When you bring home that adorable puppy her dog behavior is so cute. She puts her feet up on you to get your attention, jumps in your lap, jumps up and down on her hind legs begging to be picked up.
And what do you do? You reinforce all those dog behaviors. Give her attention, pick her up, make sure she’s comfortable on your lap. Then, lo and behold, she grows from 15 pounds to 75 pounds and is still jumping on you. That cute puppy behavior is now bad dog behavior. In fact, it’s downright maddening and you can’t get it to stop.
Humans often give dogs mixed signals - telling them to do one thing, but reinforcing very different dog behavior. Or expecting dogs to read our minds - is it ok to jump up sometimes but not others? Which is which? Dogs can’t figure that out.
You probably don’t even know you’re sending mixed signals.
Situations change throughout the day- you love that your dog jumps up on the bed to wake you with sloppy, wet kisses; it is endearing to have your dog greet your return with the big stretch to reach up so you will pick them up or love on them; it is helpful when the dog jumps up on a chair to help you put the leash on the collar.
It becomes a problem when guests come over and the dog jumps on them; when you are dressed up and now dirty feet have ruined your outfit; or when it is just simply not convenient.
STEPS TO STOP THE JUMPING
As humans, it’s our job to teach dogs how we want them to behave. Here are some easy tips to change that unwanted dog behavior.
1. BE CONSISTENT
Figure out what you want and then be consistent with what you desire. Do you want your dog to jump or not? Dogs don’t understand “sometimes".
If the answer to the question is, I want the jumping to stop, then take a look at your situation and ask yourself these questions:
When does it happen?
What are your various responses?
When are you consistent?
When are you not consistent?
How can you be gentle and clear with your responses?
2. DO NOT REINFORCE THE BEHAVIOR
This seems obvious. But oftentimes it’s not. You have to change your behavior before you can expect Fluffy to change hers.
3. GIVE AN INCOMPATIBLE BEHAVIOR COMMAND
The very easiest way to correct this behavior is to give an incompatible behavior. For example, Sit is a great choice. Most dogs know it and it is easy to put a dog into a sit if needed.
4. GO STIFF
When your dog begins jumping, stop your body movement and go stiff. Turn your back slightly. Give the new command “Rover, sit". Help Rover sit if needed.
Let this become your new response to Rover’s jumping. PRAISE the sit. If Rover pops up out of the sit and jumps up, start over. Go stiff, give the command (Rover, sit), help with the sit if needed. PRAISE (and treat if handy) the sit.
As you are consistent, your dog will comply with your new desires. PRAISE each time your dog sits. This is the new polite way of getting your attention. PRAISE whenever your dog comes and sits in front of you. This is the signal “please" for attention, outside, treat, etc.
Super-exciting times to a dog will probably result in the old jumping but be consistent and patient, and as you do this, you gain leadership respect from your dog.
Dog behavior modification can be done very quickly and your relationship will get better and better. Be patient, kind, loving and consistent. Your dog wants to make you happy. Use these few simple steps to STOP THE JUMPING!
O’Neal Hendrix is a premier professional dog trainer in Atlanta, GA. For many years, she has “worked miracles" with dogs and their owners. Check out her dog training blog for her advice about everything dog!