Teach Your Dog to Stop Jumping in 5 Steps
By Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology — Del Mar Dog Training
Does your dog jump on you as if she’s in training for the Olympics and you are the trampoline? Squirting squirt guns and shaking cans of marbles are no fun for you or your dog, and they don’t produce lasting results. Reprimands have little effect and may backfire or cause aggression. For pet parents who prefer positive-only training, stepping on toes, kneeing the chest, electric shock, or yanking a chain are simply not options. What’s a pet parent to do?
Whether your dog has been jumping up on you for years, or you have a new puppy in training, try these dog-friendly techniques to help Sparky keep his Four on the Floor.
- Confine to calm. Give your dog the time and space to calm down before you attempt any greeting. If you and your guests get pounced on, confine your pup until you can bring him out on leash and allow greetings to unfold naturally. Start with managing your dog’s environment in order to get things under control. Confine your dog to an ex-pen, the patio, a guest room, or your kitchen with a retractable gate.
- Ignore to calm. Delay greetings until your dog is calm. Stop escalating the adrenaline spike your dog experiences the you arrive home. Walk into your home, check your messages and go about your routine as if your dog were not there. No talking, no touching. Later, greet with calm affection, rather than exuberant excitement. Many dogs stop jumping when this technique alone is consistently employed.. but it can be the hardest one for pet parents to implement!
- Give affection for behavior you want to reinforce, and withdraw affection for behavior you don’t want to reinforce. Pet, praise, and treat for Four on the Floor – withdraw touch, words, and eye contact for jumping.When Sparky jumps up on you, fold your arms and turn away from him. No talking, no touching. Walk away. The instant Sparky has Four on the Floor, pet him, tell him he’s a “Good Sparky,” and give him a yummy treat. If he jumps up, stop petting and stand up straight. These repetitions will lead to a “light bulb moment” for Sparky. If you are patient, he will figure it out. From his point of view, jumping up hits your “go away” button, whereas sitting hits your “pet” button! If you touch Sparky, or make excited sounds when he jumps up on you, you are teaching him that jumping is fun. If you occasionally greet him with affection when he jumps on you, but you occasionally get upset when he jumps on you, you are sending him mixed messages. Help Sparky understand you by sending him a clear message and consistent feedback on every jump.
- Give your dog something to do besides jumping on you. If Sparky is about to leap into your arms uninvited, ask him to “Sit!” Pet, praise, and treat him immediately. Your dog can’t sit and jump at the same time. Alternatively, you can teach him to burn off his energy and jump up to touch the hand of your outstretched arm, or run to the dog-cookie jar! If your dog comes rushing at you from a distance and you would like to teach an alternate behavior to jumping that will allow your dog to expend some energy, teach your dog to target your hand held palm down, at the height of your dog’s head, a few inches away from your body. Pet your dog when s/he reaches your hand as long as your dog does not jump on you. Wiggles allowed!
- Time-outs. Lastly, if your dog jumps up on you or your guests, just remove him. Effective time-outs rely on your instant reaction. Time-outs provide a consequence for jumping: Sparky thinks, “The fun and interaction stop when I jump.” Time-outs also allow your dog time to calm down so you can try again. However, pre-empting jumping with the other techniques is far better! If you practice consistently over time, the payoff is well worth the time you spent teaching Sparky how to remain calm and receive affection, rather than inadvertently reinforcing jumping as you may now be doing.
Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” M.A./Psychology a Top Ten Rated U.S. Dog Trainer — Del Mar Dog Training, may be reached at 858.259.9663 (WOOF) or by email: LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private manners/obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at DogPsychologistOnCall.com Linda is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs. All rights reserved. Originally published in the Rancho Santa Fe Review.
Top 10 Things to Teach Your Dog. By Linda Michaels, M.A., Rancho Santa Fe Review.
Pet Parenting Positively Part 1. By Linda Michaels, M.A.
Pet Parenting Positively, Part 2. By Linda Michaels, M.A.