14
Jun 10

No More Jumping Up!

Jumping up is one of the most common problems people have with their dogs. It is actually rooted in social behavior, in the way our dogs relate to people. The start of the problem goes all the way back to our habit of carrying puppies around, instead of putting them on leash as soon as possible and making them keep all four feet on the floor. Hence they get used to the feeling of being up close to our face, and still long for that type of contact even when they are older. Jumping on favorite people is very common in all types of dogs. Jumping up to greet visitors is more common in highly social breeds, such as retrievers. A more aloof type of dog, such as an Akita or a Chow, is usually not tempted to jump up on strangers.

It is not difficult to find advice on how to cure jumping problems. From your next door neighbor, to your veterinarian, to the trainer in the local pet supply store, all are full of advice. With all this advice readily available, why do dog trainers' phones ring every day, with folks begging for help because their dog is jumping all over people?

The answer is fairly simple. Traditional advice is flawed. It either focuses totally on teaching the dog to sit instead of jump (I'll tell you in a moment why this is not the total cure) or it focuses totally on a punishment administered after the behavior has already occurred. It leaves out the two important things--one, prevention is the best cure and two, we must teach our dogs to look to us for direction and protection instead of allowing them to make their own decisions. No one lets their children run up and jump into a stranger's arms . Kids always must look to their parents for permission before they approach anyone. Why should our dogs be any different?


How do we get to this point? In dog training books promoting positive methods, the most popular approach is to ignore the jumping up. If the behavior is given absolutely no attention, we are told that eventually the dog will quit jumping. While doing this (ignoring the behavior), your dog will be jumping, so he is obtaining more practice, getting more in the habit of, jumping up. Even if you turn your back, determined jumpers often simply jump on your back side


Other common advice is to lure the dog into a sit with a cookie, and ask our visitors to ignore the jumping up behavior, and reward the dog's sit with a treat. What if our dog is not food-motivated, or perhaps is so excited about visitors that he ignores the treats? Our visitors may not be savvy enough to know how to do this properly (everyone, not just the dog's owner, must be consistent with this approach). Or they may be so taken aback by a huge muscular dog jumping on them that they are afraid to reach out and lure the dog into a sit with a cookie. A better approach is to put the whole problem of jumping into the paradigm that I use for solving any type of canine behavior. Let's go through these steps quickly:


1. Identify the triggers for the behavior. Think through the times that your dog is most likely to jump on someone. Normally this will be when he is in a high state of arousal, such as when you have first returned from being away, or when a visitor has rung the doorbell. Also, realize that own body language or excited verbal greetings also can trigger jumping behaviors.


2. Avoid the triggers when possible until the dog is trained. For example, if you know that your dog loves to jump up on little people, don't take him to "show and tell" at your child's school until you have him perfectly under your control. If your dog gets so excited by the doorbell that he leaps all over visitors, simply prevent this (until he is trained) by not allowing him access to the door everyone comes in. Put him in a comfy crate or with his toys in a back room, and bring him out later, after your visitors have settled in. When you do bring him out, snap his leash on as soon as he starts out of the crate and keep him under your control until you are sure he is calm enough to resist the temptation to jump.


3. Teach a replacement behavior that is incompatible with the inappropriate behavior. For example, a dog cannot sit and jump up at the same time. However, I have found that teaching dogs a reliable four-on-the-floor command, such as the stand for exam works even better than the sit (for curing jumpers).  This simply means that the dog must stand, in one place, for petting, the same as he might be taught if he were at a dog show and the judge was examining him. If you would like tips on exactly how to teach this, please read the Article (under Training) entitled "Your Dog's Feet".


4. Choose an appropriate consequence for choosing not to obey. Once your dog has been thoroughly trained to sit or perform a stand-stay, but chooses instead to try to jump on someone, he should receive an effective correction. Corrections do not come after the event, but preferably just as the dog is "thinking" about jumping, so that it prevents the jump. Then quickly re-direct him back to what you have asked him to do. Use of a slip lead, or a slip collar, to give the dog a quick collar correction can easily interrupt the behavior and help the dog to re-focus on you. It is important to give the collar correction to the side, or downward, as opposed to pulling upwards. Don't feel guilty about teaching your dog what the word "no" or "stop" means. But anything verbal needs to be simple and quick, not loud or exciting (which will just up the dog's adrenaline level, making the problem worse). Like Cesar of National Geographic's Dog Whisperer fame says over and over - be calm and assertive. Loud angry corrections can either frighten our dogs, make them more excited or simply make them think we are losing control. A calm but firm "no" paired with a leash correction, then a redirect "Fido, stand....stay" works much better.


