Dogs jumping up is a completely normal behaviour, however it is often at the top of everyone’s list of behaviours that they would like to stop.
Dogs jump up as it is a way that they greet each other.
It is also an easy behaviour to reinforce and can fast become a habit that gets the dog exactly what they want!!
When you start your training journey it is often recommended to reward the good behaviours and ignore the bad. However, jumping up is a very hard behaviour to ignore and depending upon the dog depends on what would happen next.
Another tip often given is to turn your back to the dog – again this is often futile as the dog then just jumps up your back.
What can you do to help your dog to prevent them from jumping up?
- Teach a nose touch to the hand – If you teach your dog to touch your hand with their nose and reward when you meet new people you can ask them to present a flat palm for the dog to touch their nose to the palm. You reward the dog afterwards. If you find that this is too exciting a target stick is a great starting point as these can extend out quite far to give you a bigger working space.
- Sit/Down – when you stop and say hello to people always ask a sit or for a bigger dog to lie down. This is to create a different habit to jumping up. If you want to talk to the person for a little while scattering treats on the floor is a great way to keep your dog entertained.
- Do not allow everyone to say hello or stroke your dog – this is to help your dog to anticipate that not everyone is to say hello too. Even if people do stop to speak to you ask them to ignore your dog.
- Practice training around people as much as possible to make their presence near your dog as boring as possible.
- Ask friends to help you with training approaching speaking to you in a high-pitched voice to get your dog used to all the different situations that they may come across when out and about walking.
- If you are working in the home set yourself up to be successful and if necessary initially pop your dog on their lead. This is just so that they do not practice jumping up.
- Teach body awareness skills onto alternative objects so that they can use their legs in other ways to channel the jumping up.
- If your dog is jumping up at you – do not say ‘no’ or ‘off’ as this is reinforcing for the dog. Jumping is often an attention seeking behaviour and by saying something it gives the dog the attention that they want even if it is negative. As dogs do not understand what we are saying to them.
- Train in as many different environments as possible as dogs do not generalise very well.
- Be consistent – this is crucial!
When trying to phase out jumping up it is all about creating new habits for your dog that you can reinforce. It is important to set you and your dog up for success so that they do not get a chance to jump. Jumping up is a very self-rewarding behaviour and is very easy for it to become a habit they will keep practicing the behaviour if they think that they have the opportunity too.
Jumping up can be an incredibly hard to phase out especially if you have a dog that really enjoys performing the behaviour. This is where you have to become a little bit of a detective and have a look at what motivates your dog to work. Building in a stronger motivator for your other than jumping up explore what they love – high value treats, tug toys, smells, physical or verbal praise.
When you are training pay well! If your dog is struggling break down what you are asking them to do into the smallest of possible steps. If they get stuck it is OK to help them out I usually do a quick focus game and build from there.
Think about where you take your dog training and set them up for success. If you do not see people regularly then you all of a sudden see a person, it is more likely to be more exciting for your dog which is more likely when you will see jumping up.
Do not allow people to encourage your dog to jump up at them! There is nothing worse than when you hear ‘I don’t mind!” well I DO! It is your dog when you approach a person if they ask to say hello give them rules if they do not follow them walk away. I often see owners get frazzled by this as humans we are social beings and sometimes find it awkward walking away especially because everyone wants a sociable dog. It is OK to have boundaries in place with your dog.
I find equipment can sometimes help especially the embroidered ‘Training’ leads as if people see that it often makes them enquire what training you are doing which gives you the chance to explain how you want them to engage with your dog.
Set yourself goals to work towards so say your dog jumps up at ten people when you go out work toward seven then four then two. Do not expect it to go from ten to zero in one training session. It is important to be realistic!
Know your dog – there will be people that your dog knows that they find more exciting than others. These are the people that are great to practice with even if they know your dog already. Ask them to follow your rules to make it as easy as possible for your dog to get it right.
The most important thing is to be consistent! Have fun with your training.