Controlling Dog Jumping Through Training
Dogs jump because it feels natural. They are excited to get your attention and don’t realize that you aren’t happy. Dog training for jumping is relatively simple: teach an incompatible behavior and reward only that behavior. Ignore everything else.
TEACHING AN INCOMPATIBLE BEHAVIOR
Sit is the best behavior to teach a jumping dog because it is easy for him to learn, and he definitely can’t jump while sitting. This is best taught while your dog is calm, not when you first walk in the door.
You want your dog to respond to your sit command, so you don’t want to use any physical gestures because then your dog will only respond to the physical gesture (pushing the butt down). Thus, to teach sit:
- Hold a treat just above your dog’s nose level and slowly move it over your dog’s head. This should cause him to fall backward into the sit. If he doesn’t, keep trying. If your dog is rising on hind legs, you’re holding the treat too high.
- When your dog starts to sit, say “sit” and then say “good” and give the treat.
- Repeat with the treat in your hand only 2 to 3 times.
- Now, use your hand without the treat the exact same way you used it when you were holding the treat.
- When your dog sits, give him a treat or two from a hidden place like a pocket and praise.
- Practice this in all rooms of your house. Have everyone in the family participate.
SOLVING JUMPING PROBLEM
Now that your dog has a default behavior, you can teach him not to jump when he is excited, which is usually when you come home from work, put out food or begin a game.
- When you walk in the door, immediately ask your dog to sit. If he does, give him a hello and plenty of pets.
- If he does not, walk straight past him. Do not talk to him or touch him. Turn your back. If you tell him no or push him off, you are touching him and talking to him, which is still attention (a reward). The behavior will continue, even if you mean those as corrections.
- Once his feet hit the ground, praise and pet him. As soon as he starts jumping again, remove all attention.
- If you must, go to another room and close the door or walk back outside. When he is calm enough to sit, resume greeting.
- If he jumps for food, set the food bowl down where he can’t reach it and leave the kitchen. He can only eat once he sits.
- If he jumps on you during a game, the game ends. Resume the game when he has calmed down.
PREVENT JUMPING ON GUESTS
Obviously, you don’t expect your grandmother to ignore your jumping Great Dane, so you have to modify the techniques a little when dealing with guests.
- Keep a leash by the door. Clip it on your dog when someone knocks on the door.
- Instruct your guests not to look at or greet your dog until he has calmed down.
- Keep him by your side on the leash. Don’t give him any commands, just wait for him to calm down. This means no pulling, jumping, barking, straining or heavy panting. Invite your guest inside, but acknowledge the dog only once he is calm.
- Once your dog is calm, allow him to greet.
- If he starts jumping, pull him back and start over. Your dog should only get to greet people when he is calm.
These methods depend on consistency. If you enforce these simple rules every time your dog jumps, he will learn quickly that jumping is ineffective and choose a new (acceptable) behavior to get your attention.