It Makes Sense
Jumping up makes sense to your dog. If they would like to get your attention and jumping up has worked before, they’ll keep doing it.
Often as puppies, jumping up becomes a default greeting because they’re just so cute! They put their paws up our legs and we fuss them. It happens with other people too, as puppies are likely to get a lot of visitors. The visitors will want to fuss the pup, the pup puts their paws up and the cycle begins.
Think about what’s happening now for your dog.
Here’s the most common scenario I find when I’m asked to help a family whose dog is continually jumping up:
- Dog Jumps Up Human
- Human Interacts With Dog Saying ‘Get Down’, Sometimes Pushing Them
- Dog Has All Four Paws On The Floor
- NOTHING HAPPENS FOR THE DOG
- Dog Jumps Up Again…
- Repeat day in, day out!
We’re not going to teach our dogs ‘not to jump’. How would we do that?! They don’t understand the word ‘no’. They probably have no idea what you mean by ‘get down’, especially if ‘down’ usually means they are being asked to ‘lie down’, and jumping has been rewarded, even if it was with the smallest interaction.
If you’re shaking your head as you’re reading this, please consider something… if you think your dog understands when you say ‘no’ or ‘get down’, then why are they still jumping up people?
We are going to teach our dogs what we would like them to do instead of jumping. We’re going to teach them how we would like them to greet people.
|Myth Buster |
Just a note on how we teach our dogs what we would like them to do instead of jumping. We are proactive and we don’t ‘ignore them’ while they’re jumping. Ignoring our dogs doesn’t teach them anything. Quite often, they work harder to get our attention if they’re being ignored and usually, the human gives in before the dog. Even if it’s a frustrated ‘get down’ from us, the dog has still received some interaction and therefore the jumping worked. More importantly, they haven’t learnt what you WOULD like them to do instead of jumping.
What Would You Like Your Dog To Do?
This is the first step. Before you do anything, decide how you would like your dog to greet people. Usually, that’s either standing with all paws on the floor or sitting down.
Have a chat with the people you live with and anyone else who is involved in caring for your dog. Decide together what you would like your dog to do so you can all work towards the same aim.
I would suggest that if you’re happy to do so, start with the aim of your dog sitting* to greet people. The reason for this is that most people have started working on a sit cue with their dog already and a dog can’t jump when they’re sitting… well, I’ve met a few dogs who would give it a good try, but it is more difficult for them!
So, our aim is that when a visitor comes to the house or we’re out with our dog, they sit to greet the approaching human.
*This is a suggestion. Some dogs aren’t comfortable sitting, or have trouble sitting on different materials. I know a beautiful greyhound who will not sit on concrete. It’s cold! So please make sure you’re doing something that will set your dog up to succeed.
I’m sure you have taught your dog a sit cue and most of the time, your dog responds. If you’re not sure how to do this, please email me and I’ll send you everything you need to teach your dog the cue.
We need to supercharge the sit cue.
Let’s be honest, if we’re holding a piece of cheese, our dog’s bum can hit the floor at the speed of light. However, when there’s something more exciting happening, they might not acknowledge the cue and have no intention of parking their bum. This just means that either they’re not motivated enough or they don’t understand the cue.
We’re going to spend some time reinforcing the sit cue so that you have a reliable sit in lots of different environments.
Start with the quick wins. Ask your dog to sit before they’re fed. Ask your dog to sit before you take the lead off for them to run in the park. Ask your dog to sit before they go into the garden… you get the idea!
Your dog is learning that sitting brings good stuff. It doesn’t have to be food, it can be whatever your dog loves. By doing this, you’re practising the sit cue time and time again so it won’t be long before your dog can recognise the cue when there are distractions and follow the request.
You now have a dog with a reliable sit. They understand the word and know that it brings good stuff, so they’re much more likely to keep doing it.
As your dog walks towards you, ask them to sit BEFORE they jump up and as soon as they sit, reward them. Give them a treat or some fuss.
Tell everyone in your family that this is what you’re working on and you can all practice. Make it fun for your dog. Call your hound to you, ask them to sit, then reward them.
As you approach your dog, ask them to sit.
Keep practising! Next, it’s time to bring in the visitors.
The energy around the front door when visitors arrive can be quite overwhelming for a dog. The doorbell goes, then the humans are greeting each other, often with hugs and general excitement. The dog wants to get in on this action.
To reduce the excitement for your dog, put them somewhere they’re happy while you make a drink and sit down with your visitors. Then, give each of your visitors a dog treat and explain what you’re working on with your dog. Your visitors can be rewarded with human treats later… positive reinforcement works on everyone!
Calmly invite your dog to join you. As your dog goes up to the visitors, they’ll ask for a sit and the behaviour will be rewarded. If your dog gets over-excited, calmly call them out of the room, wait until they have settled and try again. There’s no point shouting ‘sit’, ‘sit’, ‘sit’ at your dog as that just raises the energy levels and your dog isn’t learning anything, other than jumping is fun.
If you need to ask more than twice, it just means that you need to do a little bit more practice and that’s ok! You have all the time in the world to practice this. Go back to reinforcing the sit in different circumstances and then try again in a couple of weeks.
If you’re struggling with this, you can put your dog on a harness and lead to do the introductions. If your dog is pulling towards the visitors, call them away and try again when they’re calm.
The same game works outside. Hand over a couple of treats to whoever you’re chatting to and they can ask your dog to sit. Don’t expect your dog to sit for too long to start with, you’ll need to build that up over time.
How does your dog know when they can stop sitting? There’s a risk that after they have been rewarded they will jump up again, isn’t there?
Whenever you’re practising and whenever you ask your dog to sit, remember that they need to know when they’re no longer required to sit.
A release cue is just a way of saying to your dog that they can go and chill out. Decide as a family what your cue will be. I use ‘go on’ but use whatever comes naturally to you.
- Ask your dog to sit
- Reward your dog
- Say ‘go on’ (or whatever words you chose)
- Do nothing with, just carry on with whatever you need to do!
Don’t keep repeating it over and over again, all we’re doing is introducing a cue to show your dog that it’s their time now.
You can use it when you take their lead off for them to play… or to release them from a sit to play in the garden. That way, they’ll start to associate the release cue with going off to do their own thing and not expect immediate interaction.
Reward your dog for doing something you would like them to repeat. If they gently walk up to you and have all four paws on the floor, fuss them! Be consistent and your dog will keep doing the things that work. If you change the expectations and are able to communicate with your dog, they will change their behaviour.
You can use other cues too, as long as you have spent the time teaching your dog what they mean. For example, once your dog has said ‘hello’ to the visitors, you can ask them to go to their bed or lie down… you’re asking them to do something you would like them to do, not trying to stop them doing something you don’t want them to do.
If you’d like to learn more about training for you and your dog, head to our Online Training Club!