Does your dog jump up?

It is important to understand why dogs jump up on their owners so that you can start to understand why many of the common techniques don’t seem to work.

Adorable little dog enjoying time jumping up on her owner!
Dogs just love to be close to their owners; often as pups, they learn that jumping up is good fun, because it allows them to get even closer to the people they love and they get lots of attention for doing it.

Jumping up is effectively an attention seeking behaviour – chastising your dog rarely works because they are normally receiving the attention they seek; the behaviour is reinforced by social interaction whether that be verbal or physical!  Pushing your dog down is hugely reinforcing for dogs that love to be touched.

But I turn away and it doesn’t seem to work!

Ignoring them for jumping up will work for many dogs, but not as quick as many owners require.  Consistency is key to extinguishing all attention seeking behaviour.  If you ignore your dog for jumping up 9 times out of 10, then push them off on the 10th time because you are wearing your fur attracting work clothes, then you have taught your puppy to keep trying and eventually they will get your attention!

Why not try 1 of these 4 methods?  Don’t give up without trying hard; all of these methods work – they just require patience and consistency.

Method 1 – Incompatible Behaviour.  Train your dog to sit and cue them to do so as they are rushing to greet you!  We are not talking about a dog that sits every now and again when you ask, but one that sits every time because you have practiced, practiced and practiced some more in lots of different environments.   When your dog is approaching, cue them to sit and when they do so, give them the same level of reinforcement that they previously got for jumping up.  Talk to them, pet them and give them a treat.  Reinforcing an incompatible behaviour is by far the best way to stop your dog from jumping up, because they are getting the same reinforcement for doing something you find appropriate – it’s a win-win for all.

If there is inconsistency within the home; for example, dad forgets and still reinforces the jumping up, then you may need to try method 2.

Method 2 – Reinforce the sit with jumping up on cue.  In order to teach your dog to stop jumping up, we can teach them to jump on cue.  When your dog approaches you cue them to sit, when they sit you pat your chest and cue them to jump up as the reward.  Once your dog is reliably sitting prior to you asking them to jump up; you simply stop asking them to jump up anymore!  Instead, you switch the reinforcement to something else such as treats, praise and play.

Method 3 – You probably won’t need to try this because method 2 rarely fails – but just in case!  Ignore your dog when they jump up on you!  Ignoring them means no eye contact, no touching, pushing, chastising, talking etc.  This will reduce the likelihood of future behaviour, but it will take time to extinguish.

Method 4 – If you have absolutely no patience and are unable to train your dog to sit, then method 4 might be for you.  This requires you or anyone else to leave the room every time your dog jumps up.  This amounts to a time out, but it is important that you are the one that leaves.  If you touch, talk to or direct your dog out of the door, then you will have reinforced the attention seeking behaviour with attention!  Instead, you or anyone else that your dog jumps on must leave the room and close the door behind them – 30 seconds is sufficient for your dog to realise that jumping up caused you to leave.  The only reason why this method may not work is if your dog doesn’t like you – think about it, if jumping up results in you leaving and it increases after you start to leave, then chances are, you leaving is actually reinforcing for your dog!  Reinforced behaviour increases in the future!

Let me know how you progress – remember consistency and patience is vital. #learningwithchoice.

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