Correcting Jumping Dogs
Has this ever happened to you, you go to a friend’s house and their dog is so excited to see you that it jumps all over you? Maybe the dog scratched you in the chest or face as well. Maybe it ripped your clothing. Maybe it clunked you under the chin with its head and caused you to bite down on your tongue, so that now you have a hard time drinking hot coffee comfortably.
Or how about this one, you get a new dog for your family and the dog is so excited that it goes through a jumping period where it constantly jumps on you and other family members.
There are quite a few ways to control a dog’s jumping and dog trainer Sherry Bedard offers up a few tips when I asked her how to control or correct a dog that jumps. Sherry responded as follows:
This question can be a little tricky since there are many reasons why a dog might jump on people as they enter the home. A few questions I might have as a dog trainer would be; Is the dog jumping on you, the owner, as you walk in the door? Does the dog jump on everyone as they walk in or just visitors (strangers or known guests to the dog?)
To begin correcting the problem of dogs jumping on visitors, I would recommend that the owners keep a leash next to the door and when someone is at the door, the owners would put the leash on the dog, ask the dog to either sit or lie down next to the owner and the owner should then step on the leash. This will keep the dog from jumping and teach the dog to stay quiet while the visitors are entering the house. The visitors should be advised not to touch the dog or even look at the dog as they enter. When the dog is calm, the owner should give the dog a treat or pet the dog as praise and slowly take his foot off the leash. If the dog remains calm, the dog may quietly say hello to the visitors. If the dog is not relaxed, the owner should continue to hold the dog in place by the door with the leash.
At first, this may take some time and I do realize that this method can be somewhat time consuming and visitors may look at the owners and ask why they are not allowing the dog to go free. But owners should stick to the program if they wish to succeed!
Another method of correction would be to simply put the dog in another room until visitors have come in and then give treats to the visitors to give to the dog and visitors must be asked to ask the dog to sit in front of them before giving the dog the treats. This will teach the dog to sit in front of visitors when the dog comes out of confinement instead of jumping.
All members of the household must work with the same program or the dog will not understand why it is okay to jump some of the time and not other times!
If the dog is jumping on the owners as they enter the house this usually means the dog was overly excited at one point and did not get any attention as the owner walked through the door so the dog tried jumping on the owner to see if the dog would get any attention that way and IT WORKED!!! So now the dog sees jumping as a rewarding behaviour even if the owners are yelling at him to stop! The reward comes from touching the dog as the owner tries to push the dog off.
Correction of this behviour can be done by confinement as with the example in dogs jumping on visitors. Alternatively the owner can keep a water bottle filled with water and water alone by the door as a deterrent. Timing of this method is everything! As the owner walks through the door, the owner should grab the water bottle and spray the dog in the eyes with the water and give a firm “NO!” It is important that the owner try not to touch the dog and the water must be sprayed in the eyes of the dog! Many dogs love water but no dog likes to have water sprayed in his eyes while being told “NO!” in a firm tone of voice!
Now, here is where timing is everything! As the dog sits or backs away without trying to jump on the owner, the owner should immediately praise the dog by saying “good dog” in a happy voice and can then pet the dog to give the dog the physical attention he was looking for. The timing must be done correctly for this method to work so the dog will associate the attention he is looking for with calm, non jumping behaviour and associate the jumping behaviour with the unharmful but annoying water spray in the eyes!
Sherry Bedard is the author of Sherry’s Secret Dictionary, A Guide to Your Dog. She is an animal behaviourist and trainer working in Montreal. She founded Animal instincts school in 2005 and she teaches people how to become dog trainers and consults on a 1-to-1 basis with dog owners that are having problems with their dog. Sherry also teaches canine and feline behavior to students in the adult education program at Vanier College and regularly volunteers her time and expertise at local animal shelters in Montreal. Recently, Sherry started a dog club called Power Paws Dog Club which offers free training in canine pulling sports.