THE JUMPING DOG

A jumping dog makes life hard on the dog's guardian. Many people want to learn how to train a dog to stop jumping. Before answering this, let’s look at why dogs jump. Dogs were once wolves. Wolf puppies jump up and lick around the mouths of adult wolves in greeting after a hunt. This causes the adults to regurgitate food for the puppies to eat. So, when a dog jumps up in greeting, it’s being a submissive puppy asking for resources (usually attention in the case of the domestic dog).

There are many “surefire” techniques for stopping jumping out there: “step on its paws,” “knee it in the chest, “grab its front feet when they’re off the ground,” “teach it the command ‘off.’” All of these have worked with some dogs, but none works with all dogs.

Let’s start with stepping on the paws. You can’t step on the front paws if they’re off the ground, and stepping on them after your dog jumps is ineffective, because your dog will associate it with coming down from the jump, not with jumping up. Stepping on them before the dog jumps just creates a weird game. And you’d have to be extremely agile to step on the back paws while the front paws are off the ground.

Then there’s the ever popular “knee it in the chest.” This can be effective if you catch the dog in the chest as it’s coming up, and knock it backwards. If the experience is unpleasant enough, your dog won’t want to jump on you anymore. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t jump on someone else. And, the real problem with kneeing a dog in the chest is that most people just lift up their knees to block their dogs’ jumps. Unless you’re really conscious of how you’re lifting your knee, your back will bend a little backwards when you lift your knee, pulling your head back. Dogs can interpret that bending backwards as an invitation to come closer, or worse, as submission. This is not what you want to communicate to your dog when it’s jumping.

Grabbing a dog’s front paws when it jumps could be effective if the dog has an aversion to having its paws held onto, or if you can hold the paws long enough to make the dog uncomfortable. However, it requires really good timing, and everyone who meets the dog initially has got to be willing to do it with good timing. Then again, your dog may see the paw grabbing as your way of giving it the attention that is seeking when jumping. Oops!

And then there’s the “off” command. You tell your dog “off” when it jumps. When it gets off, you reward it. The problem is that to get “off,” the dog must first get “on,” so your dog has to jump in order to get the command. You could use the “off” command before the dog jumps, and reward it if it doesn’t jump. However, this a non-specific command. You are telling the dog,” Do anything but jump.” This is a hard concept to teach.

The answer to jumping lies in its purpose. Your dog wants attention, so teach it something specific to do to get your attention. I like to teach dogs to sit to get attention. A dog can’t sit and jump at the same time. When your dog wants to greet you, say “sit” before it jumps. If your dog sits, greet it. Let it know that sitting will get it attention. Then, make your dog sit any time you give it attention.

And, any time your dog is approaching a person, have your dog sit, and then let the person give it attention. I do have to admit that this can be a challenge, not necessarily because of the dog, but because of the nature of people that like dogs. I don’t know how many times I have been told by people that it is ok if my dog jumps on them when they see that I am telling my dog to sit. Some people will just go right ahead and give my dog attention when she is standing, when I have clearly told them she has to sit to get their attention. Yes, other people can sabotage your best efforts here, so be assertive with them, and let them know that your dog has to sit to get their attention.

So, what if your dog jumps when you say “sit,” or your dog jumps up while you’re petting it? Then, withdraw your attention; even turn your back on it. If the dog keeps jumping, walk into it while not giving it attention. If it jumps on your back, walk backwards into it. Pretend the phone is ringing across the room, and you know it’s an urgent call. Nothing is going to stop you from getting to that phone. You may knock the dog backwards with your knee, or step on its paws, as you walk, but your dog is not going to be confused by your body language. Don’t look at the dog, or talk to it other than to repeat the command “sit.”

Be consistent, and soon you’ll see your dog sitting, without being told, instead of jumping, whenever it comes to greet you.

For more free dog training tips, check out the basic dog obedience training page. If you have further dog behavior issues that you would like to learn about solving, check out the dog behavior corrrection section. If you would like full information on how to train your dog to be well-behaved all of the time, please If you would like full information on how to train your dog to be well-behaved all of the time, please get a copy of my e-book.



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