Jumping up is one of “those” problems…“those” problems that wind up with a dog in a shelter sitting on death row.
I, honestly, don’t understand it.
I have NEVER owned a dog that couldn’t learn to stay “off” people when they are taught properly.
The problem is that most people are not spending that time teaching, and, instead, are getting frustrated and angry at an animal with a very distinctly different set of social norms.
I think, first things first, understand your dog.
Dogs jump on each other for play and sociability.
They even get in the face of those that scare them as a way of being submissive and acquiescing.
They are a separate species with separate social norms.
They do not spring from their mother’s womb understanding human social norms or expectations.
We must teach them!
If you want your dog to refrain from jumping, it is going to require you to teach him.
The biggest problem with dogs or puppies jumping is a lack of consistency.
Admit it, you thought it was cute when your puppy jumped when he was tiny.
He wanted to get close to you and play with you and it was adorable!
You may even allow him to jump on you now, provided you aren’t dressed for work or not in the mood.
The problem is that dogs need consistency in order to learn.
If you don’t want him to jump on you when you are preparing for work, you must teach him not to jump on you EVER.
He needs to learn that the behavior is unacceptable, no matter the circumstances.
2. Consistency Among Family
The next biggest problem is consistency among family.
Dad may hate that the dog jumps, but mom or the kids don’t mind.
This sets the dog up for failure.
Just like you need to be consistent yourself, everyone in the home has to be consistent.
If this is a problem with your family, I recommend you sit down as a family and discuss it.
Explain to your children how hard it is for your dog to engage in this behavior with them, but then not have the behavior carry over to everyone else.
Usually, if you explain the negative impact, sadness and conflict this is creating for the dog, children will understand.
If your spouse is the problem, you need to figure out how to communicate effectively so the dog is not the one who suffers.
3. All 4 Feet on the Floor
This quick clicker game teaches your dog that keeping all four feet on the floor is rewarding.
Grab your clicker, your dog and some great treats.
If you need help understanding clicker training click here.
Click and reward every time your dog keeps all four paws on the floor.
Move to the left, move to the right, but click for the same behavior.
Next, get your dog excited. If he goes to jump on you, avoid the jump and wait for all four paws to hit the floor so that you can click and reward.
At the end of this kind of training, you can even pat your chest and encourage your dog up (don’t feel bad, your friends may do this and it is best for the dog to learn to stay “off” no matter what!). Only click and reward if he resists and stays on the ground!
5. Incompatible Behavior
Teaching your dog an incompatible behavior can also save your training and keep your dog from jumping!
Obviously, jumping is a big problem and, if you think about it, a dog can’t jump up and lay down at the same time!
Incompatible behaviors can work wonders!
When I was training Service Dogs, we would teach them to lie down when greeting people.
It is impossible to lie down and jump at the same time!
Many people use “sit”, which is certainly understandable as it is an easier task to teach an excited dog, but it is much easier to go from sit to a jump than it is to go from down to a jump.
Even teaching your dog to shake another person’s hand is a way to keep his mind entertained and keep him from jumping!
There are many incompatible behaviors; you just need to choose one and then require that the dog show the behavior upon greeting.
If the dog gets up or ignores the command, he cannot socialize or be petted.
Leashes, actually, prevent this problem completely!
It is the best way, not only to prevent the problem, but also to keep it from continuing!
If you put your dog on leash, you can prevent the dog from jumping on people (including yourself).
I recommend putting a leash by your front door and snapping it on your dog prior to people coming inside.
I, often, also recommend typing out and laminating a small sign that says “Please be patient while we put our dog on leash and get his behavior under control. We will be with you momentarily”.
This shows family, friends, and acquaintances that you take your dog’s behavior seriously and will help them respect your desire to keep your dog off them.
The consistency will also help your dog to learn that he can never jump on people!
All of these quick tips will keep this problem under control!