In my opinion, jumping is a learned behavior. One way for the dog to learn is by a trial and error learning system, which means that your dog will more likely repeat a behavior that works for her and will likely stop a behavior if that behavior doesn’t work.
So, we or others who visit us are teaching the dog to jump because we give them attention when they jump.
Where it all started: The dog is only 8 weeks old, you just brought her home and you want her to feel “at home.” She comes to you while you are sitting on the sofa and put her paws on you, and you think to yourself, “aw you are so cute” and you pet her on the head. Yes, she is certaintly cute and you want to give her attention, but what you don’t realize is that you are teaching her to jump each time you pet her when she puts her paws on you. Very quickly she is not a small 7lb puppy anymore, but now a big dog at 70lbs who jumps on everyone because she’s learned that she gets attention when jumping.
Now you have a 70lbs dog who jumps on you and on your guests, scratching you while she jumps and you want to fix it.
The jumping has become a habit, and the earlier you begin to modify this behavior the faster it will resolve – a long term practiced behavior usually takes longer to change.
1. Stop giving your dog attention when she jumps on you. Wait until all four paws are touching the floor before she receives any attention. Ignore her completely the second she jumps.
2. Ask your guests to do the same when visiting your home or meeting your dog any other time.
3.Give her lots of attention when all four paws are touching the floor.
4. If excited voices trigger the jumping behavior, use a calm soothing voice to praise the wanted behavior (not jumping).
4. Teach your dog to sit. Make sure you practice and repeat the “sit” command (few hundred times) before introducing any distractions (environmental-dogs, people, cars, squirrels, etc.)
5. Once your dog learns to control herself when you or strangers greet her once she understands the “sit” command, ask her to sit in order to be pet.
6. Success! Your dog will now sit each time she seeks attention from you or strangers.
The chaotic greetings of the past will now be over!
What causes the process to slow down or resolve quicker?
Do Not- push your dog away from you with your hands when she jumps. It will only trigger an ‘opposition reflex,’ causing the dog to push forward and jump more.
Do – put a leash on your dog 20 minutes before you have guests. The leash can be used to prevent the dog from jumping.
Do Not – pull the dog back when she jumps because it will cause the same effect of opposition reflex and will cause her to pull forward and jump even more.
Do – Use a properly fitted training collar to correct the behavior. Use a quick snap on the leash when the dog jumps and ask her to sit instead of pulling on it.
Quick snap will last ¼ to ½ second of correction whereas a pull will be longer than ½ second correction. The key is to never have tension on the leash except during the ¼ to ½ second of correction.
Do – step on the leash while the dog is sitting and a stranger approaches. Make sure the leash is lose and the dog is not corrected in any way while sitting, but only corrected automatically if jumps. This way, she will not have enough leash to reach jumping height – the behavior itself causes the correction and therefore is not associated with anyone or any object.
There are many other ways to prevent jumping and can be applied differently based on the intensity of the behavior and temperament of the dog. This can include turning away from the dog to putting something in front of you (an object or raising your knee to create a barrier between the dog and your body).
More tips on dog training and behavior modification coming soon.
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