No Fido! Off! Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry that my dog jumped on you. He just really loves people…”
Is your dog a jumper? Does he bark and whine when you pass people on walks? Is he unruly when guests come over? The solution for breaking this embarrassing habit is really quite simple. All it takes is training, patience and practice practice practice. Try these easy exercises:
First, stop letting everybody pet your dog. Dogs that whimper and whine when they see people are excited with the expectation of eventually getting pet. You’ve got to change that mindset. Instead of having people equal excitement, make them neutral (neither positive nor negative). Ask people to ignore your dog – no touch, no talk, no eye contact – until your dog can walk past someone or stand calmly next to you while you talk to someone without getting excited. Dogs are not public property (Can I get an “Amen!”); everybody doesn’t need to pet them. It might help to get a training vest that says “IN TRAINING” or “DO NOT PET” to help people understand the situation as they’re approaching. Almost all of my board and train dogs wear vests out in public during the early stages of their training. It helps them focus on me rather than everybody else.
Next, teach your dog to maintain a “Sit” while getting petted. This exercise starts with you at home. Consistency matters! When you come home, do you excitedly greet your dog? Do you let him jump on you? If so, shame on you! Like it or not, you’re conditioning your dog to be excited and hyper whenever someone comes through the door. Instead, ignore your dog when you come home – easier said than done, I know! – wait for him to calm down before you acknowledge him. Then make him sit calmly to be petted. If he gets up, reinforce the “Sit” command until he keeps his bottom glued to the floor. From that moment on, or at least until the jumping habit is completely broken, make your dog sit every single time before you pet him. (Consistency.)
After your dog is able to pass people without getting excited, take things one step further. Teach your dog to sit at your side when you’re talking to someone. Ask the person to ignore your dog – no touch, no talk, no eye contact – then give your dog a command like “Go say hi” and encourage your dog to calmly approach that person, tell your dog to “Sit,” and instruct the person to pet your dog “as long as he’s sitting – if he stands up, please stop petting him.” You can even stand on the leash while your dog is getting petted as an added measure to ensure your dog doesn’t jump. If your dog jumps, bring him back to your side and try the exercise again until he’s successful from start to finish. This teaches the dog that greeting people must now be done with permission, and there are rules for it: wait for permission, approach calmly, sit to be petted.
Lastly, practice practice practice. If your dog is a jumper, think about how many times he’s jumped on people before? Hundreds of times maybe? Now double that number and practice good behaviors to break the old habits. Before you know it, you won’t have to make excuses or apologize for your dog’s bad behavior. You’ll finally have that well-mannered dog, and you’ll ask yourself “Is this the same dog?”
Happy Training. Remember, don’t complain…train!
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