Dogs jump on us because it’s a natural way to get our attention.
It works, right?
Most people pet, talk to or kneel down and acknowledge a dog that jumps.
But when a dog jumps on someone, it can be dangerous. It’s also rude and annoying.
Even dog lovers may not appreciate muddy paws, hair and drool all over their clothes. And even a small dog’s little nails can scratch a person.
So how can someone stop her dog from jumping?
The following are my tips to stop a dog from jumping, but as with all my training posts, feel free to share your own tips. What works for one dog/owner pair will not necessarily work for all dogs.
Does ignoring the dog really work?
The most popular advice right now is to ignore the jumping and reward the dog when all four paws are on the ground.
This is good advice, as long as you go about it the right way.
Have you ever seen an owner (or even a trainer!) keep spinning in an attempt to turn her back on the dog?
It usually becomes a fun game for the dog! The dog ends up getting even more excited and jumpy.
So, don’t play the “spinning dance” with your dog.
Instead, truly ignore him.
How to ignore a jumping dog
It’s hard! But stay relaxed and calm and act as if the dog is not there.
This means no laughing at his cuteness. No scolding. Don’t even look at him. Just calmly walk right into him if he’s jumping as you go about your business.
Pretend to be really interested in the dishes or going through the mail or whatever.
And yes, sometimes turning your back on him works as long as you do so in a calm way.
This is what older dogs will do when they don’t want to play with a young, jumpy pup. They will ignore the pup, often focusing on a “smell” in the grass. Pretty soon the pup is also interested in sniffing the grass or he gets bored and finds something better to do.
Give attention when the dog is calm
This is great advice, as long as you don’t get the dog all riled up again when you give him attention. Try to keep the reward calm with a simple “gooood boooy” or tossing a treat.
What if ignoring the dog just isn’t working?
I love the ignoring approach, but in the real world some dogs are still going to jump when they get excited regardless of how much they are rewarded for the right behavior.
If that is the case for your dog, here are some additional tips to try:
1. Have a plan.
We discussed this in my post on how to keep a dog calm around visitors. It’s not enough to want your dog to stop jumping. You have to decide what you want him to do instead. Lie on a bed? Sit next to you? Calmly greet people without jumping?
Then figure out how to make this happen, and practice it. Dogs need lots and lots of repetitions in order for a concept to stick, especially with something as challenging as not jumping on visitors.
2. Keep the dog on a leash.
I will step on the leash if necessary to stop a dog from jumping. I know some of you will think this is too harsh, but it works. The dog will think twice about jumping if he is corrected in this way multiple times.
If you’re uncomfortable stepping on the leash, you can at least hold the leash so he’s under control. His usual training collar will also help, no matter what type of tool you normally use. My dog is much calmer when he wears his Gentle Leader, for example.
3. Instruct guests to ignore your dog.
I’ve found that people don’t really ignore my dog when I ask them to unless I give very specific instructions such as “do not look at him or acknowledge him at all. If he whines, don’t look at him or talk about him. If he comes up to you, just keep on walking like he’s not there.”
4. Use a pet corrector, a Doggie Don’t Device or an e-collar.
Sometimes the best thing is to use a tool to interrupt the jumping for a split second so you can reward your dog for sitting or standing. For example, the Pet Corrector blasts air at the dog and the Doggie Don’t Device makes a loud, static noise. You could also try a squirt bottle with water or an e-collar. When all four paws are on the ground, he gets praise.
5. Practice lots of obedience and exercise your dog.
I know, this is so obvious you’d think more of us would do it. It’s just so unfair to expect a dog not to jump on Grandma if the dog has been allowed to jump on everyone else. It’s also unfair to expect him to contain his excitement if he hasn’t been walked in a week. We should all be practicing basic obedience with our dogs every day and then slowly looking for more challenges.
Plus, dogs with more physical and mental energy typically jump more.
What about kneeing the dog in the chest?
I do this all the time – oh the horror! Call PETA!
No, it’s not as bad as you think. I’m not forcefully jamming my knee into the dog’s chest to cause pain. I’m calmly raising my knee to block the dog as I move forward into what will become my space. It tells the dog, “Back away, please.”
Then I pet the dog when he’s calm.
I do not recommend forcefully kneeing a dog in the chest. This could hurt the dog.
That being said, if you see a large dog charging you, I’d rather you use your knee or foot in self defense than to lean backward timidly while flailing your arms (this is a natural reaction). Backing away and flailing your arms is a good way to encourage the dog to jump on you, possibly knocking you over. It’s a good way to get hurt.
Instead, I recommend you stay calm, hold your ground and move forward.
It is also effective to yell “No!” while you stand up straight, point at the dog and move into “his” space. Usually this at least stops the dog in his tracks for a second, which is enough to stop him from crashing into you at full speed. He may still jump on you, but at least he’s not going 90 mph.
Keep in mind, I’m referring to friendly dogs in this scenario. Not aggressive dogs. You may recall the time I kicked an aggressive dog.
“That lady kneed my dog in the chest!”
If you are the owner of a dog that jumps, please don’t put people in a position where they feel like they have to either pet your dog or push him away. Keep him leashed while he’s still learning so he can’t hurt or annoy anyone.
OK, how about the rest of you?
How do you stop a dog from jumping?
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