The JP Dog Foundation''s "Let's Talk About" blog series will delve into common behavioural issues exhibited in our dogs, and will explore the reasons, examples and solutions of the said behaviour. The aim is for both current and prospective dog owners alike to gain a deeper understanding of common behavioural issues their dog may exhibit, and equip them with the essential information on how best to eliminate and control the issue, so that they can live harmoniously and balanced.
Jumping up at humans isn't necessarily a major issue for many dog owners who have no qualms about their dog jumping up on them, and view it as a sign of endearment. However, not only can it be an act of dominance and an attention-seeking behaviour that can have a knock-on effect on other behavioural issues, but imagine the results if your larger dog were to jump on a child or elderly person. It can pose a serious risk to themselves and others.
Highlighted below are the most effective training techniques to eliminate unwanted jumping up from your dog, using positive-only techniques to reinforce correct behaviour, as well as to teach new, extremely beneficial commands.
1. Ignore & Reward
Jumping up is a self-rewarding behaviour as the dog often gets affection or a big fuss when they do so. The most effective way to tackle this behavioural issue is through extinction and positive reinforcement. Extinction simply means ignoring the dog when they jump, and turning your back to them in a calm manner. By doing so they will not get the affection or attention they desire, and thus will eventually learn it is no longer rewarding to them. When applying extinction, it’s very likely there will be an ‘extinction burst’ where the jumping up will intensify before it improves. When the dog ceases to jump up from you ignoring them, you can reward their calm, non-jumping state. It can simply be rewarded with affection, as it is why most dogs jump up in the first place, thus it is the reward that they desire. The dog will eventually learn that a calm state with all four paws on the ground is the way to get the attention they seek. As with all issues, prevention is better than cure therefore you should not allow or reinforce jumping up from the outset.
2. Teach New Commands
A ‘leave’ or ‘stay down’ command may also need to be taught if the dog jumps up at strangers. Again, this can be done using the technique of positive reinforcement by issuing the command when the dog makes an attempt at jumping up at a stranger, and then rewarding the dog when he listens. With repetition, the dog will learn that the chosen command means they get a reward.
An alternative solution to effectively deal with a dog jumping up is to utilize the ‘sit’ command when your dog meets someone. As an exercise the owner can get a friend or family member to enter the house and to give the dog the ‘sit’ command. The person entering the house can continue to enter, but if the dog gets up then the person should turn around and walk away. The owner should then get the dog to ‘sit’ again, and then the person can re-approach. This should be continued until the dog remains seated when the person has fully approached, at which point the dog can be rewarded with a treat. Extinction is being used here to ignore the dog when he gets up/exhibits excited behaviour, and positive reinforcement is used at the end to reward the sitting and calm behaviour.
3. Re-Direct With Toys
Lastly, another way that instead re-directs the behaviour is to teach your dog to take a toy in its mouth to greet someone instead of jumping up. This will depend on how toy motivated the dog is, but simply getting a dog to hold something in its mouth is enough to stop the dog from wanting to jump up for attention. The owner can keep the toys near the door so that they can give one to their dog for when guests arrive.
Hopefully following these tips on your own will help you effectively deal with your dog's jumping up. If you need further help or have any questions, use the contact form below to get in touch. Keep an eye out for the rest of the "Let's Talk About" series on the JPDF blog and over on the JPDF Instagram, where we will dive into other common dog behavioural issues.