“I have a 7 month old dog. I can’t seem to teach him not to jump up… Recently when I took my children to school and he jumped up onto a lady who got very angry! I try to teach my children how they should behave around the dog, but they are children, and I can’t expect them not to scream if they feel the dogs sharp nails scratching their legs. I have no idea what to do?”
Dogs jump up to be social, to say hello and to get attention. It is very normal for a puppy to try to get closer to your face when he is saying hello. Young pups lick next to and even in their mother’s mouths and other adult dogs. This behaviour demonstrates respect and also a way of begging for food. It is very natural behaviour, but even if they mean well it can be interpreted badly. Children and old people are especially vulnerable if a dog jumps up. On top of this your clothes get dirty from their paws!
Jumping up is often very rewarding for a dog. What do people do if a dog jumps up? They give him a scratch or start talking to him. Or they push the dog away if they have nice clothes on. They say no and look sternly at the dog. One thing is certain, if the dog wants to get attention by jumping up then he will nearly always get it. Even if it is not positive attention he certainly gets negative attention! So we always reward his behaviour.
The best thing to stop jumping up is to completely ignore the behaviour. Stay standing upright, don’t look at the dog, cross your arms and turn 90 degrees (1/4 circle) away from the dog. If the dog follows then turn another 90 degrees. Keep doing this until the dog with a (silent) sigh falls back onto all four paws, then say immediately “good dog” and pat him on his neck. If he jumps up again, repeat this behaviour. Later on you can also add the command “sit” if he sits down himself. You can reward him either by praising him with your voice or by giving a pat.
Most dogs quickly learn the new routine and even sit if they want to be patted. “Sit” is then associated with immediate attention. Some dogs have more trouble changing behaviour and instead redouble their efforts and try to jump up even higher. By being consistent in turning away from him and ignoring the behaviour you will see that eventually all dogs will ask nicely to be patted. They will be sitting more often and ask for a pat by gazing up at you. Actually this is not a bad thing. They are actually saying “please” will you pat me? In this case “please” (or begging) is of course fine. This is self-rewarding-behaviour and the old behaviour will disappear.
But …..there are always people, particular out on the street, that will go straight up to pat a dog and then still push them away if they jump up. They will even do this if you explain that you are training your dog. This is why jumping up is so very difficult to correct. For this sort of cases it is handy to have your dog on a lead (also at home if guests are expected). This way you will have control over your dog and you can train him to greet people appropriately by sitting and not by jumping up.
A puppy has a lot to learn. If you want to teach him not to jump up from the beginning, then you can use the same exercise of turning away and ignoring him. Don’t say anything and reward your puppy as soon as he has all 4 paws on the ground. If you are siting on the sofa and the puppy comes up to you, don’t wait until he jumps up, reward him as soon as he is close to you. You can also use the command “sit” at the same time.
Of course you can also go through your knees. Your puppy is then closer to your face and won’t jump up as easily. Place your finger in his collar to prevent him from jumping up and stroke him with your other hand.
With both puppies and fully grown dogs it is important to reward as soon as you see the desired behaviour. Don’t wait until he does something wrong but watch to see what the puppy does himself and reward the desired behaviour. Almost every puppy that comes from a breeder will sit to get a pat. Make use of this. Use your voice as a reward or a quick pat and you have already trained him to say “please”.
All dog exercises seem so easy to learn on paper. With children in particular, is it often different in practice. They are lower to the ground and are more susceptible to having dogs lick their faces. They swing their arms if a puppy bites their hands or feet, or they run away – it makes your child an ideal playmate for your puppy. More reaction, more attention and thus very rewarding for a dog.
Involving very young children in dog training is not easy. Therefore my advice is to try and prevent difficult situations before they occur. Get them to wear (old) jeans rather than thin, loose jogging trousers. Sharp puppy nails will go right through them. Not very nice!
Or use a crate, also handy if friends come to play and you don’t have time to watch a young dog. Give your puppy his food or a bone in his bench and close the door. Using a crate, the children can come “safely” downstairs and have a quiet breakfast at the table or play on the ground.
The crate is also useful during the mad puppy hour at the end of the day when a puppy is so excited and happy he doesn’t know what to do with himself. You can break this time halfway by putting the puppy in his crate with a stuffed Kong. You then create a win-win situation.
If you don’t want to use a crate, you can close off part of the living room for the puppy so he can move freely. Then he is with you, but safe for the children.
Does your dog jump up and do you want to change this? Or would you like a DoggyIntro with the Children? Please fill in the Registration form and we’ll make an appointment for Behavioural Counseling for Dogs.