My Dog Jumps on People When They Come Over
Professional dog trainer Jenn Guerriero of Big City Dogs offers tips on how to get your lovable dog to stop jumping on your guests.
Q: My dog likes to jump on people when they come to visit. Can you help me?
A: First of all, dogs are social so they get excited when someone enters their immediate environment. They want to get close and check us out. However, oftentimes we inadvertently reinforce their behaviors by simply touching them at the moment of their jumping up. Sometimes we pet them when they jump. This is a nice feeling to them so the jump is actually getting reinforced.
Sometimes, if we're not interested in the attention right then and there we try to push them away with our hands. Again, our touch reinforces the behavior at the moment the behavior is occurring. They can't make the difference out between the two, even if we are saying ...NO....GET DOWN...GET OFF.
Our words don't line up with our physical touch and now the dog is confused. If you don't want the dog to jump up on you or anyone else when greeting, then you have to make the rule and stick to it.
If you are the type of person who actually enjoys your dog jumping up on you, but don't want him to jump up on anyone else, then I always suggest making it a command and only allow the dog to do it when you ask for it on command. I like to use the word "HUGS" for this command. So how do we get the dog to stop jumping? This is where you might find different answers depending on the dog trainer. There are some who believe that by simply ignoring the behavior the dog will stop jumping. By all means, I would welcome that to anyone who wants to try it and if it works GREAT! However, if it doesn't work, and you've been doing that for months and have run out of patience, then you can continue reading for some other alternatives.
The next time you know that someone is coming over, put a leash on your dog in the house. Let him drag it around for a little while, but make sure he doesn't chew it (that's a no-no!).
When your guest enters the house have your dog right next to you with your foot on the leash. Make sure there isn't a lot of slack in the leash...he should be able to stand up without any stress or pressure from the leash but that's about all. When the dog tries to jump he won't actually get far at all because he'll get a perfectly timed, painless leash correction which will keep him on the ground. He may try to jump again and perhaps again, but each time the leash keeps him on the ground. You will see that he finally gives up and doesn't want to jump anymore.
Now that he is all-four-on-the-floor, you can have your guest bend down to pet him (if they are inclined to do so). Still keep your foot on that leash. If he jumps again while they make their way down to see him, have your guest stop petting until he is back on the floor and get your foot settings straight on the leash again.
Dogs are pretty smart. They will get the picture if you do this consistently. You'll find that he doesn't even want to offer the behavior of jumping anymore. You haven't broken his spirit. Instead, you have successfully showed him how to respond to guests entering your home.
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