Become Better #6:
How to teach your dog not to jump on people
The seriousness of your jog jumping upon you or others depends on his size. You will certainly not be knocked over by a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire terrier, while you or your guest may be in a serious situation if your dog is a 140 pound Great Dane.
Your dog does not think he is doing anything unacceptable. For a dog this is perfectly normal behaviour. Canines greet each other by licking or sniffing each other’s muzzles.
Your “muzzle” is too high, so they try to jump up to reach it. They’re not being rude or pushy; they’re being sociable! We just need to train them to be sociable in human terms.
You’ll need a volunteer to help you with this lesson.
Lesson 6: How To Teach Your Dog Not to Jump Up on People
This lesson is divided into two parts: One about your dog jumping up on visitors, and the other about jumping up on you or your family members.
Read this lesson first, and then practice it with your dog.
A. For Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on Visitors:
- Load up your pocket (or a bag or pouch) with treats.
- Take your dog near the door where you and your visitors most often come into the house. (You and your dog will be inside the house.)
- Ask your helper to come through the door and, as soon as your dog gets within a few feet, have your helper ask your dog to sit in a low, calm voice.
- If your dog sits, immediately praise him and give him a treat. (Your helper makes the request, but you provide the reward for correct behaviour.)
- Repeat this exercise five times.
Not doing what you want? Here is what to do
If your dog doesn’t sit when asked to do so by your helper, move in front of your dog (so you’re facing him) and ask him to sit yourself. Immediately reward his correct behaviour with praise and a treat. Practice this a couple of times: after your helper comes through the door, you step in front of your dog as he approaches the helper, face your dog and ask him to sit, then give the reward. After he sits successfully for you two or three times, ask your helper to ask your dog to sit after coming through the door.
If your dog still won’t sit and keeps trying to jump up on your helper, don’t raise your voice or show impatience; your dog is probably just a bit too excited about greeting your helper. Instead, when your dog doesn’t sit as asked by your helper, instruct your helper to abruptly turn his back on your dog, walk outside and close the door. If your dog then turns to you, do the same—turn your back on your dog. After about 10 seconds, have your helper come back in, approach your dog again and ask him to sit… and again turn his back, walk out and close the door if your dog does not comply. Have your helper keep doing this until your dog sits as requested—then immediately reward your dog with praise and several treats for (finally!) calming down and doing as asked!
Note: If you can get more than one person to volunteer to help you with this lesson, individually at various times, your dog will more quickly learn the correct response (sitting, not jumping) for anyone who comes into the house.
B. For Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on You:
- Think of situations in which your dog is likely to jump on you, and be prepared to ask him to sit before he can do so… ideally, when he gets within six feet of you.
- Practice training sessions where you go out and come back into the house, through various doors. Use the same methods as mentioned above: ask your dog to sit after you come in, and immediately reward the correct response.
- Plan your practice sessions for when your dog is relatively calm.
- Use your verbal sit command as well as your hand motion, as learned in Lesson 2. Important: Keep your voice low and calm. This may require diligence and practice on your part, especially if you’re coming home after being gone all day and are used to greeting your dog with excitement and enthusiasm. Remember: the goal is to control your dog’s excitement so that he’s less likely to jump up on you. So try not to sound excited to see him. If you’re calm, he’ll calm down quicker.
- Give praise and treats when your dog sits as requested. Tip: Have a baggy of treats ready outside your door, so you can quickly reward your dog for sitting whenever you come into the house.
- Don’t have your dog sit for long. Ask him to sit, give him the rewards as soon as he does so, and then move away and allow him to follow. Give him a chew toy or do something that takes his focus away from jumping up to greet you.
Not doing what you want? Here is what to do
If your dog doesn’t sit when asked, turn your back on your dog, walk outside and close the door. After about 10 seconds, come back in, approach your dog again and ask him to sit… and again turn your back, walk out and close the door if your dog does not comply. Keep doing this until your dog sits as requested—then immediately reward your dog with praise and several treats for doing as asked.
If you’re practising in other areas and other situations where you dog might jump on you, immediately turn your back on him if he doesn’t sit when asked. Don’t talk to him. The point is to teach your dog that he’ll lose your attention when he jumps up on you or doesn’t sit when asked.
Important: When your dog jumps up on you, do not attempt to correct this behaviour by pushing him away with your hands, or by bringing up your knee to block his jump or force him backwards. This is what many trainers tell people to do, but don’t do it. Most dogs will perceive this action as play, and they’ll get even more excited and will jump back with greater enthusiasm. This is the not the effect you want.
Instead, follow the above instructions for deterring their jumping behaviour (turn your back, walk away). Being ignored by you is “punishment” enough for most dogs, and they’ll quickly learn to sit as asked, rather than jump up.
Practice Plan for Lesson 6
Practice these lessons several times a day. Vary the time of day and location.
You may ask a friend or family member who doesn’t live at your house to help with this practice by “paying you a visit”. Tell that person to wear some rather sturdy, less than fine clothes, as your dog might jump upon them while he is still learning. So tell them not to wear fine silk blouses, jumpers made from delicate knits where a loop may run out, and so forth.