Anti-Jumping Training

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Tired of your dog jumping on people they meet on walks? That's completely understandable! It's a normal behaviour for a dog, but often not a socially-accepted behaviour in our society. 

Let's look at some strategies. 

Management

Before greeting a person, hold the handle of your leash but drop the slack on the ground. Where the leash meets the ground, stand with one foot on the leash. This prevents your dog from jumping up more than 1-2 inches off the ground. It will not change their behaviour, it will only prevent them from knocking down a small child, scaring a person who is afraid of dogs, scratching or bumping an elderly person who is frail or has thinning skin, and mucking up someone's Sunday best. 

A large brown and white haired Husky jumping up on a man.

*Only do this if the leash is attached to a harness, not a collar! Tension on the collar can do damage to a dog's neck. 

You can also scatter a small handful of food on the ground at your dog's feet as a person is approaching so that they are busy sniffing and foraging and NOT jumping! 

Look at That

The "Look at That" game is a really fun one to toss in here, especially if you have a VERY enthusiastic greeter. If you have not yet played the "Look at That" game with your dog, check it out here.

Teaching them "four on the floor" for greetings:

You may choose to have a "decoy" person to practice with before trying this out in the real world. Ensure the decoy knows the rules of the game before starting and they are going to play by the rules! 

  • Step 1: The decoy person approaches and stops within 3-4 feet of your dog, still and silent. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed a stream of 5-6 small treats while they stand there and the decoy person remains still and silent. The decoy person walks away once the treat-stream is done. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 1.5: if your dog jumps on the decoy person, the decoy person must immediately turn their back and walk back to their starting point. The handler does nothing. Then, try again! This may take 5-6 repetitions before it "sinks in". The consequence (the exciting person leaving) should be immediate and the next attempt at least 5-10 seconds later. 
  • Step 2: The decoy person approaches and stops within 1-2 feet of your dog, they make eye contact with your dog and say a calm "hello", but no petting. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed a stream of 5-6 small treats while they stand there and the decoy person chats calmly to the dog. The decoy person walks away once the treat-stream is done. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 3: The decoy person approaches while making eye contact with your dog and saying "hi" in a more excited voice, stopping within 1-2 feet of your dog, but no petting. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed a stream of 5-6 small treats while they stand there. The decoy person walks away once the treat-stream is done. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 4: The decoy person approaches excitedly, stopping within 1-2 feet of your dog, but no petting. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed a stream of 5-6 small treats while they stand there. The decoy person walks away once the treat-stream is done. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 5: The decoy person approaches excitedly, stopping within 1-2 feet of your dog, reaching to pet but freezing with their hands outstretched at shoulder-height. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed a stream of 5-6 small treats while they stand there. The decoy person walks away once the treat-stream is done. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 6: The decoy person approaches, stopping within 1-2 feet of your dog. If your dog's feet are on the ground, click/"yes!" and feed. Feed 1-2 small treats while they sit there. Say "go say hi" and allow them to interact with the person. If your dog jumps up at any point, say "too bad" and then walk them away to about 4-5 feet and wait for 5-10 seconds before trying again. Repeat 5x.
  • Step 7: Now practice with regular people on walks! If your dog jumps up at any point, say "too bad" and then walk them away to about 4-5 feet and wait for 5-10 seconds before trying again. Repeat as needed, but if it continues to happen or the person is non-compliant or too exciting, don't keep trying - just state that your dog is in training and you have to keep moving...and move on. 

Notice that we're not asking for a "sit". Sitting can cause a dog to feel stuck or restricted. We want our dogs to feel like they have choice to move away from the stranger who is interacting with them. 

Remember that no one HAS TO pet your dog especially if your dog is uncomfortable or avoidant. People often feel entitled to, but just like with children, dogs own their own bodies and can make choices. The more choice we allow them in greetings, the more comfortable they will feel and the more social they will remain. 

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