A jumping dog poses a lot of problems for both the owner and the dog. Large dogs that jump up in greeting can be terrifying for people who don’t have a lot of experience with dogs, and they can easily cause injury if the person falls or is pushed backward.
Even small dogs are a problem when jumping. They can surprise people and create a real potential for a trip or a fall, and at the very least they are going to cause damage to clothing or even scratches to the legs. Little children are particularly at risk for injury even with small dogs, so simply preventing this behavior or eliminating it as quickly as possible is critical.
A Positive Approach
It is important never to attempt to correct the jumping behavior by yelling, hitting or grabbing at the dog. This will only confuse the dog and create a greater risk for further behavior issues.
Instead, the key is to teach an alternate behavior that gets the dog what he or she wants, which is your attention or the attention of guest to your home. Positive training starts with changing your behavior.
Don’t Reward the Jump
Often jumping is a learned behavior that started way back when the dog was a puppy. When he or she jumped up, people petted and interacted with the dog, so in the dog’s mind that was a reward for something done that was good.
It is essential if a dog jumps to step back, avoid any contact with the dog, and give a single firm command of “Down” and then, when the dog’s feet are all on the ground, give them a bit of attention and verbal praise. This is retraining the dog or puppy, that jumping gets nothing but standing on all fours gets the positive reward.
Teach Come and Sit
At the same time, make sure that you have taught the dog or the puppy the come and sit commands. Using a small healthy treat, call the dog to you and have them sit multiple times a day when they are not excited about your arrival home.
Provide a few pats and a small treat, but don’t make a big production out of the dog doing the right thing. Once he or she has mastered this, repeat the commands after being gone for a little while.
Before the dog has the chance to jump call them and give the sit command, and immediately provide the treat and the praise.
It is critical to be consistent with this training. Once your dog is not jumping on you anymore, expand the training to include a few friends who are comfortable with dogs and can follow the routine. Soon you will have a dog that sits for attention rather than jumping, completely changing that negative behavior into a positive.
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