by Sierra Hampl
“I can barely walk in the door my dog is jumping so much!”
These are all complaints we’ve heard from clients and I’d like to help you lay the foundation to decrease your dog’s jumping. Most often, a dog jumps because it is excited and is seeking attention. Of course you want to give your dog attention, and the people who visit your home most likely want to pet your dog, but a dog scratching arms and legs and acting like a bouncy ball isn’t a pleasant greeting, nor does it incite compassion from a human. More often, owners are compelled to yell at the dog, “no! Get down! Stop doing that!” or even push the dog down. Without realizing it, these are all forms of reinforcement for the jumping. If you’ve taken any of our classes, you will notice that we ignore all jumping or ask for alternative behaviors (like a ‘sit’ for example) and that is that what this post will help you learn to do at home.
In dog training we have two basic tools: management and training.
For our jumpers, we do have management options:
However, most people want their dog to participate in all activities. After all, they are part of the family, too! This is where training and management can work together. For most of these activities, you can have your dog on leash. If you incorporate mat work with polite greetings, we do recommend that your dog is on leash when visitors arrive. Let’s dig in to our training tools.
Mat Work – Jumpers need a space to settle. To signify to our dog that it’s time to hold a down-stay for duration, we use a mat. This can be a very inexpensive bath or kitchen mat or even the yoga mat that’s buried in your basement (not that mine is buried in my basement or anything like that). Here are the steps you will follow.
To see Kevin demonstrate this, check out this video:
Go Say Hi - We teach this in most of our classes and with consistency and repetition, your dog will begin to generalize that four paws on the floor equals a pet and a food reward. Try practicing this with as many people as possible. If you have several family members, rotate the handler and the greeter this way the dog has practice greeting several different people. When you’re out and about with your dog, get in the habit of every time someone asks to pet your dog, you cue your dog, “Spot, Go say hi!”. Most people are willing participants when told a dog or puppy is in training. Kids especially love to help out and give treats, so don’t be shy about telling the people you encounter that your dog is in training and they could really help you out by asking for a sit and rewarding, or at the very least, waiting until you have your dog in a sit. It may be that your dog is extremely social, and in this case it will help to have a very high value food item in your treat pouch this way the dog is motivated by the food you have in hand, more than the chance to jump on the stranger. Recruit a helper to practice the following:·
Check out a demonstration of Go Say Hi:
Sit-Stay No Matter What - This a great way to proof your dog’s sit-stay. You never know how someone will approach your dog. Someone may walk up with a cane, a child may bounce or run toward your dog, so this activity helps train your dog to hold their sit no matter what!
Airplane Game - If you’ve ever fed a six month old, you may have pretended the spoon was an airplane landing in the mouth with something yummy on the end. This is a similar idea, except we are training impulse control. The dog must stay in a sit to earn the treat. Here’s what you should do:
Touch or Hand Targeting - this is a wonderful tool for moving your dog through space. If you see your dog is about to jump on someone, you can cue a touch and move the dog’s body and attention back toward you. Touch is incredibly easy to teach your dog and you guys can have a lot of fun with this little trick.
Check out this video by Kelly Duggan:
We understand how frustrating it is to have a dog who is prone to jumping. With these training tools and a little bit of management, you will be well on your way to training alternative behaviors to jumping. Dogs are social beings and want to be with us, and near us. In fact, they jump to get closer to faces, but it’s important to respect the fact that not everyone enjoys having a dog jump on them and maybe you’re just fed up with your dog jumping on you. So grab some treats and start practicing these tools to implement the next time you have a guest or meet someone on a walk. Let us know how it goes and if you have any questions!