Avoid Dog Jumping up is one of the most common behavioral issues for dog owners. While it might be cute as a puppy, having a large or muddy poodle jumping at you (or strangers) is frustrating.
Fortunately, teaching a dog not to jump is easy using positive reinforcement methods. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Understand Why a Dog Jumps Up
Dogs don’t jump because they want to “dominate” or show they are “alpha.” These outdated ideas have been proven incorrect. Instead, jumping up is often either due to excitement or anxiety.
Excitement is the most common reason, as dogs are happy to see someone they know. In this case, jumping is a way for the dog to get closer to the person, gain attention, or let out excess energy.
Some dogs jump up because they feel anxious or uncertain though. These dogs may not know how to cope with this feeling – especially when they see a stranger on a walk or at home. Jumping up is a manifestation of their anxiety, rather than a way to greet the person.
Avoid Dog Jumping
Regardless of whether your dog is jumping due to excitement or anxiety, the training method is the same. You need to avoid reinforcing the behavior, while rewarding an alternative response.
Step 2: Set Your Dog Up for Success
It’s important to minimise your dog’s opportunities to practice problem behaviours. Habits are tough to break if the dog is constantly reinforcing them.
It’s a good idea to install a pet gate, such as those recommended by The Dog Clinic, between your dog and the front door. Jumping up is much more likely when the dog is over-excited, such as when you get home from work or a friend arrives. Having a physical barrier allows your pet calm down before he greets you.
If your dog jumps at strangers on walks, keep him on a leash when people are around. Try to get his attention as you walk past someone and reward good behavior with tasty treats.
Step 3: Ignore Jumping and Reward The “Right” Behavior
Ideally, you should try to stop any jumping before it happens. This means anticipating situations when your dog is likely to jump, and giving them attention before they get a chance.
In practice, this could mean getting down to their level when you greet them. You could also scatter some treats on the floor during greetings. These techniques start to break the dog’s habit of jumping.
There will be times when your dog jumps unexpectedly though. Whenever your dog jumps at you, immediately turn your back and cross your arms. Resist the urge to talk or touch her – even if she keeps jumping. Just completely ignore her.
The goal is to teach your dog that you become “boring” when she jumps. Any form of attention, including pushing your dog away or saying her name, could be reinforcing the behaviour.
Once your dog stops jumping for a few seconds and has all paws touching the floor, turn around and give her positive attention. If she jumps up again, which is a common reaction during the initial stages, instantly turn around and repeat the process.
Consistency is key. It’s vital that everyone responds in the same way, so make sure other family members know what to do when the dog jumps at them. You may also need to ask guests to help with training.
Tip: Keep in mind that some dogs initially react to being ignored by jumping even more. This is because they are confused that their previous method of getting attention isn’t working, so they try to jump more vigorously. Continue to ignore the behavior and it will improve.
Jumping up isn’t “bad” behavior. It’s just a way dogs learn to get attention. Some dogs also jump because they are anxious and don’t know how to react.
Most dogs stop jumping when taught that an alternative behaviour, such as sitting, gets them attention. This process can take time though. The longer your dog has been receiving attention for jumping, the more practice sessions it takes to break the habit.
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