5. After your dog is reliable on the sit and stand commands at home, "proof" the exercises by practicing under distracting conditions in varying locations.. Set him up for success by keeping him on leash and practicing at least a couple of times a day for approximately a month. Keep your dog on a leash no longer than 4 feet, and do NOT give him the full length of the leash when someone approaches. It takes 21-28 day of repetition for something to start becoming an automatic behavior, meaning that the dog will just do it automatically, without thinking. We want our dogs to immediately go into proper greeting mode, like stand for petting or sit for attention, as soon as someone is allowed to approach them for greeting.


6. The most important thing in solving jumping on other people is teaching your dog that he must look to you for guidance BEFORE greeting anyone! One of the biggest reasons for over-exuberant greetings is simply that the dog has never been taught that he must wait until his owner tells him it is okay to greet someone. You would not allow your young child to just run up to any stranger and jump into their arms would you? What do most well behaved young children do when they see someone interesting? They look up to their parent to see if it is okay. We want the same response out of our dog. Even when they are excited, they must look to us for direction, and wait until we are sure the person wants to be greeted by a dog before we even allow interaction.


To recap, teach the dog an appropriate replacement behavior (such as stand-stay and sit-stay.) As soon as the dog understands the replacement behavior, then add a consequence for choosing to jump up. Be quiet as you give the correction, then redirect the dog into the sit or stand-stay. Do not praise, treat or pet the dog unless he is remaining in position. If he pops up, walk into him, forcing him to walk backwards. This balanced approach of both rewarding appropriate behavior and correcting inappropriate behavior will help him learn quickly.


Nationally known trainer Mary Mazzeri states "A balanced approach puts some responsibility for making choices on the shoulders of the dog. They know that they will both avoid discipline and earn rewards when they make the right choices." I could not agree more, particularly when teaching our dogs impulse control choices like proper greeting behavior.


(c) 2007-2011, Melanie Schlaginhaufen. May not be reproduced without written permission from the author. We are normally happy to share our articles with others, if a link to the website is included at the end of the article. For reprint permission, you can reach Melanie through the Contact Us link.

 

Share Link: Google Yahoo MyWeb Del.icio.us Digg Facebook Myspace Reddit Ma.gnolia Technorati Stumble Upon myAOL MSN Live
Comments (2)
  • Joni  - "No More Jumping Up!"

    Melanie, this was a particularly timely article for me to read right now, as I was just thinking about various aspects of this topic over the last couple of days. A few days ago, a therapy dog (a laid back and well-behaved Saint Bernard female) visited my mom as she was getting a transfusion at the cancer center. I was thinking that I should certify our girl Libby to be a therapy dog, I think she would excel and enjoy doing that! And then I thought, EXCEPT...it would be hard to train her to stop jumping up to greet people. :-) As you well know, Melanie, my dogs LOVE to jump up! lol And I was thinking just earlier today exactly what you said in the article, "Also, realize that own body language or excited verbal greetings also can trigger jumping behaviors." SO TRUE! When I am out working in the dog yard (for example, searching and scooping over the yard), the dogs basically ignore me...no jumping up! But when I am out there to greet them and play and interact with them, or ...

  • Melanie  - reply to Joni/jumping up

    Joni, your Libby is so sweet...I bet she would be a great therapy dog. It really did help Wyatt, my Aussie, when I started making him do a stand-stay when I was petting him (instead of having him sit, because with the sit, he would just pop right up as soon as I moved). You could train her to stand for petting the same way you train your puppies for conformation, teaching them not to jump up on the judge when the judge is going over them. And you are so right, re they seem to just "know" when we are in interaction mode, and that triggers jumping!

Write comment
Your Contact Details:
Comment:
[b] [i] [u] [url] [quote] [code] [img]   
Security
Please input the anti-spam code that you can read in the image.

Shopping

Melanie's Product Recommendations:

Knowing Dogs Store

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner