Jumping is a lot of fun for our dogs, but generally not so much fun for us. While it’s a lot of fun for our dogs, it often results in scratches, head-butts or even knocking us over. For starters, dogs do this because they want to get closer to our faces. We’re a bit taller than our dogs so in order to get closer to us, they generally jump up. When there is a lot of excitement involved it can get a bit out of control. Depending on who you talk to or what link you click on, you’ll get advice such as completely ignoring your dog, bringing your knee up to their chest or even stomping on their back feet. To be honest, none of this sounds like much fun for anyone involved. The last thing I want to do is stomp on my dog’s feet or knee them in the chest. I think it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of pet parents feel the same way. To decrease jumping, we need to teach what behavior we’d like instead. This could be a sit or a stand. The next thing we need to do is practice this outside of the problem context. This means that 10+ times per day you’ll want to step outside and then back in, call your dog to you and ask for the behavior, followed by a food reward. The food reward part is very important for the practice sessions because most likely your attention isn’t going to be motivating enough when you’re doing this over and over. When you actually get home after being gone for a while, you’ll be able to give your dog all the love that they’re after as the reward for not jumping.
This means that 10+ times per day you’ll want to step outside and then back in, call your dog to you and ask for the behavior, followed by a food reward.
Now that we’ve talked about how to practice, let's dive into a real scenario.
After being gone for a few hours, you open your door and ask for the behavior you’ve been practicing. If you’ve practiced enough, there is a good chance it’s going to happen. When it happens, go ahead and give all the love and praise you want to give. If at any point your dog jumps, you have a couple options: 1. Stop giving the love and praise and ask for the behavior again and then start giving the love and praise once it happens. 2. Step away and be out of reach. This could be over a gate or back out of the door you came in from. Wait 20-30 seconds, return and try again. Consistency is going to be key here. Without it, we’ll be sending mixed signals and rewarding jumping. As long as you’re consistent, you should see a change in a behavior in as little as a couple weeks.