How To Stop My Dog From Jumping: Why It Happens and How To Stop It?
Joining the list of most common concern’s owners may experience with their dog is unwanted jumping. Like pulling on the lead, or unwanted barking, jumping is something we as Trainers discuss with owners on a regular basis.
Some of you may be aware that there are many different reasons why a dog may be displaying certain behaviours. While there are several reasons why the jumping may have begun initially, it often comes down to the fact that it has been going on for some time and therefore is now a learned behaviour, or bad habit. Usually easy to prevent, often very difficult to stop.
Let’s discuss some of the possible reasons WHY your dog is jumping
In some cases unwanted jumping is simply to gain our attention. Your dogs way of saying “HEY, LOOK AT ME”. They will use jumping to gain our attention and often they get our attention from the very behaviours we like the least. Unwanted jumping is particularly common and needs to be deterred. It is our responsibility to teach the dog that this behaviour is not ideal. The issue with this is, well-intentioned as the owner may be, it can be extremely easy to inadvertently reward the behaviour or give the dog exactly what it wanted despite never meaning to.
Excitement can look like many things. An over-excited dog may vocalise, pace, become quite erratic and JUMP. This could occur when you return home from work, arrive at the park, get the lead out or get ready for play. Again, it can be easy to involuntarily reward the behaviour by reacting in these moments. It is important that you do not engage (in attention, greeting, play etc) until your dog is calm and all four paws on firmly on the ground!
Ever noticed that when your dog becomes fearful or overwhelmed, they may jump up or “crawl” up your leg?
This learned behaviour can also occur if your puppy gets a fright, feels anxious or unsure in their environment. In this moment, we have two options; we can ignore the anxious behaviour and reward puppy when it displays resilience and confidence, or ….. we can give in, pick up puppy and give it a cuddle, rewarding anxious behaviour and creating an issue for the long run.
Some dogs will test the waters, especially with new people. If you have found that your dog jumps on other people and not you it is often because our visitors have inadvertently rewarded them. This results in dogs thinking it is ok to jump on any visitors to your home but have learned not to jump on you.
They know you will not tolerate it, but perhaps John will be a push over….
How to STOP your dog from jumping up
Prevention is always the best cure. This should start during early development. Puppies are easily encouraged by excitable owners when it comes to jumping up. For many, the issue begins here. It can be hard to resist an adorable puppy, but we must stress that deterring the behaviour early will be key to preventing this behaviour in the future. While it is difficult to foresee the damage when a tiny puppy bounces off your shins, we can guarantee that it won’t be as cute when they’re older, bigger and much stronger. Be vigilant now for a more harmonious future.
Whilst you may feel that your reprimanding, scolding or ‘telling off’ may be disciplining your dog, it is important to remember that dogs do not speak English and therefore do not know what you’re saying. You may actually be giving your dog exactly what it wants, your attention.
Instead of scolding or trying to tell your dog to stop, simply IGNORE the behaviour. Don’t react, don’t speak, just ignore it.
Consistency in ALL Situations:
Another common issue that can lead to jumping issues is inconsistency
Scenario 1: A stranger approaches to pet your dog and your dog jumps up
“Oh, I am so sorry” you say. The stranger replies with “it’s okay, I love dogs” and continues to pet your dog. This is rewarding undesirable behaviour. It needs to be deterred, in every situation.
Scenario 2: Your Childs friend comes over and your dog jumps up to test boundaries or to greet. The child squeals or perhaps runs. This will turn jumping into a fun game. This is rewarding the behaviour.
At all times, you need to be in control. Place your dog in a calm and controlled sit, and only when it’s calm, can pats and attention occur.
An Alternative Behaviour:
When we ignore a behaviour, we give our dog the opportunity to come up with an alternative to get his prize. If jumping doesn’t work, he may opt for something else like a “sit”, this is when you praise your dog and with enough repetition, your dog will learn to sit for attention rather than to jump up.
Remember, even though jumping may not bother you or those in your family, a dog that jumps could knock someone over like a child or an elderly person.