Jumping up is one of the few unwanted behaviors that we reward, especially when dogs are young. This behavior begins in puppyhood, and is a dog’s way of saying hello when they see their owner, or someone they like. Naturally, when a puppy does this, the next step would be to pet them and play with them. This may not yet seem like a big deal, but attention is considered a reward. Once this behavior is rewarded more than once, it becomes a routine. Fast forward a couple of years (and 70 pounds later), the dog could potentially injure someone just by saying hello! At that point, the owner realizes that this is an issue, and starts looking for ways to correct the behavior.
Dog owners use various methods to correct the behavior, from treats to e-collars. Read on for some tips that we’ve proven with many dogs.
Correct The Behavior
Dogs are sensitive to human voices, so a simple “aht-aht” is generally enough to teach a dog that what they’re doing is wrong. For dogs that get overly excited when greeting people, a verbal correction combined with a slight correction on a prong collar often works.
Establish A New Habit
Often, you can teach the dog that other people coming into the house or approaching you isn’t an issue. This is done through a process called habituation. Habituation is defined as “a decrease in response to a stimulus (ie a door opening / doorbell ringing / person approaching) after repeated presentations.” Essentially, you’d employ the help of a friend or relative, and ask them to come in and out of the house multiple times. During that time, you wouldn’t react to their entrance or exit, and they would not acknowledge the dog. Once the dog does not respond to the stimulus, reward them.
Reward The Right Behavior
Speaking of rewards, another solution is to reward the dog as soon as they stop jumping, and have all four paws on the floor. You can use treats or affection to reinforce the correct behavior. In fact, you can take this a step further and teach the dog to automatically focus on you (instead of the external stimulus), and give them a release command to “go say hi” as a reward. This is known as a contingency reward; you’re letting the dog do what they want to do, as a result of offering the desired behavior.
Teach A Solid Place
A place command is useful because it gives the dog a quiet place to go to when there’s excitement in the house (or even out in the world). “Place” is essentially a down-stay on a specific object. This can be anything from a soft dog bed, to a raised platform, to a towel spread out on the ground. The idea here is that as long as the dog is laying down on the mat, they are quiet. Instead of getting the dog excited when someone comes in the house (or approaches you out in public), the dog is taught that new people are no big deal, and that they can relax.
Jumping, like any other undesirable habit, takes consistency and patience to completely eliminate. If you would like help with teaching your dog the correct behaviors, contact us to learn more. We look forward to helping you improve your relationship with your dog!