What to do About Jumping?
by Valerie Broadway
Jumping up on people is a very common issue with dogs. They jump mainly to demand attention and this often begins while they are puppies. They continue to do it because they find it works. Puppyhood is the best time to set the expectations for what will be acceptable and to discourage any habits or behaviors that would not be desired when they are adults.
Dogs are jumping up to peoples’ eyes. Looking at an excited dog for more than a couple of seconds can be misinterpreted as an invitation to jump up. Simply not looking at them can be all it takes to prevent some dogs from jumping.
If not looking at the dog doesn’t work, then when the dog jumps up, the person should fold their arms, look up and freeze. Since dogs are usually jumping to get attention this will make them think jumping hits the “off switch” on people. It’s not simply ignoring the dog, it is completely shutting down. When all four paws are back on the ground the person comes back to life; but still don’t look at the dog. Acknowledge the dog only when he sits. Don’t tell the dog to sit. Let him figure it out. The result will be a dog who sits when seeking attention, rather than jumping.
NOTE: If they believe jumping has worked in the past, when first using this technique, some dogs will jump higher and harder for a short period of time.
In my experience, the above techniques work for about 80% of dogs. For dogs who are still jumping then try the following techniques until you find the one that works. In conjunction it can be helpful to use a deep, harsh voice when making corrections. Keep it to one or two syllables. Say something like, “Stop!” or “Off!” or make some sort of sound that is only used for corrections. The first four steps below are done with the dog wearing a collar and leash. Set up scenarios for training when the dog is under the control of a responsible person.
- Working by yourself, when the dog starts to jump, step on the leash close enough to the dog to prevent them from jumping. Stand there until the dog settles down.
- If they try to jump on someone else, immediately and firmly walk the dog 10 to 15 feet away. When the dog calms down, approach the person again. Every time the dog tries to jump move them away. Repeat this until the dog does not try to jump. It may take several tries, especially for dogs with poor impulse control. NOTE: The person being jumped on may have to be instructed to not make eye contact with the dog.
- Switch the technique mentioned in #2. The person being jumped on should turn and quickly move 10 or 15 feet way from the leashed dog. When the dog calms down the person can return. This may have to be repeated several times before the dog figures out the pattern and stops jumping.
- When the dog is trying to jump on someone else, the person holding the leash can quickly pull the dog sideways and off balance. Dogs don’t like the feeling of falling, which makes this an effective correction.
- Don’t use your hands to push a jumping dog off. Even though it isn’t the intention, the dog may perceive this as attention. Instead, walk directly into the dog until they fall off balance. In the dog world whoever can make the other move backwards is more powerful.
- For many dogs it is a challenge to get them to stop jumping. Using patience and persistence it usually only takes a day or two to see results. Most of the time jumping is a sign that dogs are happy to see someone. As frustrating as it can be, jumping certainly is preferable to having an aggressive dog.
- It is important for people to recognize their role in a dog’s level of excitement. To keep a dog calm minimize eye contact, avoid using a high-pitched voice, don’t pet them in a high energy way, especially on top of the head. Petting dogs under the chin will bring them down towards the hand instead of up. Don’t allow other people to encourage your dog to jump on them. They will undo your hard work. In my opinion, unless a dog is performing a task or trick that requires them to jump up, they should have four (paws) on the floor.
Valerie Broadway, the Canine Coach, is a dog trainer and behavioral specialist. Contact: 919-542-4726 or CanineCoachingServices.com.