It is a natural canine behavior to jump up in order to get attention. It is a behavior, however, that we should not allow and should be discouraged from happening at all times. A dog that jumps up is not only annoying, but can be somewhat dangerous to the unsuspecting ‘victim’. Allowing your dog to jump up in play, will only confuse him, and it is unfair to ‘reward’ him for jumping up during play, and ‘discipline’ him for jumping up at other times you consider inappropriate.

We must take the time to ‘teach’ our dogs the correct way to greet people. There are several effective techniques you can use to stop a dog from jumping up. It is important to note that in the past, inappropriate methods have been commonly taught and used to discourage jumping up behaviors. The following techniques should NEVER be used:

NEVER attempt to knee a dog in its chest. This is a very dangerous technique, and the fact that it has been used for many years does not make it any less dangerous for the dog. A misplaced knee at an inappropriate time could cause injury to the dog’s sternum, tracheal area, or head area. The many reported cases of injuries to dogs has prompted the progressive canine training community to advocate humane and effective alternative techniques.

NEVER step on the back paws while the dog is up on you OR squeeze the front paws until the dog pulls away. This practice can produce a counterproductive result. Like children, dogs seek attention, and will often accept both positive and negative forms of reward.

Begin to introduce your dog to a behavior modification technique known as “Nothing In Life Is Free”. This concept is practiced by requiring your dog to say, “Please” whenever he solicits any form of attention from you or when you reward him in any way (ie. treats, affection, play, food, etc.). Your dog says, “Please”, by simply sitting by you, then you reinforce that behavior. At the time of reward, be careful not inadvertently reinforce the wrong behavior. If your dog is in a sit position, then jumps up to receive the reward, the “Jump” will be the behavior rewarded and therefore, reinforce the ‘wrong’ thing. Practice the three “R”s:

  1. Request: Sit Stay
  2. Response: Dog Sits
  3. Reward: Treat and/or Praise

Through the use of the above technique, your dog should begin to modify the “Jumping Up” behavior to a “Sit” behavior.

When your dog does jump up, simply turn your body, thereby allowing the paws to fall to the floor. Simultaneously say, “OFF” (The command “Down” should be reserved for a completely different response). Try not to touch (push away with your hands) your dog when he does jump up. This could reinforce what he wanted all along, which is your attention and touch. When your dog does have all four paws on the floor, request a “sit”. Once he is sitting, immediately but calmly reward him with praise and / or treats. In this way, your dog will learn that the real reward comes when he presents a “sit” instead of a “jump”. Have all family members and even visitors practice this reward system. Within a short period of time, you will see amazing results.

When guests come to visit, you should not have to banish your pet to the back yard or behind closed doors! Taking the time to practice consistent, humane training techniques with your dog will not only communicate your expectations and house rules, but it should also be a fun activity and bonding experience for human and canine family members alike.

Please feel free to call the shelter (208-788-4351) or email us with any additional questions or comments.