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Jumping Up on People

Most normal young dogs have the tendency to jump up on people they greet. Many of us have  unintentionally conditioned our dogs to want to be near our faces by picking them up and holding them up to our faces when they are young. This causes problems later on when the dog is large and insists on jumping up on us in an attempt to be closer to our face. This jumping up to greet is seldom appreciated and can be dangerous when small children are involved. Since the majority of serious dog bites are to children’s faces, it is important to teach the dog not to instinctively reach for the child’s face for attention.

It is wise not to let your puppy lick your face, and children should be taught not to get right into a puppy’s face. Dominant/submissive roles are often expressed this way in canine behavior, and the dog can misinterpret an action and become aggressive when not handled properly by children.

When calling your puppy to you, greet him while crouching down and pet him while he is in the sitting position. Do not let him jump on you to be petted. It can be cute when small puppies run up to you and jump up to be petted. However, if you allow or encourage this behavior, you are unintentionally training the dog that jumping up leads to affection. Never pet or praise the puppy while he is jumping up or immediately after he has done so. Simply put, If he learns that jumping up leads to affection, he will continue to jump.

If your puppy or dog has all ready developed a jumping up habit, you can help him break it. First of all, make sure you are not unintentionally encouraging the dog to jump with your hand motions. If you wish to use a command, such as “Off” or “No Jump,” be sure to use downward hand motions. Most people pull their hands to their chests and yell “Get Down!” when a dog starts to jump. For several reasons, this actually makes it more likely that the dog will jump. First, the upward hand motion encourages the dog to jump on your chest. Second, the yelling excites the dog’s adrenal system, making it more hyperactive and less likely to respond calmly in its attempts to secure your attention. Finally, your reaction definitely gives the dog the attention, and though its negative attention, the dog gets what he was after.

We have found the most effective and humane way of reversing the jumping up habit is to try to replace the behavior with a “Sit” command. If you have trained your dog to sit this should get him off of you. Try to keep treats in your pocket and use the “praise – pat – treat” method of reward for sitting. If your dog will not sit when you give the command then completely ignore him while he is jumping up – – do not even look at him. Your dog will soon tire of leaning against you, especially if if he is not receiving any attention and he will get off. Then, tell him to sit, and if he does, use the “praise – pat – treat” method. If he gets excited and jumps up again, completely ignore him. most dogs will learn in 5 – 10 days that sitting is a more effective way of getting attention than jumping up. Make sure you acknowledge your dog when he comes up and sits in front of you. Give lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior.

Until your dog understands that jumping up results in ZERO attention, you must be patient and ignore the jumping up behavior.

Traditional training methods of kneeing the dog in the chest and stepping on his feet are usually not effective and can be dangerous to the dog. Plus when you make intentional contact with the dog, you are giving him exactly what he wants — attention! Dogs prefer negative attention to no attention at all!

Jumping Up on Children

If you have children old enough to understand, have them practice telling the dog to sit for praise and treats after you have already taught the “Sit ” command. The most important thing in teaching a dog not to jump on children is teaching the child how to react when they see the dog coming. Tell the child to say “Sit” very cheerfully (but not yelling); also, tell them not to run, and not to yell “No” at the dog, and not to pull their hands up toward their chest or face. Instruct them to push their hands downward as they say “Sit.” This will help them teach the dog that he receives attention when he is in the correct position.

No puppy is too young (or dog to old) to learn an acceptable way of greeting. Starting your relationship with your new puppy or dog by establishing a good family routine will help prevent and deter the undesirable jumping habit.

The above information was furnished by Melanie Schlaginhaufen and Judy Allen of Best Friends Bed and Biscuit. Reprinted with permission. For more information or a consultation contact Best Friends Bed And Biscuit @ (336) 643-9096.