Your doorbell rings. You walk over, open the door, and there is your Mother, ready to take you to lunch… wearing white pants. Next thing you know, your dear Fluffy is paw to pant, your mother’s white pants are soiled, and Fluffy is in the doghouse. While we may want to discourage our dog from jumping on people, we often, unintentionally reinforce this behavior. Fortunately, through patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement we can learn to break this bad habit our dog has acquired.
Understanding why Fluffy won’t sit still when you get home from work is frustrating. It’s even worse when Grandma comes to visit. We know that the last thing you want is for your mom to get a broken hip from your ill-behaved dog! This habit of jumping starts when the puppy is little. Commonly, mother dogs to lick their puppies’ faces – it is common for puppies to return the favor.
When you take your little pup home, licking faces is their best party trick. This small habit becomes reinforced and after they’re much bigger, when you’re not holding them close to your face anymore, they have to jump up to give you a big lick. Because this bad habit has been enforced since they were little, it can difficult to replace with appropriate behavior. With the following tips, however, your dog will be able to stay calm in no time.
Retraining this bad habit starts with your reactions. Yelling at them will often get them more excited. The best way to stop your dog’s jumping habit is simply to ignore them. When they run up to greet you after a long day, turn away from them. It may seem like you’ll be turning in circles, but until all four paws are on the ground, will it be okay to acknowledge them.
After they’ve settled, make sure that you’re praising them in big ways! A treat and a few head scratches will go a long way. If there are multiple people in your household, everyone needs to be on board with this new retraining. Oftentimes, it’s the people that take longer to train! If visitors come over, they also need to ignore your dog until all four paws are on the floor. Even if one person is giving your dog attention, the lesson will not be learned.
When you feel that your dog is ready to handle visitors, make sure you’re prepared. Keep them on a leash so that you can control their jumping behavior if it does get out of hand. Many people use a bed or mat specific to certain rooms and use it as a training pad. When the dog goes into the room, they know to go to their designated pad. This will ensure that your dog isn’t preoccupied with jumping on guests instead.
It’s best to keep them occupied while they’re sitting on their mat with a hard chew toy. Crates will also do the trick for keeping your dog in a specific place so that your guests can enjoy themselves without having your dog jumping all over them.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. It can be difficult to stop your dog from jumping, especially since this habit is often reinforced (usually unintentionally). It might take a while to retrain this bad habit, but thankfully we can always be sure that our dogs will always be happy to see us when we get home!