How do I get a Dog to Stop Jumping?
Your dog jumps for joy – but you’re not having fun. Jumping can drive dog owners (and their guests) crazy. People get scratched, sweaters get pulled, and kids get knocked over. Even the little breeds can ruin a nice pair of pants after a mud run in the yard.
Dog trainers are called in to “fix” jumping all the time. So, what do we do?
First, start with management. In dog trainer terms, management means to set up the situation so the dog can’t fail.
In the case of jumping, management ideas include:
- Hold the dog back on leash
- Put the dog in a crate for a few minutes
- Put the dog behind a gate for a few minutes
These techniques don’t train the dog not to jump. But, they stop it now, and they keep the bad behavior pattern from growing stronger through repetition.
Once management is in place, let’s look at two basic training options. Before we get into this, it must be said that you should always apply your own common sense to training instructions. Think about your situation with your individual dog or clients and tailor the ideas found here accordingly. Never hurt the dog or yourself! Whenever you’re unsure, get a pro trainer on board.
Training, Part 1
The first technique to re-train jumping is a proactive and powerful form of ignoring it: body block the dog. This means you step forward, firmly but carefully, into the dog’s space. You can do this as the dog jumps or just before. Most dogs will back up. Dogs “get it” quickly with body blocks because now you are speaking their natural language – body language. Without you saying a word, when you move forward your dog will sense you saying, “This is my space, back out of it”.
Do NOT use your hands when body blocking – fold your arms and step forward. Make contact with your legs and body only. Using your hands will be seen as a form of play (think of dogs paw thwacking one another playfully).
Training, Part 2
Once you have shown the dog that jumping results in body blocks, not attention, you can work on training a new behavior that a dog can’t do at the same time as jumping. This technique takes some work, but it is extremely effective. Asking a dog to do nothing is next to impossible, but teaching them something else to do works great. “Spin” is a great behavior, since it is active and uses up that aroused energy, rather than trying to get the dog to calm down. Fetching a toy or going to place are great options, too.
A common mistake is to teach Sit instead of jumping. Sit is usually not a good choice, because most dogs will sit for one second and then spring back into jumping! Whatever new behavior you choose, work to get it on command during quiet times before you practice with guests arriving. Keep your leash handy for back-up management. Some dogs may need quite a bit of practice before they stop jumping for joy!