stops mouthing so play will resume. Even when I feed him and he starts jumping on the door, a “down” command gets him to stand calmly on the floor so I can open his door to hand him his dish.

No longer is he jumping up to smack my face with his nose, or paw at my chest and neck. Rarely does he try to climb up my back (and then he’s far less intense about it).

He craves attention, but is willing to behave to get it.

Marie and I both play with him and he’s just as gentle with her.

His only remaining issue is that he experiences separation anxiety. If I’m out in the yard, he does this:

Trying to get out and come after me. When we’re all indoors, he’s usually quite calm … unless I’m late with his meal, then he fusses but does not climb the walls.

Jasper has a good heart, but he was never trained to channel his enthusiasm or to respect people. He’s smart and responds to commands well. He’d be exceptional at agility training. He’ll make a great companion for someone who wants a smart, active, agile, dog … now that he’s been trained to interact and play well with people.


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