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This is my second dog I've owned. He's my first boy-dog and any dog this big. He's a Mastiff Boxer mix with a brindle coat. My last 12year dog was a female black lab that past away 18 months ago. My new dog is totally AMAZING! and I love him in the same way I loved my last dog. But there is a new alarming behavior that I need to work on immediately! I need help and advice.

Like I said, he is an amazing puppy with lots and lots of puppy energy and happiness. For the last couple of months when I take him to the dog park he has this habit of jumping up and "kissing" people... like bopping his snout against peoples faces. It's pretty impressive because he has a 5 foot vertical leap on all four paws... like he's bouncing up and kissing you at mouth level. It's really cute and most people don't seem to mind it (because it's a dog park).

But a few days ago he was doing the same behavior and an elderly lady yelled out loud "GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM ME!!!!!" as he bopped her in the cheek. She seemed to be covering her cheek with her hand like she was hurt. At the time I thought maybe she was over-reacting? But I was concerned so I immediately leashed him up and took him home. I've been taking him back to the dog park each day since. So today I go out to the park with him to get his exercise, and there was this nice woman at the park with her dog and my boy bounced up again and "kissed" (or bopped) her in the nose and she got a mild bloody nose from that. That was the second warning sign and now I'm really concerned! What do I do? I need advice from experts. I DO NOT WANT A LAW SUIT OR MY DOG BEING PUT DOWN for being aggressive. He's absolutely not. He's just a Mastiff puppy with a very happy life.

My first plan is to start using the shock collar at the park. And only shock him when he jumps up at people. He WILL NOT listen to my verbal commands if he's really engaged in play. I feel like going to the shock collar is the best method to give him what he wants (play in the dog park) and give me what I want (doggy exercise and discipline ) without the risk of having people hurt by his jumping. He's really a big puppy and I want the best for him.

If there is a better (more expedient) solution then the shock collar I'm open to suggestions. Many many thanks for all of your suggestions.

  • Followup comment... my dog doesn't do this with me. Other folks at the dog park laugh and think his jumping and kissing are fine, which I think has reinforced the behavior. I'll try and get them to react to his jumping in a strong negative manner so he can associate that people don't like that behavior. – CryptoMonkey Feb 9 '17 at 16:15
  • A word of advice on this: ther eis most likely not even a need for ans strign negatives, Crossing their arms and looking away from the dog may actually be enough of a signal for your puppy that the behavior is not desired :). – Layna Feb 12 '17 at 10:38
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Shock collars should ideally never be used, and if, only by someone who REALLY REALLY knows what they are doing.
Does he do it with you, too? Or in a more controlled environment? If yes: Train there.

Two things you should do here for training:
You have to train your dog to come back to you even when engaged in play. You can train that with a heavily reward-based program: whenever you ask the dogs attention, and it responds, praise him, reward him, give him a toy, whatever works good for him as a reward. You are absolutely delighted he looked at you! Nothing makes you more happy than your dogs response when you call it! Slowly build up the level of distraction you compete against, and eventually, you should be able to call him out of even the most exciting play.
The more distracted he was before, the more intensely you should reward. Ignoring all the other dogs AND that ball AND that Frisbee all at once is a HUGE challenge for your dog. If he does it, you are again absolutely overjoyed.
While you are at it, train him to "stay", too.

Second: He is greeting people like that; you do not want that; he may greet people, but politely! Ideally, you find someone to work with you, and put him into a situation where he does greet your helper like that. Now, you reward the kind of greeting you WANT. If he does his jumping-trick, he gets ignored by the one he jumped at, and called back by you. If he approaches in the manner you want, you and your helper again praise him, reward him, pay attention to him. Basically, you teach him that the more gentle way is WAY more fun than jumping up (cute as it may be for dog-lovers!).

Additionally: You CAN train him to jump on command, and give his kiss on command, too. This way, he can occasionally still behave that way, but YOU choose when he does it!

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Please please please don't use a shock collar. You can easily train away this behavior with far more effective and far less cruel methods. Using a shock collar will only confuse and frighten your dog, in which case he may become actually aggressive as opposed to merely playful.

It's likely that the behavior is being reinforced by people who think this is cute. Your pup has probably learned that (at least some) people will give him positive attention if he bops them with his nose so now he tried it with everyone. You have a few training options here: try to get this behavior under stimulus control (aka teach him a command for this) or eliminate the behavior completely. It's going to be easier to eliminate it completely, so that's what I'll go with. Here's how you do it:

  • If he bops you like this at home or anywhere else, immediately turn your back to him and ignore him until he is sitting or laying down quietly (the first few times this may take a minute or two). As soon as he's sitting/laying quietly turn around and give him lots and lots of praise and attention. What you're doing here is teaching him that good things happen when he's quiet and calm.
  • Assuming you're friendly with the regulars at the dog park, talk to them about what you're trying to do and make sure they don't reinforce him for jumping.
  • Continue working on basic obedience, the more behaviors you have under stimulus control the better. You want your dogs default behavior to be looking at you for a command.
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