So, following on from yesterday’s post about teaching our dogs to jump we’re going to be looking at the flip side of the coin today. One of the most frequently asked questions relating to dog training is ‘how do I stop my dog jumping up at people’?
Why do dogs jump up?
Well, if you observe puppies greeting an adult dog they will go up to their face and lick them around the muzzle. Wolf puppies will lick the adult’s muzzle to encourage them to regurgitate food for them. As we’re so much taller than wolves and dogs they have to jump up to mimic that same greeting when they meet us. Add to that the fact that most puppies are small and cute, if they jump up at people they will often be met with ‘awww, how cute’, and there you have the jumping up well and truly reinforced with the reward of affection.
Starting out right
If you get your pet as a puppy you can nip this nuisance behaviour in the bud from the off. Simply do not make a fuss of him or give any kind of attention unless all four paws are on the floor. It’s all too easy to encourage and reward jumping from a cute little puppy, only to find six months further down the line that you have a large puppy who takes great delight in launching himself at you on sight.
Teaching a polite greeting
The thing to remember here is that the dogs reward is your greeting him, he is desperate for you to speak to him, cuddle him and give him attention. What we need to do is make sure that our furry friend only gets that reward on condition that all four paws are on the floor. You might want to give a ‘sit’ command if you’ve already taught this, as even the most exuberant puppy cannot jump up if his butt remains on the floor! Whichever way you decide to approach it you only provide the reward, ie your attention and fussing, when all four paws are firmly on the ground. At any time when they might not be on the floor you are going to simply withdraw the reward, ie instead of giving attention simply turn and walk away. As soon as the feet are all on the floor again you provide the attention and fuss that the dog is so eagerly looking for. It doesn’t take too many repetitions for most dogs to work out that they get what they want when they’ve got all feet on the ground and they don’t get what they want when they’re jumping up.
Working on consistency
Even once you have established a calm greeting with your pet it is likely that out of the ordinary events may tempt him to jump up again, eg new visitors, the postman knocking at the door, etc. Once you have established the basics in polite greeting between yourself and your dog it is important to make sure that all of the people who the dog will meet regularly follow the same pattern, ie no attention and fussing unless all paws are on the floor. Consistency is the key, it will only take a couple of instances of the dog being rewarded (ie given attention) when jumping up for the problem to re-appear.
Once the regular visitors have established a calm greeting with the dog you can add some experiments with ‘unexpected’ visitors. Unexpected for the dog that is! In time and with a bit of practice and effort your aim is to make visitor arrival a non-event for the dog. Take it slowly, time and practice will build confidence. Go back to basics if necessary and remember, consistency will solve this problem.
As always, I’d love feedback once you’ve tried this out with your best furry friend, any questions or comments are welcome using the box below.