I imagine jumping began when your puppy was small and cute and didn’t knock anyone down. You would come home, be thrilled to see your new love, and squeal with delight while your puppy jumped up on your legs. It didn’t matter that he was hysterical. You showered him with affection. He was cute and new and tiny. Now, he’s a year old and while you still love him, you dread the greeting. Your clothes get dirty. He licks your face. If he lands the right way, it hurts.
How do I know? It’s happened to me. I grew up with dogs. They were not always well behaved. And now, Quincy jumps like a mad woman. But, since she’s only nine pounds, it doesn’t bother anyone. Well, it doesn’t bother me. 🙂
My big dogs don’t jump on me–too much pain involved. I avoided teaching my dog to jump up with two steps:
1) I teach the puppy sit from week one.
2) When I greet any puppy I crouch down to his level and pet him. So, Sherlock, for example, was never rewarded with affection for putting his paws on my legs.
If you have an adult dog that jumps, you can fix it. Know in advance that it will take persistence and consistency. If your dog has been rewarded with love and attention for jumping for months or years, expect extinguishing the behavior to take time.
To begin, you must train a replacement behavior. I use the sit. It must be strong. If your dog doesn’t know sit, you need to train it before you can begin to work on jumping. Read all about teaching sit in this post.
Once you are confident in your dog’s ability to sit on command in multiple locations, you can begin to work on his jumping.
Before any training session, it helps if your dog is hungry. A hungry dog is easier to train! If that means cutting his dinner in half, or skipping it altogether, then do it.
When you get home from work, or yoga or going to the grocery store, grab some dog treats, and greet your boy. When he runs at you with crazy abandon, turn your back and remain still and calm. Once he’s settled, face him and say, “Sit!” As soon as his rear hits the ground, give him a treat. The first few times you do this you are a human Pez dispenser. Treat, treat, treat when his rear is on the floor. Then say, “Free!” and walk away. Practice session complete.
Practice greeting a couple of times a day. Short, frequent training sessions work best for dogs. After a day, or a week, or a month, your dog should begin to offer up the sit behavior instead of the jumping behavior. Do not expect miracles. It will happen gradually. At first, he may calm down after one minute instead of one minute and five seconds. After thirty training sessions, he may be able to hold the sit for the count of one. At some point, however, he will run to greet you and instead of jumping, his rear will hit the floor in anticipation of a treat. While inside you may be squealing with joy, remain calm, and treat your dog! You’ve taught him that jumping doesn’t get attention, and sitting earns a treat. That’s a big accomplishment!
One of the most important parts of extinguishing a behavior is ignoring it. It must be very clear to your dog that jumping no longer equals attention. So, for best results, every single time you greet your dog, you must be ready with treats, and have time to practice the sit/replacement behavior.
- Teach sit.
- Carry treats.
- Turn your back to him when he jumps.
- Ignore him until he’s calm.
- Turn, give the sit command, and reward.
Dog training is a progression, so it’s not fair to expect perfection on the first try. Acknowledge small accomplishments, and before you know it your dog will greet you with a sit!