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Jumping Up (Inappropriate greeting behavior)

First of all, let's look at this from the dog's point of view. Fido is so happy to see you, and he naturally wants to get close to your face, so he does what comes naturally -- he jumps up. And guess what - chances are, he has been rewarded many times for his jumping behavior!

Most likely, if you got Fido when he was a tiny pup, he put his tiny puppy feet up on your leg, and you bent down to pat and sweet talk him 'cause he was soooo cute. Bingo! He just got rewarded.

What do dogs want when they jump on people? ATTENTION. And jumping up does get our attention! Even if you push him off, yell at him or otherwise try to punish Fido for jumping up, you are still giving him your attention. To most dogs, even negative attention is much better than being ignored. Dogs do what works - so we need to teach Fido that there is a much better way to get human greetings. Plus, we need to teach him that jumping up no longer works!

This is going to take careful management on your part. This means that a leash is on the front door handle and nobody comes in the house without the dog being on a leash, treats ready, and the person instructed beforehand on how to behave. Most dogs will find it reinforcing to make physical contact, so it's the job of the person on the other end of the leash to keep the leash short enough that the dog cannot touch the person. You can step on the leash if necessary.

You must not allow someone to "untrain" your dog. This means that every single time the dog meets a person, that person does NOT pet or acknowledge the dog until the dog is sitting. You ask the dog to sit. If the dog sits, the person can approach and pet, or just toss a treat if they do not wish to pet the dog. If the dog starts to jump, (or does not sit) the person says "Too bad" and immediately goes away. Wait a minute and try again. Fido quickly learns that sitting makes people come and give a treat, and jumping makes the person go away!

You MUST practice this every day in the beginning. If you don't get much company, take your dog to places like a pet supply store where dogs are allowed, or bribe people to come over and help you train. Have the person go out the back door and come back in several times. Use as many different people as you can. Neighbor kids will often be willing to volunteer for this.

Your dog will learn very quickly if you are consistent and get your dog out to practice in different places. But if he succeeds in jumping up and gets rewarded even some of the time, the jumping behavior will get stronger.

If the dog does accidentally get away from you and make contact, your helper MUST IGNORE the dog by folding arms and looking away.

Be prepared, so you don't get caught off guard. Be proactive, not reactive after your dog has already jumped. And be sure to give your dog plenty of aerobic exercise. Adolescent bouncy dogs typically do not get enough exercise or mental stimulation.

In class, we will show you how to achieve the "Sit to Greet" even before your dog understands what sit means - it is really fun when you see the 'lightbulb' go on and the dogs figure it out.

Copyright Pat Scott