Dogs are generally excitable creatures — it’s a fact of life. One of the potential side effects of being an excitable creature is — you guessed it — jumping. Whether your dog is trying to greet a stranger or if they are just trying to welcome you home, jumping up can be annoying. Small dogs can leave scratch marks all up and down your legs and big dogs can knock you down! Here are a few tips to help you teach your dog to stop jumping up.
STOP ENCOURAGING IT
Most people don’t realize that they are actually encouraging the behavior at times. For example, if a dog jumps up on you, your first reaction might be to push them off. However, any attention you give them could be considered a reward. In their mind, it’s simple: they jump up, you touch them (yay!) Even if you scold them verbally, you are still paying attention to them.
Another common mistake is that you might let your dog jump up on you when arriving home. In a dog’s mind, they usually cannot distinguish when is the right time to jump and when is the wrong time. So, if they regularly jump on you to welcome you home, you shouldn’t be too surprised if they jump on your elderly neighbor when saying “hi.” Consistency is the most important thing when training a dog — regardless of what you are training for!
Now that we’ve covered the unintentional encouragement of dogs jumping up, let’s cover the training aspect. When a dog jumps up on you, you can react a few different ways. We’ve already mentioned that pushing them off you is not necessarily a punishment — even if you use the old-fashioned “knee to their chest” trick.
The reason they are jumping on you — usually — is because they want your attention. So, the harshest and most cruel thing (to them) that you can do is ignore to them. When your dog jumps on you, don’t bother making eye contact, saying anything, or pushing them off. Ignore them completely! As soon as all four of your dog’s paws are on the ground, reward them! As soon as they are on the ground, you can bend over to greet and pet them.
On some occasions, there might be a dog (who is obviously not friendly) trying to jump on you. In these instances, you should NOT run away — you will be triggering the prey drive of the dog. The dog will want to run after you even more. Make sure that you yell, scold, and wave your arms around. By making yourself seem bigger and more of a threat, you may be able to scare the dog off.
REWARD THEM FOR NOT JUMPING
Giving your dog attention for not jumping is a great way to reward them! However, you can also reward them with snacks. The prime time for a dog to jump on you is after coming back home. If you don’t want to ignore them and wait for them to get off on their own, then you can ask them to “sit” or “lay down” and give them a treat.
Here’s another approach: make sure you have some treats before you go back home and put them on the ground as soon as you open the door. Your dog should go right away to the treats on the floor. You can pet them while all four paws are on the ground and they are eating — but ONLY when all four paws are on the ground!
Does your dog usually jump up? Have you ever accidentally encouraged it? What’s your worst “dog jumping up” story? Let us know in the comments down below!
Erika Newcomb is a full-time college student with a passion for pooches! She’s been training dogs for over 13 years and has been teaching agility classes for the last 3 years. As part of the behind-the-scenes support for @endeavorsofego, she can often be found brainstorming photo ideas and playing with Ego.