If you have been a dog owner for any length of time you know that a dog jumping on you or others can be be frustrating and embarrassing. I know the situation all to well, you come home from a long day at work, you walk into the front door and boom, your greeted with a big wet kiss sharp paws running down your arms or torso, ouch! Or even worse your smaller child get caught in the excitement and gets knocked over and scratched as well.
Well, I am sorry, but this could be all your fault. Let me explain:
Many unknowing dog owners encourage this behavior early in a puppies life. It’s hard to resist a cute little puppy who is happy to see you. He comes running to meet you, leaps at your knees and what do we you? We reach down and pet or even pitch up the happy puppy and in effect, reword his behavior of jumping on us.
You have just taught your puppy a very nice lesson, if he runs up to you and jumps on your foot or knee he can get praise and affection. Fast foreword a few months and now that little puppy is as much as 5 or 6 times the size that he was, but still thinking like a puppy, (“if I jump on my owner he will give me love”). He does not know the difference between his puppy size, of say 4 or 5lbs and his new size of maybe 30 or 40lbs or more, not to mention he is taller now and can reach up to your arms or chest. All he knows is that he wants the praise and affection that he has missed all day long and you taught him how to get it, by jumping.
Is jumping ever acceptable?
You have to make it perfectly clear that jumping is unacceptable. Although owners of small breed dogs or “toy” dog breeds may expect their dog to jump, (this is totally up to you) but jumping on an unsuspecting guest could get things off on the wrong foot. That is why, if you do allow your dog to jump, you should at least work the command “off” into it’s training.
For larger dog breeds, there really is no debate on this matter. You should either never allow him to jump or at the very least work the “off” or “no jump” command in to their regular training. After all it is one thing to have to deal with scrapes or soiled cloths due to your own dog, it is quite another to have to deal with him jumping on a guest or stranger.
Generally, there are two reasons why dogs jump.
The number one reason dogs jump is most likely out of pure excitement after a long separation (returning home from work) or during playtime when adrenaline is running high.
The number two reason dogs jump is a bit more complicated and serous. It has to do with dominance. Dogs social order comes from a pack mentality and the only way to move up the ranks in a pack is to show physical superiority over the lesser animal. Dogs often demonstrate their superiority over other dogs by mounting or jumping on the lesser dogs back or shoulders.
That’s all well and good, but why is my dog jumping on me and how do I stop this behavior? First off, lets determine which type of jumping problem we are dealing with. This is pretty simple: If your dog jumps on you or anyone else out side of an excited welcome or high energy playtime, your dog is trying to dominate you or the person that he is jumping on. This will have to be dealt with in a much different way and you should bone up on your alpha dog techniques. (Tip: Secrets to dog training has a great course on dog behavior problems, you can find the link at the bottom of this page.)
Stop your dog from jumping on you.
Your actions are key to eliminating this annoying and possibly dangerous habit of your dogs. As with most all dog training consistency in your training will speed up his learning curve and prove to be more reliable. To stop dog jumping you have to make it clear to your dog that jumping is no longer tolerated.
This means sticking to your training plan every day until there is not longer a problem. Your dog will not stop jumping on you if you allow it one day and not the next or allow him to jump on you but not your children. If you send this message to your dog he will jump when ever he feels like it.
This means that you must fallow your stop jumping techniques always. You can’t expect your dog to understand the difference between playtime and greeting, nice cloths and play cloths, rainy days or sunny days. If you let your dog jump at anytime, he will feel free to jump whenever he feels like it.
Most professional trainers agree that the most effective way is also the easiest way to stop unwanted behavior (such as jumping) in your dog is to ignore him whenever he jumps. No need to yell or correct, although that is usually the first thing that comes to mind when your dog just ruined another pair of nylons or scratch one of your children.
When your dog jumps on you or is about to jump on you, turn your back to him and ignore this behavior. As soon as he has all four paws on the ground praise him. If he goes to jump again turn your back, cross your arms and face away.
This technique works really well because dogs actually study and understand body language more so than the spoken word.
Again, as soon as he has all four paws back on the ground praise him lavishly. Don’t worry that you may be confusing him, dogs have a very short “training memory” and they can only comprehend the reaction you give to his behavior at that moment.
Continue this cycle and you will notice that he will clam down rather quickly.
To learn more about dog training basics Stop by Matt Closson’s site where you can find out all about leash training a dog and how you can get a free 6 day training course.