It is not uncommon to have a dog who jumps up on either its owners or on guests. This behavior is generally a behavior that is learned as a very young puppy, and as the dog grows, we no longer think its cute to jump and crawl all over us and lick our faces.
So what do we do?
First things first. We need to help our dogs understand that four paws on the floor or sitting is what earns attention. This means that you need to go out of your way to pay attention to your dog when s/he is behaving properly. Remember, it is easy to ignore a well behaved dog, much harder to ignore one jumping up on you. Don’t ignore your dog when they are polite! Go our of your way to reward them. If your dogs paws come off the floor, immediately turn and walk away from your dog (in some cases you may need to even walk into a different room and close the dog out of the room). We need to communicate effectively that jumping up will earn the exact opposite of what they want (they are looking for attention, we are taking our attention away). Help your dog by asking s/he for a sit before offering affection/attention.
Dogs do what works!
The idea is to send a very clear message to our dogs, that jumping up earns a loss of attention, while sitting politely earns tons of attention! Consistency is the key here. If you give your dog attention just once while his paws are off the floor, he will continue to try the behavior. Keep in mind that for dogs that have been jumping for a while, this behavior will generally get worse before it gets better. This is called an extinction burst. The dog previously was rewarded with attention for jumping, now all of a sudden it isn’t working any more, so the dog tries harder and harder, until he realizes it is no longer working.
Once your dog seems to understand that sitting or keeping four paws on the floor is most likely to earn attention, we can move on to working with our dogs around guests who come into our homes or people we meet while out walking.
The most effective strategy for curbing jumping on guests is the concept of using short time-outs as a consequence for jumping behavior (note: this concept can be used for other rude greeting behaviors as well, but it is suggested that you tackle one rude behavior at a time). I call these time-outs social isolation. The idea is that any time the dogs paws come off the floor to jump, we immediately say “Ah,Ah” (or some other no reward marker) and quickly bring them to a nearby time-out space such as a crate or bathroom, and leave them there for 15 seconds. The amount of time is just long enough for the dog to realize it’s a bit of a bummer, while not long enough to really stress them out. Placing the dog in the time out area is effectively taking away the reward (the guest) without having to tell your guest to walk away. It is easiest to have the dog on the leash for this exercise. If you are concerned about the dog not liking his crate after this exercise, use a different time out space. You may also provide your dog with time-outs for jumping on you as well, it doesn’t have to be for just guests. This also works quite well for the time when you first come home and the dog is very excited to see you. Remove the dog from the crate, if he s/she jumps, place back in the crate for 15 seconds, repeat.
Behind the Gate Technique:
Place your dog behind a baby gate (be sure s/he won’t jump it) and have your guest approach the dog when s/he has four paws on the floor. If the dog jumps, the person moves away, if the dog is polite, it receives attention.
PLEASE NOTE: If your dog is fearful of or reactive toward people, it is best to address the fear or reactivity before addressing any jumping behavior. These techniques will not work well for dogs who are fearful or aggressive toward people and may actually make matters worse. If you are dealing with a fearful or reactive dog, we can help. Give us a call at 612-388-9656 or email us at Heather@luckypawsmn.com