Jumping on guests is one of the most common complaints I hear from dog owners (second only to pulling on the leash.) Jumping up on people, whether the door, the dinner table, or just about anywhere else, is a very common (and very frustrating) problem.
First, it needs to be stressed that dogs jump on people as a means of greeting them – they jump to get to our face, because face or mouth licking is an “appeasement gesture” made by one dog to another – and because it gets them attention. It has absolutely nothing to do with “dominance”, regardless of what some might say, and harsh corrections can easily change what is intended to be a friendly greeting (by the dog) into fearful or aggressive behavior.
That being said, here are five easy ways to stop your dog from jumping on people:
- Don’t react! Pushing the dog away and raising our voice is a natural response to having a dog jump on us, but it only makes matters worse by giving the dog attention for his behavior and adding anxiety and excitement to the situation. Your best bet is to just calm down – take a deep breath, turn your back, and wait for the dog to relax a bit, too.
- Ignore your dog’s jumping. I recommend this frequently, and so do most other trainers, but clients typically report that it “doesn’t work.” There’s a very good reason for it “not” working: most people don’t really ignore the behavior completely; instead, they make “exceptions” for certain people or specific situations, but all this does is make the behavior more persistent and difficult to get rid of.
- Teach a Rock Solid Sit! When trying to get rid of an annoying behavior, it’s extremely helpful to teach your dog something incompatible with that behavior. Your dog cannot jump while sitting, so make sure that sitting is your dog’s go-to behavior.
- Teach polite greeting behavior. For most dogs, staying seated while greeting someone is difficult, so if your dog has a hard time mastering that, try this one instead: teach your dog to touch the person’s hand. This gives your dog an opportunity to investigate and also gives your dog a “job” to do – something to focus on doing other than jumping!
- Manage, manage, manage. In the early stages of training, it is essential that you manage your dog’s behavior. Inform guests that they should ignore your dog’s jumping completely. Remember that every single time your dog jumps, she’s practicing bad behavior. If you think your dog or your guests may have difficulties, manage the situation by keeping her on a leash or (better yet) crating or otherwise confining her. You can either wait until your guests (and your dog) are settled to let her out (on a leash to prevent jumping), or you can keep her confined to prevent her from practicing all together!
Please keep in mind that you’ll probably need to use more than one of these techniques at a time, for example, you’ll probably need to manage your dog’s behavior and ignore jumping, or both ignore jumping and teaching your dog polite greetings.
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