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Is Ignoring Jumping A Good Idea?

About 8 years ago I went into a client’s home and told them that I was going to ignore their dog’s jumping. The dog was a young Golden Retriever that really, really liked people. I instructed them to go ahead and let him out of the room so we could start the training. They let him out and he proceeded to jump up on me for 4-5 straight minutes all while I ignored him. Eventually the jumping stopped, but was this the best way to handle it? Ignoring can technically work. The idea is to remove what the dog wants for the unwanted behavior. If a behavior has just started and hasn’t received much reinforcement, ignoring could be a quick way to put an end to it. But if a behavior has been reinforced a lot, ignoring can be tough and may not work because eventually the person gives in and stops ignoring.

Jumping generally will not be solved by ignoring it. For some dogs, the act of jumping and making contact with a person is fun enough- especially if the person is spinning in circles trying to keep their back to the dog. So even if they’re being ignored, the behavior may still continue. I no longer go into homes and allow dogs to jump and wait for them to stop. To speed up this process, and to ensure that there isn’t any reinforcement for jumping, we use a leash as a preventative tool. Along with some prevention, the focus is on asking for what we’d like the dog to do. This is where an incompatible behavior comes into play. Any behavior could be considered incompatible as long as it can’t be paired with a jump. A dog can’t sit or stand and jump at the same time. If your dog is pretty solid at one, I would recommend using it. Once you’ve asked for the behavior and it’s happened, you’ll need to provide a reward. Food is the easiest thing to use when teaching this. In the long run, you may actually be able to use the person’s attention as the reward since that’s what’s motivating the jumping in the first place. Jumping can happen in many scenarios. The best way to stop it is to prevent it from happening and to ask for more appropriate behaviors.

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