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  • Writer's pictureTammie Howe

Why Your Dog Jumps and How to Correct

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Does your dog jump on everyone that visits? Are you constantly telling him “Get Down!”? Well, part of the problem is in how we are correcting this behavior. Let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective for a second. Your dog hears somebody has arrived to visit him. Yippee! The excitement starts building up! You feel the need to let everyone know now…. “Hey! Ruf Ruf Ruf! They are here to see me!!! Ruf Ruf Ruf!” Hear that? (Off in the distance you hear the owners yelling “shut up! No! Stop barking!!”) My pack is also excited because they are now barking too!!!

The door opens and you look up only to see the visitor is looking right back at you!

(Visitor has looked in and immediately spots the dog and is now wondering how this dog will react to them.)

You have made eye contact!!! YES! This can only mean one thing! They want me to come jump on them! To say hello! Score!!!

So, you proceed as planned and jump up on the visitor! You think…. “man are they gonna be excited to see me up close! Here, allow me to sniff around your tail area for a second as well!”

(Visitor is visibly annoyed and now uses hands to push the dog away. The owner is still “barking” at the guests that have just arrived)

Yay….. they are greeting me back with their front paws! They wanna high five!! We can do that! Here let me give you some kisses also! Life is great!

(Owner is now yelling at the dog “Get DOWN!” Get DOWN!!)

Your dog thinks “Like music to my ears!” I may not speak English but I do know that means I will be getting a treat! My owner always gives me a treat soon after saying “DOWN!”. Yay me! SCORE AGAIN!

What went wrong?

There were key elements that went in to play with this common scenario.

Owners joined their dog in barking at the arriving guests. The visitor made that anticipated welcoming eye contact with the dog. Visitor started playing back with his front paws. Owner starts promising rewards for what his dog is doing at that exact moment.

Keep reading to see how to correct this problem…

Here’s the Fix

Avoid Eye Contact

When there is somebody arriving, let them know that this is a behavior that you are currently working on and if they could come in without acknowledging your dog, and without making eye contact. This is huge in your dog's eyes. Dogs are a lot like us when it comes to eye contact. For instance, if you are at the grocery store and you see somebody at the end of the aisle that you DO NOT want to talk to. What is the first thing you do? You look away! Like you never met them. But hey, what if it is somebody that YOU DO want to talk to? You specifically try and “catch” their eye! Welcoming them to converse more. Eye contact with your dog is welcoming. Here is a test. Go look at your dog now from a few feet away. Make eye contact without saying anything at all…. Did your dog immediately come to you?

Claim Your Space

When a dog is jumping, you must simulate what they naturally do in a pack to correct each other. They claim their space. So simply walk (carefully) into your dog's space. Step into them. No knee to the chest, pinching or stepping on toes. These methods work because you are giving a negative result to something they caused. It will eventually deter the jumping but can also cause subsequent negative reactions. If you claim your space you are letting them know that you are dominant over them and will not tolerate this behavior. You are letting them know that jumping will not be rewarded either.

Keep Your Paws to Yourself

Your dog views your hands as paws just like he has. So, from your dog’s perspective, you are playing along with him. Keep your paws in your pockets if you must but try and not use them to push your dog off of you.

Stop Saying “Down”!

This is a big one and probably the most difficult for owners to remember. Whenever your dog has his front paws up on something…. Be it a door, person, counter, window…. Use the command “OFF”. It is short and sweet which dogs respond to quicker. Most importantly the command “DOWN” is something that you have been rewarding your dog to do. All your dog knows is this…. you have said down before and he was rewarded! Now you're saying down and there must be a reward coming soon. Train yourself to say “OFF” for any time your dogs’ front paws are up off the ground and on anything whether it’s a person, table, door, countertop, car…. you get the idea. ANYTHING!

If your dog is kenneled

· Come in nonchalant and do not greet your dog right away.

· Put your things away and maybe change clothes or something to delay the greeting some.

· When you do approach your dog if he is in a kennel, do so without eye contact. Then simply take him directly outside.

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