Why do dogs jump up on people?
As with all behavior challenges, the best place to start is to try to understand the reason or motivation behind the behavior. Dogs jump on people for a variety of reasons; including:
First, let's discuss some less effective (but very common) approaches:
Some people approach jumping training by correcting their dogs when they jump. This is not the most effective approach, because it requires allowing your dog to rehearse the unwanted behavior first, which is counter-productive. In addition, some corrections can actually be reinforcing for the dog, because even though they are being yelled at or otherwise punished, they are getting attention which they find to be reinforcing. Punishment as a teaching tool also damages a dog’s desire to learn, lowers their confidence, and can affect the dog-human relationship.
Other people approach jumping training by turning their body to remove their attention every time a dog jumps. The idea is to teach dogs that they will only receive attention if they are not jumping. The problem with this is that it is very
difficult to be consistent and to get the timing right -- especially if your dog is mostly jumping on strangers or visitors who you don’t feel comfortable instructing about your training methods. It also tends to create frustration for the dog, which isn't always the most effective teaching strategy. And for some dogs, the motion of a person turning their body around actually makes them more excited, and they just continue to jump up onto the person's back.
Lastly, other people approach jumping training by teaching their dog a sit-stay. This is a great first step, but the training can’t end there. The problem with only teaching a sit-stay, is that for most dogs there is so much pent-up energy from holding that sit-stay that once they are released, they will explode into a jump. It also fails to address how a dog should behave around people whenever they are not being held in a sit-stay. You can’t ask your dog to sit and stay the entire time a guest is visiting, or when you’re walking past a person on the street. Also, for some dogs, sitting during an entire greeting is unrealistic, unnecessary, and can even be uncomfortable or stressful for them.
So, what to do instead? The most effective approach consists of 2 parts:
1. Proactively teach a default behavior of all 4 paws on the ground, even when around people and exciting distractions.
2. Use management methods to adapt the environment, your routines, or your behavior to help your dog succeed.
Check out details on how to do both below:
1. Proactively teach a default behavior of 4 paws on the ground
2. Use management strategies to set up for success
+ Some additional cues and behaviors that can help:
I promise: with this proactive training and management, plus plenty of consistency and patience - you'll start noticing some huge improvements in your jumpy pup's greeting behavior!