Monday, August 13, 2007

My Dog Can't Jump

My first sheltie, Munchkin, had to be trained to jump on and off the couch. When he was a puppy, he would stand on the couch and cry until someone helped him down. While endearing at first, it got a little tiresome. So, we piled up some pillows on the floor and kept pushing him off the couch until he figured it out. We did the same thing in reverse to teach him to jump on the couch. He learned, but he still preferred some assistance.

Munchkin never really got comfortable with going up stairs. He would do everything to avoid them. He was ok going down them, just not up. Even to jump on our deck, he stutter stepped for about 30 seconds before getting up the nerve to jump. Stutter stepping also happened on hikes in the woods when we would approach a downed tree across the path. Munchkin always looked for a way around the tree before attempting a jump.

As Munchkin got older, jumping became much more difficult for him. He would end up slamming his head on the deck when trying to get back in the house. So, we put a ramp to the deck to make it easier for him. Of course, at first he refused to use the ramp. Dogs really don't like change in their routines. We had to train him to use the ramp. This involved lots of repetition and treats. Even then, Munchkin never really got used to the ramp, and still stutter stepped several times before placing a paw on the ramp. In the end, we ended up carrying him in and out of the house. It was much quicker than waiting for him to get the nerve to use the ramp.

When you see shelties on tv, they are often running agility courses. They leap over hurdles, run through tunnels, and walk up and down ramps and teter toters. I have always longed to do that with my shelties. I think it would be a great bonding experience. I wonder if those shelties on tv had to be trained to jump on couches and walk up ramps.

super dog

I got Misty when she was 2 years old. She entered our lives being an adept jumper. I'm not sure if she had to be taught. I am always marveled at her ability to jump on our bed with such ease. The bed is at least 6 inches higher than her head, but she jumps up like its nothing. Could you jump on something 6 inches higher than your head? I think it would involve some sort of spring board, or pole. Misty would be great at agility, if she wasn't terrified of crowds.

When I got Oreo, he was full of energy, speed and confidence. I thought I finally have my agility dog. Oreo can jump straight up in the air as though he has springs on his feet. When I pick up his box of "oreo cookies", he jumps like a pogo stick. He lands on top of Misty's head, over and over. He leaps up for his ball and catches it 4 feet in the air. He can jump high enough to reach our bathroom counter, dresser, and kitchen table, or anywhere a towel might be. I worry about my cookies being devoured by him when I leave them on the kitchen counter to cool.

oreo going for a towel

However, Oreo does not jump on the couch. Apparently, he prefers to jump straight up, not at an angle.

We have tried many tactics to get him to jump on the couch and bed. We have offered treats and tried cornering him. No luck.

Jeff suggested getting him to jump over some stuff outside. So, I laid a broom on top of two buckets. I jumped over, Misty followed, and Oreo went around the broom. I lured him with $10 beef jerky treats (100% natural treats for dogs, which Jeff says don't taste too bad). Misty jumped over for the jerky, while Oreo went under the broom. We tried over and over again. Misty and I were exhausted from all the jumping. Misty was panting. I was sweating. I'm glad no one could see us, I'm sure I looked ridiculous. Oreo kept sitting, thinking that's how he would get some jerky. Guess I trained him too well to "sit" to get rewarded, now Oreo won't do anything else.

I thought with age Oreo would figure out how to jump at an angle. Now he is 8 months old, and no closer to learning. My only hope is that Oreo does jump over obstacles in the woods. He has jumped over some logs, but like Munchkin, Oreo prefers to look for a way around.

Oreo's inability or unwillingness to jump on furniture does have some advantages. It gives Misty a way to escape from him. It keeps our pillows from being eaten. There's less dog hair on the furniture.

I know many people go to great lengths to keep their animals off their furniture. There are even devices for sale which make a noise or shock the animal when their paws touch the couch. I'm not that kind of dog mother. I long for Oreo to jump on the couch when I want him to join me for a quick cuddle. Maybe, I'll try some raw meat. If that doesn't work, I give up. At least he uses the ramp.


Anonymous said...

I googled "dog can't jump" and found this blog. I was just curios because I have a three yr old schnauzer who just has no idea how to jump. He can jump on things when we pretend like we're chasing him, but left to his own devices it just seems like he can't figure it out. Glad we're not alone!

Anonymous said...

My Maltese can't jump either on or off things like the couch or bed, or into the car etc. She is 15 months old and did figure out how to do it at around 5-6 months and did it abouot 5-8 times but then stoppped and seemed to forget. It's not the most convenient thing as she can't get down off the bed in the night to use her potty pad etc. and I am constantly lifting her up and down. She was blue when she was born but recouperated quickly but I'm wondering if that effected her brain.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 year old Mini Schnauzer who loved to jump over bar jumps in class. He would follow his big brother and do whatever he did. They would jump the jumps together sometimes. All of a sudden going into dog show season, my 2 year old decides he no longer knows how to jump. He stands there and cries if we all act like we are leaving and his only choice is to go over the jump to meet us. I don't know what else to do. I have tried treats, toys but he still acts like he scared to death of a very low jump. He has not been hurt in jumping. Help!!

Diana Brown said...

I thought, like you, that there was something wrong with my sheltie Cinnabar who has never learned to jump and was deathly afraid of stairs either going up or down them. He finally learned to use the stairs but is always hesitant to do so. I have to be patient and not lead him by his leash. Cinnabar is 5 years old now and still won't jump at or on anything. I have to lift him up into the car and drag him out again. I think the breeder I bought him from scared him in some way as she did not want me to come to her home for inspection. I was so distraught from loosing my other half sheltie half springer spaniel at age 15 just a few weeks before, I did not follow good sense in buying my next dog. Cinnabar is stand offish with me and does not like to get petted but he likes to play with my little llaso Lilly Rose and herd all the cats. He is also an excessive barker because we live in the woods and he knows when ther is a coyotee, racoon, couger or other wild life or person who might be a threat to me and the rest of my animal children. I just wish he would love to cuddle and sleep on my bed like Chocolate did.