Special thanks to Dr. Eloise Bright for writing and sharing today's post.
If you have a problem jumper in your family there are a number of easy solutions to help. Often the enthusiastic leaping starts when your dog is young and is simply repeated because it gets attention in some form. Just as it easily began, you can also easily stop the behaviour before a small person is bowled over in all the excitement.
The first step is to determine why your dog jumps up. If your dog is naturally very hyperactive and joyful about life, sometimes practicing some calm behaviour can help them to settle down a little. Ignore any behaviour you don't like, but make sure you reward your furry friend when he is behaving. If your dog jumps up on your guests, ask some friends to help and work on training an alternate behaviour for your dog.
|Photo via Grace|
Why Does Your Dog Jump Up?
It is natural for a dog to want to jump up and get as close to your face as possible. A cute little puppy jumping is fine, so we often allow this, but then start to regret it as they become bigger. The puppy has established a pattern of behaviour and there are many things that just don’t work in stopping the acrobatics. Chances are you push him off or perhaps say 'no' or 'bah'. Your dog is getting exactly what he wants, which is eye contact, voice contact and physical contact. Most of the time dogs simply do not understand the word ‘no’ and your actions (touch and eye contact) mean yes, rather than no in doggy language.
Practice Calm Behavior
A naturally hyperactive and enthusiastic dog can be an absolute pleasure. But like active children, boisterous play is best done in the outside world, not around the fine china. Reward your dog with treats and attention when he is being calm inside. Teach him to go to his bed and reward him for staying there. This training really needs to be combined with an outlet, so your dog can expend lots of energy on walks and with outside play. Don’t expect him to be calm at home if he is bored and has energy to burn.
Downplay Arrivals and Departures
When leaving or entering the house, don’t make a big deal over it. If you leave your dog alone, just leave, don’t make a fuss. By the same token, when you come home don’t react to your dog’s enthusiasm by getting him more excited. Don’t worry, your dog will still be excited to see you, whether you have been gone for 1 minute or all day, it is in their nature. Making a big fuss teaches your dog that you want excitement and can be part of the reason why your dog is leaping all over the place. For some articles and videos on basic training such as ‘go to bed’ and ‘stay’ follow the links at the end of the article.
How to Stop Jumping on Your Family
The best way to stop your dog jumping up on you is to be consistent in ignoring the behaviour. When your dog jumps up, turn your back and look away. Do not say anything. If your dog keeps jumping, keep turning away. You may need to cross your arms over your chest and look up, particularly if your dog is very persistent or tries mouthing at your hands. As soon as all four paws are on the ground go down to his level and tell him he is a good boy. As soon as he springs up again, turn your back. Your dog needs to learn that as soon as all four paws are on the floor, you give attention.
Be aware that whenever you try to stop behaviour, things often get worse before they get better, this is perfectly normal. Just be consistent and get everyone in the house to do the same. Bear in mind your dog has been jumping up for quite a while and it will take a little time before he works out another way to greet you.
|Photo via tentwo.teneight|
By removing the reward (eye contact, touch and voice contact) until the undesirable behaviour stops you are making it less likely for it to occur. If you then combine this with positive reinforcement (praise for staying on the ground), you make this good behaviour more likely to occur.
Jumping on Guests
If your dog is prone to inappropriately leaping all over your 90 year old nanna ask them to also ignore your dog. When you hear the door, place your dog on a lead and use a treat to get him to sit. Keep asking him to sit and keep rewarding the calm behaviour. Ask your guest to only pat your dog while he is in the sit position.
You can also ask some able bodied friends to practice with your dog. Ask them to do the sequence above by turning away and ignoring the behaviour. Again, as soon as your dog has his front paws on the ground, you need to go down to his level and reward him with praise.
Training Alternate Behavior
For full well-behaved-dog points, teach your dog to sit on command and perhaps to shake. Do this at a time when there are no distractions and for only 5-10 minutes a day.
When you have successfully ignored the jumping behaviour and it has started to subside, ask your dog to sit and shake hands and reward him for this. More instructions on teaching ‘shake’ in ‘Useful Links’.
If you have a very exuberant dog who you know will be unlikely to sit quietly when people come to visit, one option is to give them a toy special squeaky chew toy that sits by the door. When they are excited and need to do something to release all that pent-up enthusiasm, give them the toy to shake and chew. The key is to find an alternate behaviour that is a bit more socially acceptable than leaping all over everyone.
Another option for dogs who can’t settle, is to teach them to go to their bed and give them a chew like a Greenie or a Pigs Ear to chew on while guests are visiting. Particularly useful for dogs who like to greet the electrician and chase him around while he is trying to work. Not only does this teach your dog a positive association with tradies coming to the house, but it also teaches him to stay in his spot and distracts him.
It is always easier to train your dog to do something, than to train him NOT to do something. Often behaviour like jumping up has been unintentionally reinforced. In the same way that your dog learnt that to sit gets him praise and perhaps a treat, when he jumps up you look at him and touch him. He then continues to repeat the same old pattern to get that attention. Training an alternate behaviour will take a little time and persistence, but is worth it in the end.
Dr Eloise Bright is a resident pet care expert and vet at Love That Pet. When not working to keep her furry, feathery and leathery patients in tip top shape, Eloise enjoys spending time with her family and pets.