Jumping is a common training challenge and is usually attention-seeking behaviour. Unknowingly we
"teach" our dogs to jump up on us by rewarding them each time they do so by touching them (even its
simply to push them off), playing with them, or by simply speaking to them (even if your tone isn't
pleasant it can be rewarding to the dog).
The trick to dealing with jumping is to carefully manage your dog's behaviour so that he has few
opportunities to jump on people, and when he does, he isn't rewarded for doing so. At the same time you
need to teach your pup what to do instead of jumping to get attention. Below are some helpful tips!
"Ground" the leash. Before greeting friends or visitors (on walks or at the door), gently step on the
leash at the point where it touches the ground when your pup is standing. If he attempts to jump to say
hello, the leash will momentarily tighten, and he will correct himself. Ignore him as long as he's jumping.
Once all four feet on the floor, or better yet, he sits, he can receive a treat and attention. Only do this on a
Use "timeouts." If your dog insists on jumping on visitors despite their best efforts to ignore him, you
can use a tether timeout to manage the behaviour. A tether is a three- to six-foot length of plastic-coated
cable with snaps at both ends that can be attached to a strategically placed eyehook screw along the
floorboard, and the other end to your dog's collar. Place a dog bed and chew toy at the tether station so
your dog is comfy and has a positive outlet for excess energy.
When your dog is out-of-control and jumping on the company (or you), he gets a cheerful, "Too bad,
timeout," and a few minutes on his tether. If you know in advance he's going to jump up on your visitors
the instant they walk in the door, clip him to the tether before you open the door, and release him after he
settles down. Ignore barking or whining; only release him when he's calm and quiet, so he doesn't learn
that fussing gets him released.
The release part is important! If you don't release him when he settles, he won't get the chance to learn
that calm behaviour wins freedom but out-of-control behaviour wins another timeout. You can also do
timeouts in a crate if your dog is crate-trained, or in a safe dog-proofed room (free from "chewables" if
your dog is in a chewing phase).
Please note: Tethers are only for short, supervised timeouts. A dog should not be left alone on a tether for
long periods of time or left unsupervised.
Teach Your Pup an Alternative to Jumping :
If your dog approaches you and attempts to jump up, immediately turn your back on him. No touching,
pushing or scolding. When he has four paws on the floor again, you may turn back to him and quietly
praise. If he approaches you and chooses to sit, pop a food treat in his mouth.
When you or a guest enter the house, you can encourage him to "Find your toy!" When he finds the toy
and brings it over reward him with play and attention. This helps channel your dog's energy and gives him
an alternative way to greet people!
When your dog approaches you, ask for a sit or down before he has a chance to jump. Then reward him
with a treat or play. If you have to ask more than once, turn away and ignore your dog or walk out of the
room and close the door for a couple minutes.
Teach the concept of "Off." When your dog jumps on you, say "Off" and back up two steps so that
gravity returns the dog's paws to the ground. If your dog's paws remain on the floor, praise him. Then
redirect him by saying "Find your toy" (and help him find one). If the dog jumps again, repeat the above
or do a timeout.
On your walks, ask your dog to sit whenever any one approaches him. Have your pup sit in front of at
least 10 new people this week. When he sits, pop a food treat in his mouth. He is learning that the way to
greet humans is by sitting in front of them. The exercises below are also excellent at teaching this!
Play the "Jumping Game."
Option One : Walk up to someone with your dog on leash and stop at a distance where your dog is close,
but can't touch the person he's greeting. Keep the leash tucked to your belly and do not tug the leash. Both
of you ignore the dog until he voluntarily sits. As soon as he does praise with attention and a treat. Repeat
MANY times with different people.
Option Two : Have one person hold the dog's leash (or tie the leash to a solid object) and have someone
slowly approach your dog from 10 feet away. If the dog keeps four paws on the floor, the person
approaching can continue walking forward until he or she gets close enough to give your dog a treat. If
your dog jumps, stop approaching (or quickly take one step back) and WAIT until he stops jumping
before moving forward once again. When you get close you can give him a treat for keeping four paws on
the floor, or you can WAIT (just out of reach) for him to sit, and then give him a treat.
Variations of this game include: a) Approaching while thumping your chest or holding up a treat, and, b)
Practicing with visitors/strangers approaching your dog instead of you.
Note: In these games it's important that you DO NOT ASK your dog to stop jumping! He must figure out
for himself that his actions have good and bad consequences - and that by not jumping he can "make"
good things happen.