Teaching your dog not to jump

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Most puppies need to be trained not to jump up at people. Most young dogs are very interested in any new person. They are so eager to meet your visitors, that they will jump up on their legs in greeting. The dog likes it. Most people don’t.

This is in fact submissive behavior on the dog’s part. It is showing that it has no intention of starting a fight with the person. However, the jumping can be very frightening for children. A big dog can easily knock a young child over, without intending to hurt them at all. This can lead to some kids becoming terrified of dogs. This is unnecessary and I am sure you will want to make sure that your dog does not cause that kind of reaction.

For adults, it is usually not scary (unless they had a bad experience in childhood) but it can be annoying if the dog is wet or muddy and leaves marks on their clothes. However, it is often the case that the person will react in a friendly way, by stroking the dog, saying hello and playing with him. People may do this either because they genuinely like dogs, or to stop the dog embarrassing them by sniffing their groin.

This can be a big problem if you are trying to teach the dog not to jump. He gets a confusing message. On the one hand, you are saying ‘Down!’ or calling him to you; on the other hand, the visitor is clearly rewarding him for his jumping with lots of lovely attention. So it is better for you not to react when he jumps on a stranger.

If you concentrate on training him when he is jumping on people that he knows, you can enlist their help. Be sure they know that the dog is not allowed to jump up at them and must not be rewarded for it. If he jumps, they should just stand very still and not even make eye contact with him.

You can do the same when he jumps on you. He will soon get down and when he does, you can speak the command ‘Down’ or ‘Off’ and reward him. This way he is only rewarded for getting off – not jumping. Or you can wait a moment, then tell him to ‘Sit’ and reward him for that.

You and your family members will probably know the dog well enough to see when he is about to jump at you. You can forestall him by turning sideways and slowly walking away. This will show him that you are neither afraid of him nor aggressive toward him, and it will calm him.

It is very important not to punish the dog for jumping by slapping him down or grabbing his paws. Remember that the dog is showing his submissiveness by doing this – so if you are aggressive with him, he thinks his message has not come across and he will try even harder with the same behavior. It is very important not to either reward or punish the unwanted behavior when you want to train a dog not to jump.