One of the most common behavior problems that can end in a dog being surrendered to a shelter is JUMPING! Jumping is a major issue with young, small, and medium dogs. The thing is, this is natural behavior.
So why do dogs jump?
For the most part, dogs jump because they’re excited and because humans are tall! Dogs will often jump to get at something high up or during play. Even though jumping is one of the biggest problems with dog owners, it’s one of the easiest problems to fix. You can’t stop the dog from jumping ever again, but you can stop the dog from jumping on you. Eventually, with diligence and as the dog gets older, the behavior can be completely eliminated.
How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping
Stopping your dog from jumping is all about rewarding a behavior you like instead of rewarding the dog’s natural instincts. When you address these instincts, there are tons of ways to fix a jumping problem.
Teach “Four on the Floor”
“Four on the Floor” is a way to encourage dogs to keep their paws on the ground instead of jumping up on you to get attention. All you have to do is reward your dog when all four paws are on the ground. Yep, that’s it! You can reward them for keeping four paws on the floor at any time, not just times where the dog is most likely to jump. Four on the Floor also helps to promote having a calm temperament all around because you’re basically rewarding your dog for being calm.
Ignore the Bad Behavior
I know this one is hard. But when the dog jumps, you have to ignore it. Every time. And you have to make sure you’re incredibly consistent. If you reward jumping even occasionally, it makes the whole process so much longer. If the dog is just jumping on you, the best thing to do is turn away from the dog and wait until the dog has all four paws on the floor before giving attention.
Sometimes the dog can escalate to biting at your skin or your clothes or scratching you. This is distressing, of course. THIS is when it is okay to give what is known as a “no reward marker” or NRM. A good NRM is the phrase “too bad.” If your dog is physically hurting you, make sure to practice the behavior in a place where you can walk out of the room and start again. For example, let’s say you are practicing no jumping at the doorway. Start with “Four on the Floor,” and ignore any jumping until the dog has his paws on the ground. If the dog starts pulling at your clothes, walk back through the doorway, wait for three seconds, and then walk back in to start over. This just gives a second level of removal so the dog knows he really messed up this time!
Give Your Dog A Chance to Jump
One thing I’ve learned in my years of training is that the best thing is to give the dog an outlet for the behavior that he’s already predisposed to doing. For exceptionally jumpy dogs, I like to teach the command “touch”. Touch is an easy behavior to teach. All you do is hold the reward in place with your thumb and encourage your dog to investigate. When he comes to investigate, say “touch” and reward him. The goal is for him to touch your fingers with his nose as if hitting a reward button. Pretty simple. Once your dog understands the trick, you can have him leaping in the air to touch your hand in no time. It’s a great way to get out that excess energy in an appropriate manner.
Reward Your Dog for Getting “Off”
This is for dogs that get on surfaces that they’re not supposed to be on. For that pesky counter surfing problem, the best way to deter your dog from it is to teach your dog that there’s just nothing all that exciting on the counter. To set your dog up for success, don’t leave things your dog would want where your dog can get it. Second, whenever your dog goes to start checking counters, read his mind and reward him for still having his paws on the floor. When he gets close to the counter, just before he’s tempted to jump, give him a “good boy” and a reward.
If you don’t want your dog on furniture, you should teach him the command “Off”. The easiest way to teach this command is similar to touch except we’re using a different verbal cue. When your dog is on a surface he shouldn’t be on, say “Off” and then point to where he should be (like the ground), and reward him once all four paws are on the correct surface.
Don’t get discouraged!
Remember, for your dog jumping is normal. While we don’t like it, a jumpy dog is just a dog being a dog, so you have to cut him some slack. You also have to remember that while jumping can be greatly reduced, all bets are off if there’s something really exciting happening and your dog may revert to old behaviors for a brief moment. If your dog starts jumping again, don’t stress, just remember to always reward him for having all four paws on the ground.
Is your dog really jumpy? How have you remedied the situation or do you just let it happen and not worry about it? Let me know in the comments!