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  • Writer's pictureLyndsey MacKinnon

How To Teach Your Dog Not to Jump up!

Let’s start by stating that jumping up is a completely natural and normal, inherited behaviour displayed by dogs for many reasons and it is usually highly reinforced by us when they are cute little puppies. This can be quite confusing for our dogs when they get a little bit bigger and our response changes to their jumping up.

Why Dogs Jump Up:

1. For attention and reinforcement. Ourselves, our guests and even strangers we meet on dog walks can inadvertently reinforce jumping up by giving the dog a big fuss and lots of treats, resulting in the dog learning that jumping up is what they are SUPPOSED to do!

2. Our treat placement. Dogs are extremely efficient and very quickly learn that whenever they receive a treat, it is handed down to them by their owner. Why not jump up to get the treat a little faster?

3. They love our sweaty bits! As grim as it may be, dogs just love the salty sweaty bits and want to get near our faces for a lick! It is also where we EAT and of course they want a sniff of that cheese toastie you just ate!

4. They are expressing a need. This could be that they are nervous and need a little reassurance or that they are excited and want to give you some kisses!

5. They LOVE you!

The Problem with Jumping up:

Of course, some of us don’t actually mind being wiped out by 70lb Labrador; however, we need to consider some of the main issues we may encounter if our dog jumps up.

1. Some people are scared of dogs. If someone already has a fear of dogs, having a dog jumping up to try and lick their face could be extremely frightening for them.

2. I’m sure we can agree that having dirty paw prints all over our new white outfit would be most unwelcome.

3. Children may be hurt or scared. This is a big one and must be taken very seriously. We wouldn’t ever want our dogs to jump up on children and in any way hurt or frighten them. This is especially the case with those razor blade puppy teeth and claws!

How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping Up:

Many will advise you to simply ignore your dog for jumping up. This is certainly one part of the solution, however if you only turn your back on your dog every time they jump up, you may find that the behaviour actually worsens. This is simply because jumping up has previously worked and resulted in attention. Suddenly your dog is getting zero attention so increased the jumping up to try even HARDER to get that attention. Eventually you will feel so bad that your dog is getting so stressed, you will give in and give them a cuddle. We don’t want frustration building up in our dogs, we just want them to find an alternative behaviour to get our attention.

1. Make sure jumping up is not reinforced. Make sure all friends and family are on board with this part to ensure that training is consistent. If your dog is getting lots of cuddles and kisses every time one family members comes home, they will continue to try their luck with everyone else as it was so fun!

2. What behaviour would we rather they do instead? Typically, we want to encourage our dogs to opt for one of our ‘Mutually Exclusive Behaviours’. If they are doing on of these, they cannot physically be displaying the unwanted behaviour e.g., if they are in a nice ‘Sit’, they cannot be jumping up. Now let’s heavily reinforce them for this new, alternative behaviour.

3. When you arrive home, ignore the jumping up for a few seconds. Your dog may automatically try a ‘sit’ if jumping up hasn’t worked which would then be followed by kisses and cuddles from you. If they haven’t quite understood that they need to put their paws on the floor to receive attention, ask for a ‘sit’ and reinforce with a nice treat! Ask everyone to do this before greeting your dog.

4. Start feeding them treats on the ground. They quickly learn that the treat will be coming to the ground, so it serves no purpose for them to jump up and try and snatch it from your hand!

5. NEVER punish your dog for jumping up! We know how embarrassing this can be, but punishment can lead to your dog feeling anxious or confused, which could lead to more jumping up in an attempt to remedy the situation somehow. Punishment can also lead to other behavioural issues developing.

Prepare for Success

The more a dog performs a behaviour, the better they get at it! Control and management can be put in place to minimize your dog’s ability to perform an unwanted behaviour e.g., your dog keeps barking at people walking past the window? Pop some window film up so they can’t see the people anymore! Dog keeps running away? Keep them on a long line at all times!

This stage is super important to succeed when training your dog not to jump up! So, what can we do to manage this?

1. Pop a barrier in between guests coming in the house and your dog to prevent your dog from rehearing this unwanted jumping up behaviour. This can be a baby gate or dog pen. Give your dog an activity to do on the other side of the gate when guests come in e.g., scatter some food down for them to find, give them a kong or a snuffle mat.

2. Keep your dog on the other side of the gate whilst you/ your guests ask for a ‘sit’. Wait until your dog has calmed down a little before entering.

3. Have a treat station ready by the front door for anyone coming in to grab a handful when asking your dog for a ‘sit’ before being greeted / to scatter feed on the ground. Make sure this is regularly stocked up!

4. Keep your dog on a lead and gently walk them away from guests if they are immediately jumping up and not able to sit down. They are probably a little too excited and we don’t want them rehearsing this behaviour!

Always remember that when it comes to training your dog not to jump up, consistency is key.

1. Put management in place so your dog cannot PHYSICALLY perform this behaviour

2. Do not reinforce jumping up

3. Highly reinforce an alternative behaviour e.g., sit

Don’t worry if your dog is too excited to sit, just ask guests to grab some treats from the treat station and scatter them on the floor. Your dog’s head will be down whilst they try and find the food which means they will have all 4 paws on the floor!
Be sure to tag us in your attempts @caninepawtential – let’s see those lovely greetings!

Happy Training!

Lyndsey Durand

Head Trainer & Co-Founder

Canine Pawtential

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