Jumping on People
By Peter Brown
Professional Dog Trainer, Alpha Paws
Is your dog a jumper? Is he greeting every unfortunate guest to the house with two front paws to the chest? Imagine coming home from a long day at work and all you really want to do is relax. Unfortunately your faithful yet unruly pet has other ideas and practically tackles you to the floor the moment you enter the door. Sound familiar? Well, if so, you’re like many others whose pugnacious pooches have not yet learned to curb their jumping ways.
Why do dogs jump?
There are some dog breeds that are genetically built for jumping. They have a natural ability and inclination to jump. Beyond having a genetic predisposition, most dogs jump because they are taught environmentally that jumping is a good thing. The owner carries the dog around in their arms or has them up on the couch and chairs/beds, which in turn elevates the dog’s status. The dog then assumes more of an alpha role in the home while the owner is perceived as subservient and therefore is less respected.
So, when the dog is jumping up on people what they are really saying is, “Pick me up! Pick me up!” in a rude and demanding manner, one they have come to expect will be met with an immediate response by their owner.
Dog’s are quite used to routine and schedule and if you’re routinely picking them up or having them up on furniture, they get used to that and in turn begin to DEMAND it in the form of inappropriate behaviour like jumping or barking. They have learned from you that this is a sign of affection. And as soon as they see you, they start jumping up to get your attention. Essentially, they are saying, “Look at me, look at me, pet me, pet me!” because this is how they have learned to best get your attention.
What can you do to stop dogs from jumping?
Preventative options include avoiding creating the behaviour in the first place. You can do this by beginning your relationship with your new dog by NOT allowing them up on beds and couches or picking them up constantly. Instead we have to let them BE a dog, as opposed to treating them like a teddy bear or princess who has the run of the house. In addition, good manners are just as important for your dog as they are for you or your children. And instilling them in our dogs is our responsibility as pet owners.
How do you eliminate the jumping once it has become established?
The first and most important thing you have to do is often the hardest for many owners…and that is to IGNORE the behaviour when it is happening. When your dog is demonstrating this kind of rude behaviour, you have to immediately stop petting and talking to your dog or interacting with them in any way until they stop jumping.
The first thing you have to do is recognize what is rude behaviour in order to correct it.
You ONLY give them love and attention when they are ON THE GROUND. This is often extremely tough for us humans because many times we don’t even know that it’s going on. The dog comes to our side while we’re sitting down and noses us or jumps on us and our hand automatically and instinctively goes down to the dog and starts petting them. And by doing this what we are doing is essentially rewarding the dog’s rude behaviour. The first thing you have to do is recognize what is rude behaviour in order to correct it and then start positively reinforcing good behaviour such as when the dog is NOT jumping up or climbing on furniture and have your dog comfortably lie down at your feet on a mat instead of constantly harassing and jumping on you.
A professional would put the dog and owners through behavioural training where they specifically set up a jumping scenario, which would eliminate your dog’s unruly jumping in a matter of minutes. Using the correct leash handling method, you simply direct the dog off of you so that your dog learns quickly not to jump on you and that they will get lots more love and attention for being beside you on the ground. It is often because of the human factor that we don’t see the issues that are right in front of us. A professional trainer should be able to identify the pitfalls and help turn the negatives into positives.