Excessive jumping can be frustrating. It can also be problematic if it’s happening to the wrong person. Jumping is a normal behavior and generally is a sign of joy. If you’ve got a jumper and you’re looking to decrease that jumping, you’ll want to continue reading. The overall recipe to put a stop to jumping is to prevent it from happening and also to put a new behavior in place of the jumping. Prevention comes in many forms. You can use a leash or a gate to prevent access to a guest until you’re ready. There are also many different behaviors or sequences of behaviors that you can teach that are incompatible with jumping. Where to start: If you’re having a guest over and you know that when they walk in your dog is going to jump you’ll need to prevent it. Either have your dog on leash or have them behind a gate. Invite the person in and wait for your dog to calm down before they get to greet the person. To help with this, try giving your dog something to work on like a stuffed Kong or a long lasting chew. Doing so helps divert their focus onto something else and as a result decreases excitement. Also, because the thing you’re giving is motivating it helps provide some enrichment which is very important. Next: Now that your dog is calmer you’re ready to try the greeting. The overall rule should be that 4 feet on the floor results in access to the person and anything else removes access. Ahead of time, plan out what behavior you’d like your dog to do to gain access. (Walk with a loose leash and sit, walk with a loose leash and touch the guest’s hand with their nose etc.) Practice that with family members in your home if possible to give your dog a “leg up.” Now that your dog is a bit calmer, give it a go. Know that it may not work the first time, and that’s okay. If your dog starts to jump you’ll want to remove their access to the person. This could mean bringing them away a few feet or even placing them back behind the gate to try again a few minutes later. Consistency is key here. What you’re doing is leveraging what it is that your dog wants. (The person.) By following this formula you’re teaching your dog that they must do X behavior in order to get the reward of greeting the person. Jumping is a natural behavior for dogs and it’s easy in theory to modify but it takes time and consistency because we need to convince our dogs that doing the natural thing no longer works and doing the “unnatural” thing is now the answer.
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