Answering your questions: My dog jumps on people when greeting them

A new feature, we’re busy answering YOUR questions through our blog! If you submit your question to us by this Friday, March 15, you can win a FREE training consult from us. Contact us with your questions today.

And now to answer one of the questions that we have already received!

My dog loves meeting other people–a little too much. She will jump on them and we want her to stop doing this. How can we teach her not to jump on strangers?

FitzSits
Fitz demonstrates a polite sit for attention 🙂

In the dog world, enthusiastic greetings include jumping on each other, but it doesn’t work so well for dogs living in the human world. It’s bad manners! It can also possibly cause injury if a larger dog jumps on a child or elderly person. Therefore, it’s important to reinforce polite greetings at all times with all people. Our approach in positive reinforcement is to teach an alternate acceptable behavior, so in this case, we’ll teach that a sit instead of a jump is the desired behavior.

First, remember that it’s important to work with your dog in small steps in easy situations before trying more challenging scenarios in different environments. Work inside the home in a room with no distractions and start working on basic obedience cues such as focus and sit/sit-stay. By getting the dog to focus on you and sit until being released, you are teaching her to control her impulses and look to you for direction. Once you are able to build good skills in the home you can start working in your yard, on the street on walks, in public parks and other places.

Second, make sure to never reinforce the jumping behavior. Whenever your dog jumps on you, fold in your arms, turn away and walk off. Do not make eye contact or speak to the dog and do not approach her until she has calmed down. “All four on the floor” should be the rule before the dog gets ANY type of attention. Be persistent and consistent with this. Do not allow others in your family or social circle, or strangers, give her any sort of attention or petting when she is jumping. It is okay to ask them to not pet her when she is jumping and explain why. It is confusing for a dog to be rewarded for behavior by one person and then be expected to know not to do it with another person. Consistency is key. The polite sit should be the behavior that gets her the attention she wants!

Third, practice with people in real-life scenarios. Once you have mastered the focus, sit and sit-stay cues in a variety of situations with varying levels of distractions, you can bring in strangers to work on a polite greeting. Have the stranger approach and give him a few training treats to keep in his pocket. Have the dog sit and if she remains in a sit position, the stranger can reward with a small treat and attention. If the dog gets up, even just slightly, have the stranger turn around and walk away. Take another try. If the dog is too worked up, take a break. If the dog does a perfect job, consider “jackpotting” the behavior by feeding her lots of small treats. The idea is, the better the behavior, the greater the reward. 🙂

These tips are simple and will work on dogs that don’t have other underlying issues, such as fear or anxiety, or possible aggression towards people. Dog behavior is complex and these tips may not work in all cases. Therefore, we recommend a complete consultation from a professional if these tips do not work or if your dog has more serious behavioral issues. Contact us if you have more questions or would like to schedule a consultation.

Thank you and happy training!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

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