Jumping: A Common Dog Behavior and What You Can Do About It

Hi, folks. It’s me, your old buddy, Spike.

The other day I got this email from a young dog that was confused and upset about something that had happened to him. I hear about this type of problem a lot during the holiday season and since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought today might be a good day to discuss this common dog behavior and how you can work with your dog to correct it. Here is his email:
Dear Spike,
Last week my humans had guests over for dinner and I was very excited. When the people came into the house, I jumped up on one of them to greet her and lick her face. It’s the same way I usually greet my own humans when they come home, so I thought it was the right thing to do. However, this particular human didn’t like me jumping up on her and said that I had scratched her and ripped her pantyhose. I’m not sure what pantyhose are, but my toenail apparently caught on it and this was a big deal. I was yelled at by my female human and then my male human drug me into the bedroom by my collar. I had to spend the rest of the night in there and everyone was mad at me. Can you tell my humans that I am sorry and give some advice to help with this? I don’t want to get in trouble every time someone comes in our house, but I still don’t know what I did wrong.
                                                               “Bad Dog in Ohio”
First, Bad Dog, I should tell you that there really are no bad dogs, we just sometimes do bad things because we don’t know any better. You were only doing what comes naturally. As you already know, we often jump on humans because w e are happy to see them. Some of us also do it because we want attention and we were rewarded with this attention when we did it in the past. Since we are basically getting a mixed message from our humans, it is easy to see why we would then try to jump on other humans when they come to visit.
I usually tell people that the best way to prevent this kind of confusion for your dog is to make sure that everyone in the household knows that dogs are not allowed to jump on people. Once the dog receives a consistent message that this is unwanted behavior, they will usually stop jumping. The best way to get this message across to a dog is by simply ignoring the dog when it tries to jump on you. If you see the jump coming, you can turn away from the dog, so that the dog misses you or the jump will kind of “bounce”  off of you. Continue to ignore your dog and he will realize that jumping is not going to lead to you giving him attention.

You can also deflect this type of behavior by giving the dog something else to do. Try telling him to “sit.” His mind is then occupied with sitting and he will know that if he sits, you will reward him for this correct behavior. Trainers call this alternate behavior training. Once your dog has settled down and is sitting, you can then lavish him with attention by giving him a neck messages, a rub behind the ears, or a belly rub.

Ahhhhh…..
Where was I? Oh — in closing, keep in mind that it will take a little time for your dog to get the message, but with all family members participating in this training, your dog will lose interest in jumping fairly quickly and the next time you have guests, you can show them how good your “bad dog” has become.

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