One of the most common problems facing many dog owners is a pet who likes to jump.
When our dogs are pups we often reinforce their jumping behaviour by unintentionally rewarding them when they do jump. Pups that bounce around are often picked up and stroked, and they learn that they get attention when they jump. Unfortunately they then grow into large dogs, whose jumping isn’t appreciated.
So how do you train your dog out of jumping?
Some dogs seem to jump at certain triggers, so if you identify these, it will make training easier. Many dogs will jump on visitors, or as you leave the house or enter it. This might be because the dog associates the front door with going on fun walks or getting attention. People coming into and out of the home trigger him to get excited about the possibility of a walk or a pat, so he jumps.
If this seems to be the cause, there are a few ways you can deal with it. Make it a habit to ignore him for a few minutes before you leave the house, and don’t make a fuss about going. You can also offer him a treat, such as a Kong toy filled with food, that you can distract him with as you slip away. When you come home, don’t make a fuss. Instead, enter calmly and approach him when he has settled down. Ask your visitors to do the same and he’ll soon realise that jumping around gets him nowhere.
If he is a still a young dog, try teaching him the ‘wait’ command. Practice this throughout the day. Simply hold your hand and say ‘wait’ and if he sits patiently reward him with food. You can use this command just before you leave the house and as you walk in the door to calm him down, and reduce the risk of jumping.
Another technique you can use is to teach your dog to sit while you’re standing a few metres away. Then move toward the dog. If he stands up to greet you, stop and tell him to sit again. If he sits, approach him again. Keep doing this and he will soon learn that sitting means you move closer. Jumping up or standing means you don’t.
Never reward a jumping dog with attention, and never pick him up if he is a jumper – that just reinforces the jumping behaviour. This will require some effort from everyone in the household and visitors, but if you are consistent and persistent your dog will soon learn to keep all four paws on the ground.