Jumping Up

Whether you are welcoming guests into your home, trying to get in the door yourself, or simply taking your canine companion for a walk around town, many dogs find it irresistibly tempting to jump on people that they are greeting.

If you are wondering why, the answer is simple but perhaps shocking. It’s actually a trained response. Undoubtedly, you haven’t been purposely honing your dog’s exuberant greeting skills, but unfortunately Fido has learned a pattern. Your dog’s excitement leads him to jumping up on people, which in turn probably gains him a reinforcing response. Whether someone tries to gently push him off, or simply gives in and lavishes him with the attention he desires, Fido has learned that this jumping up behaviour gets him the attention he is looking for.

So how can you break this pattern and teach Fido a more civilized greeting? Teaching “Off” is a great way to start combating the jumping up behaviour. For my dogs “Off” means “have four paws on the floor at the same time”. To start training this, the next time your dog jumps up on you, say “off” and turn your back. As soon as your dog has all four paws on the floor, even if only for a second, say “Yes!” and turn around to pet him. If your dog immediately jumps up, then turn your back again, you can also walk away; when four paws are back on the floor, say “Yes!” and praise him. The point of this exercise is that Fido will learn his obnoxious behaviour gets him completely ignored, while having four paws on the floor gets him the attention he desires. By saying “Yes!” as soon as Fido has four paws on the floor, allows him to know what behaviour you are rewarding. After you’ve repeated this step numerous times, you can then slowly increase the amount of time that Fido must have his paws on the floor before he gets your attention.

While “Off’ is a great start, most excitable dogs will find it hard to keep all paws on the floor for a long period of time. Teaching your dog behaviours, such as “sit” or “down” is another great way to help your Fido maintain a polite routine for greeting new people. Through using praise and petting as a reward for appropriate greetings, Fido will be able to earn the attention he so desperately desires, while you get to have a well mannered, approachable pet that you can proudly introduce to all of your friends and family.

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