One of the most common requests I get as a trainer is to teach dogs not to jump on people, especially their owners.
Luckily there are a few simple tricks you can use to teach your dog to keep all four feet on the floor.
Dogs jump for a variety of reasons, but the main two reasons dogs jump are because they're excited and because jumping is a self-rewarding behavior (on other words: It's fun!) Fortunately, we can easily teach our dogs that it is also fun and rewarding to greet people with feet on the floor!
Here's how it works:
Think of the situations where your dog is most likely to jump. Usually it's when you come home and open the door, when they are first let out of their crate, or when visitors arrive. In all of these situations you can prepare ahead of time to reward your dog for keeping feet on the floor before their feet ever leave the floor! Try to have treats or toys available and ready in all of these situations.
When you open the door
Try tossing a handful of treats in the door before you enter. Your dog will be focused on the treats when you walk in the door. The moment they finish eating the treats, toss a few more down before they have a chance to jump. Create a habit of looking for treats on the floor when you walk in the door.
What if your dog doesn't like treats or you don't want to carry treats with you? Try tossing their favorite toy or ball away from the door to initiate a game of fetch. Often a dog will not jump if they are occupied with chewing on a toy or want you to throw the ball for fetch.
When visitors arrive
If you know you have a visitor arriving, occupy your dog with something away from the door. A Kong in their crate or another room works well. Avoid having your dog be the first one to greet a visitor. Let your dog out of their crate once your visitors have gotten inside and are seated. If your dog is still wound up, try tossing treats or the ball for them before they say hello. Ask your guests to keep their voices and body language calm.
Avoid rewarding jumping
It is always best to reward your dog for what they are doing correctly. Sometimes though, your dog jumps before you have a chance to distract them! If that is the case, try going back out the door and trying again. You can also turn your back on the dog (though you want to be careful this doesn't turn into a game!) If your dog does jump on you, try and avoid pushing them off (they want your attention so touching them rewards the jumping behavior!) If you have no other option, turn your back and freeze. The moment they realize they aren't getting attention for jumping, they will likely offer another behavior such as a sit. At that point reward them right away with lots of attention or treats!
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