So you’ve got a doggie who could plausibly land a contract in the NBA, such is the height and majesty of their leap. Useful when catching a frisbee, less so when greeting Grandma. Let our trainers clue you in on why and how to stop your dog from jumping on people.
Why should you ground your canine kid?
First things first: safety. Do you know a kid or an older person? Do you pass them in the street? Have you seen one in a movie? If your dog is ever in contact with children and/or senior citizens, their jumping can go from negligible nuisance to downright dangerous. Seniors and kids can get knocked to the ground (dogs don’t know how strong they are) and kids can develop a lifelong fear of maltipoos from your 70lb wolf tumbling on them a little too roughly.
Even if you rarely encounter the two extremes of the demographic scale, there are selfish reasons to teach your dog to stay on the floor: vet bills being one of them. Your dog may seem invincible now, but many breeds, such as Labs, Retrievers and Bulldogs, suffer from hip problems as they age. By teaching them to keep all four paws on the ground, you’re keeping your best furry friend healthy and mobile longer into old age.
But how can you go from four-legged LeBron to certified no jumper? Our trainers have some thoughts.
1—Teach them to do something else
Dogs, like children, aren’t great at being told “no!” And, honestly, it’s not much fun to do it again, and again, and again—especially as they may not really understand what it is you want from them. Instead, try training them to do something different when greeting people, like a “sit”. The great thing about sit is that your dog should already know how to do it, so all you have to do is create and reinforce the behavior through generous treats and consistency.
Start simple, with minimal distractions and excitement, then gradually up the challenge. After all, you want your dog to be able to handle everything from you getting home from a long day at work, to fifteen fellow baseball fans running through the door to celebrate the World Series win that will definitely happen soon. We can feel it.
2—Prevent the jump
In the short term, it can help to simply stop your jumper from leaping by standing on the leash. Be careful when you do, so as not to hurt your dog. Step carefully, don’t jerk the leash, and wear shoes so you don’t injure yourself. Also, make sure the leash is kept pretty short for this, so your dog can’t run around your ankles and trip you up.
This is honestly not the optimal solution if it’s all you’re doing. You can’t always have your dog on the leash inside and with larger dogs it can be hazardous. It’s just a way to keep your little leaper in check while you work on more effective, long-term training.
3—Train the people
We never get tired of saying it: if you want to train a dog, you’ve got to train the people first. That means the humans in your fur baby’s life need to all be on the same page in not reinforcing jumping behavior.
The objective is to starve a leaping dog of attention. Teach people who interact with your dog to ignore them until all four paws are on the ground. Don’t greet them with oodles of excitement, either—that can give them that surge of energy and joy that precedes jumping. This can be difficult (let’s face it, your dog’s pretty awesome), but in the early stages of training, it ensures you’re not sending mixed signals to your home hound.
4— Avoid mixed signals
Be careful not to accidentally reward your dog for jumping by giving them praise or treats when they stop jumping. In your dog’s head, they might start to think you’re teaching them a new trick: jump on you, then jump off. Don’t get us wrong, that’s an impressive trick. We’d just like to avoid the first part entirely.
You do this through consistency. Always getting them to sit when they greet someone, never giving a jumping dog attention or rewards, showing them that there is absolutely no context when jumping on someone is appropriate. This includes jumping on you, even if you’re a six-foot-three linebacker and think you can take it—your dog won’t understand the difference and it could set you back on all your training.
You’ve got this (we do too)
Training jumping behavior out of your dog takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. As you teach them, you’re reinforcing your bond with your buddy, building trust and meaning you get to spend less time telling them off, and more time telling them what a good boy or girl they are.
Need extra help or a jumpstart on training? Our trainers have tamed a thousand jumpers and will be only too happy to help. Feel free to book a session. We’ll be ready.