In Dog Behavior, Dog Training

I encounter dogs jumping all the time, so when this article arrived in my inbox I felt implied to share and add.

Here are five things to do when your dog jumps on people:

Originally written by Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, CDBC
Added information written by Amy Fiala, 10-year dog walking professional

There’s a common misconception that dogs jump on people to establish dominance. Balderdash! Dogs jump on people because there’s something about jumping that is reinforced by the human for the dog – usually the human attention that results from the jumping. If you want your dog to stop jumping on people, you have to be sure he doesn’t get positive reinforcement for it.

1. Interrupt

Minimize the reinforcement your dog gets from jumping on someone by removing him from the situation as soon as possible. To that end, you may want to leave a “tab” attached to your dog’s collar when he’s around people – a short (4 to 6 inch) leash that makes it easy for you to lead him away. You may want to ask your guest to not pet them and to turn their back to your dog as well.  (Don’t leave the tab on your dog when he’s alone; he could get it caught on something)

2. Manage

When you know your dog is likely to have trouble controlling himself, put his leash on before he can jump on someone. When you see the jumping-up gleam in his eye, restrain him to prevent the reinforcement he gets from the initial contact of the jump. I do this by stepping and putting my body weight on the leash to hold it in place.  The leash from the floor up is only enough available to the dog to stand comfortably.  This method restrains the dog completely from jumping.  They can try, but the leash length only allows for our magic number of “Four on the Floor”.  Other useful management tools to prevent reinforcement include strategically located tethers, baby gates, doors, exercise pens, and crates

3. Educate

Tell friends, family and even temporary acquaintances what you want them to do if your dog starts to jump up. Insist they not reinforce the jumping up behavior – even those friends who claim they don’t mind! Educational options include telling them to:

  • Greet your dog before he jumps, perhaps even kneeling to greet a small dog.
  • Turn and step away from your dog until he sits, or at least has four feet on the floor, then turn back to greet the dog.
  • Ask your dog to sit and reinforce by petting him if/when he does.
  • Back away from your dog (if you have your dog on leash) and wait for him to sit before greeting or petting him. If he jumps up while you are petting him, simply stop the petting and take a step backward. Resume petting ONLY if he sits.
  • Toss a toy conveniently provided by you to redirect the dog’s behavior before the jump happens.
  • Walk away from your dog through a gate or door and close it behind them to keep the dog on the other side. Be aware of your surroundings, and proactively prevent your dog from reaching anyone he can jump up on

4. Train

Of course, you need to practice polite greetings in the absence of the exciting stimulus of guests and strangers by reinforcing your dog’s appropriate greeting with you and other family members. Be sure to take advantage of the presence of guests and strangers to reinforce your dog’s polite greeting behaviors while you’re managing with leashes and tethers.

5. Apologize & Take Responsibility

It’s your job to prevent your dog from jumping on people, even when they say they don’t mind. If your management efforts fail and your dog does jump up, apologize.

If in the process of jumping up he puts muddy pawprints on a business suit, snags a pair of nylons, knocks down a small child, or otherwise does some kind of property damage – even if the damage is minor – be responsible and make amends: pay for the cleaning bill, purchase a new pair of nylons, buy the child an ice cream cone, or do whatever you need to do to repair the damage. Then redouble your training and management efforts.  Consistency is key, so repetition of these Five Things To Do When Your Dog Jumps is important.

Practice makes perfect! Happy trails and dog training! 😊💙🐾🐶

Need more help training your dog how to properly greet people? Have a look at Whole Dog Journal’s exclusive ebook Stop Jumping!

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Image by K9 of Mine