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Jumping Up In Dogs

How to easily eliminate this common behavior in dogs

 

MetPet.com Staff Writer

We have heard many ideas about how to prevent dogs from jumping up on people.  They range from stepping on the dog's back feet, forcefully kneeing the dog in the chest, squeezing his front paws or holding onto his paws.  These methods rely on the 'punishment' model of behavior modification and require skill and timing to have the desired effect.  As with all 'punishments' the effect on the dog is unpredictable.  They can cause both human and canine distress and we feel they are unnecessary. 

Dogs are very social animals, which is why we love them so much.  They spend a great deal of time observing our faces and look for social cues in our facial expressions.  Our faces are very important to dogs.   Dogs jump up to greet people face-to-face. They jump up to get our attention. They jump up because they have been left all alone for hours and are besides themselves with joy that you are home.

Some dogs jump up and place their paws on people.  Other dogs simply jump straight up into the air and pant happily in your face.  Some dogs scratch your legs with nervous glee. This type of jumping up in dogs is different from dogs jumping up to snatch something from your hands.  That is a dangerous and very bad behavior that requires a fast 'OFF' correction. 

Jumping up in dogs is very common especially with puppies and young adults.  It is cute when the puppy is 10 pounds but dangerous when the dog is 80 pounds.  Dogs that jump up on people can scratch, bruise or even knock someone over.  They can spill our hot coffee, crush our groceries or frighten us half to death.  In either case, jumping up in dogs is an unwanted behavior and we should eliminate it as soon as possible.

The key is to anticipate the behavior and prevent it.  If you can consistently eliminate your dog's need to jump up and any reward for doing so, your dog will grow out of this habit. 

Stay Calm
Here are two different methods that work when done consistently.  With any method you choose, greet your dog quietly.  An excited dog is much more likely to jump up than a calm one.  Your dog will take social cues from your behavior.  If you yell, scream, greet your dog excitedly he will return the favor. 

If you were trying to get a dog to jump up on you, you would raise your hands high over your head and yell or squeal excitedly.  You might clap your hands and say his name repeatedly.  If you want to prevent having a dog jump up on you, you want to do just the opposite.  You want to remain calm and relaxed, keep your shoulders and arms down, keep your movements slow and lazy, yawn on occasion and avoid making any fast moves. 

Although it is not necessary, it is much easier to get a dog to stop jumping up if he already knows how to sit and stay quickly on command.  Since a dog cannot sit and jump up at the same time, a dog that sits and stays as a greeting to people is a dog that does not jump up on people. 

Two-Person Method
You need your dog on a leash plus another person to act as "jumpee."  The jumpee gets your dog into jumping mode by entering through the front door or simply walking up to him in a friendly manner.  As your dog approaches and before he has a chance to jump up say, "Rex, sit"  

If Rex is too excited to sit, you may have to pop (pull sharply and then immediately release) the leash quickly to get his attention as you say this.  The sharp pop interrupts his excitement so that he can focus and pay attention.  Rex sits and the jumpee then kneels or leans down to pet Rex under the chin. You have greeted Rex and he no longer needs to jump up.

If Rex does not know how to sit on command or is too excited to sit, he can still be greeted as long as all four paws remain on the ground.  In order to enhance this experience and reward calm behavior, you can slip Rex a treat when he is calmly sitting or standing. 

One-Person Method
If Rover bowls you over every time you come home, you can anticipate this and prevent him from doing so.  Before you enter your front door, put down everything so you have both hands free.  Open the door, immediately close it behind you and then kneel or bend down to greet Rover before he can jump up.  After his frenetic greetings are over, you can go outside and retrieve your packages again.  As with any other behavior, you can mark his good behavior with a treat when he is calmly sitting or standing. 

If Rover can sit and stay on command, he can be taught to sit each time you come into the door.  Many young dogs, especially those left in the house for long stretches of time, can be too excited to hold a sit-stay so you have to take that into consideration and have some patience. 

If your dog never has any reason or opportunity to jump up on anyone, he will eventually grow out of the habit. 

 

 

 
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