Many dog owners face the challenge of training their dog not to jump on people. It can be frustrating and embarrassing and we often unintentionally reward this behaviour. Whether it is the first time we bring our sweet puppy home and give them cuddles while they jump up on us, or even if we say “No!” and push them down, dogs learn that jumping up works to get our attention. Below are some ideas to help teach your dog appropriate ways to greet people.
- When your dog jumps up, you should turn away and ignore them – SAY NOTHING. Deny your dog your attention until it keeps all 4 paws on the floor. Most dogs are rewarded by us for jumping up because we still give them attention – even if it is negative.
- Wait for your dog to be standing on all 4 paws, and praise immediately while the dog is not jumping.
- If your dog gets too excited and jumps again, just turn away again, and wait for them to stop.
- If your dog decides to continue to jump at your back, leave the room. You only need to be out of the room for 30 seconds at a maximum, and there needs to be a door between you and your dog.
- Return to your dog.
- Continue repeating this exercise until your dog no longer jumps. You can set this exercise up by coming home (entering through the front door) often.
- Another option for this exercise is to enforce sit when you come home. Ask your dog to sit and reward with calm verbal praise and touch when they do. This way your dog is working for you and earning your attention.
- Practice this often! Have family and friends help you when they come inside your home.
For a dog that is still too excited during the above steps, another option is to enter your house and completely ignore the dog (no eye contact or anything). Initially this may take quite awhile, but as soon as your dog settles and lies down, you can then say hello. We are teaching the dog that they will only get attention when they are calm. Begin with people living in your home, then familiar, then new people coming to the house.
You could also have your dog away from the door (ex: in their kennel, behind a gate) during all of the initial excitement. Teach them to go to this place for big rewards when the doorbell rings. Only take them out when once they are calm and settled. This moves them away from the excitement, and teaches them that they need to be calm in order to be able to greet people. You could also bring them out on leash to greet the guests to further influence their behaviour.
We often make our hello’s and goodbye’s very exciting, so ensure everyone who greets your dog does so in an appropriate and calm manner. Remember this training takes patience but will be a worthwhile process once you have a well-mannered canine greeting your guests!