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  • Holly Leake

How to Stop my Dog from Jumping Up



If you want to understand why your dog jumps up, check out part 1 Why does my Dog Jump up? (pawchores.com)


The question shouldn't be, “How do I stop my dog jumping up”. Instead it should be, "What would I like my dog to do instead?" That mind-set will help you focus on teaching a new behaviour and rewarding it. We need to employ both management and reward based training and consider if we are meeting our dog’s needs, in order to address this behaviour. Before, you start training and management, it’s important to reflect on your dog’s care and determine if there are any needs that going unmet, that could be triggering or contributing to the jumping up.


Needs


You should consider whether the jumping up is a symptom of a need going unmet. If your dog is jumping up you for attention, they may feel bored or lonely and simply desire more interaction from you. Making time for them and ensuring you provide physical and mental exercise daily, can contribute to reducing jumping up behaviour. Every dog deserves love and attention, so it's important we make time for them.


Many dog owners express that jumping up and biting is especially difficult when they work from home. If this is the case, I recommend kettle training. This is as exactly like it sounds. Every time you get up to make a brew, use the time to train your dog while the kettle boils. Just allocating 3-4 minutes to practice training or play a training game, can significantly reduce undesirable behaviours, such as jumping up and nipping.



Kettle training is how I have trained my dog to perform most of his tricks. You will find that little and often is far more effective than an hour of training once a week, and it is more achievable. When you need to get back to work, ensure you have lots of enrichment activities ready, such as food puzzles, filled Kongs and snuffle mats. Keep encouraging independent play and make the most of any short breaks, by engaging your dog’s mind and relieving their boredom.


If your dog is displaying height seeking behaviours, you need to reassure your dog, as ignoring them could be very detrimental. Don’t worry, it is a myth that comforting your dog will make their fear worse, but ignoring or scolding them definitely will. In the moment, you need to increase the distance between your dog and whatever is distressing them. This may also require you to advocate for your dog and politely ask the person to move away and avoid approaching or touching your dog.


It would be beneficial to contact a qualified reward based trainer to help desensitise your dog to his/her triggers and address any other issues you may be struggling with. In the meantime, listen to your dog and be their voice when they feel afraid. Acknowledging their feelings will actually strengthen their resilience, rather than weaken it.



Training


To address jumping up, it is helpful teach your dog a mutually exclusive behaviour. This involves teaching a behaviour that can't occur at the same time as jumping up, such as a settle on a boundary. (your dog can’t jump up at the same time as lying on a mat 😉) The purpose of boundary training is to be able to send your dog to a place when you need them to settle down away from guests.



It can be a safe place, such as a crate or mat. To get started:


-Place a treat on the mat and say ‘mat’, and hold it on the mat until your dog has all 4 paws on the mat. (All rewards should be placed directly on the mat)


- Then introduce a release cue and throw a treat away from the mat as you say ‘free’. Keep practicing ‘mat’ and ‘free’ over and over, so your dog anticipates that you are going to ask them to go on their mat. We want your dog to start voluntarily going back to the mat, after they have eaten the release cue treat.


- If your dog offers a sit or a down on the mat, give them a jackpot reward. We don’t ask for these behaviours but reward them if they are offered.


- Once your dog is confidently offering sits and downs on the mat, and is voluntarily returning to the mat, start adding distance and duration, by moving around the mat and rewarding your dog for staying on the mat.


The key is to practice these skills little and often before introducing guests or even just the sound of the doorbell. If you skip this practice, your dog will be too aroused and distracted to focus, so introducing anything that triggers the behaviour, should be gradual and should involve a rewarding consequence.


I also recommend practicing 'wait', 'stay', 'stop and go' with a flirt pole or tug toy and 'default sits'. These skills along with other impulse control training and disengagement around people, can really help in addressing this behaviour.



Management


Management involves stopping your dog from practicing the behaviour, which is necessary if you are going to train a behaviour to replace the jumping up. Therefore, you should ensure no one gives your dog attention or fuss if they are jumping up. Instead, tell others to calmly turn away from the dog without pushing the dog down, as this can be seen as attention or an invitation to play. Once the dog is on all 4 paws, you can reward with a treat and/or fuss the dog.




If your dog reverts back to jumping up repeat the action of calmly turning away and only give your dog fuss when all 4 paws are on the ground. Having them on lead when you are training around guests and people can also be helpful, as long as its attached to a well fitted harness and not a collar or any aversive equipment. (You should not use lead pops or corrections to address this behaviour.)


It is important that this kind of management is always used with training. If you only ignore your dog for jumping up, without teaching them the desired behaviours, they can become anxious or frustrated and their behaviour may escalate. If the jumping up is actually height seeking behaviour, ignoring your dog could really damage their confidence. Therefore, ensure you don’t ignore the needs of your dog; implement training to teach your dog the behaviours you expect and use management to keep it consistent.


While addressing jumping up is pretty simple, it is the consistency that is the biggest challenge because your training requires the co-operation of everyone that meets your dog, including those that live with you. Make sure you take treats with you on walks and its handy to have a harness or lead that says your dog is 'in training', so that people are likely to be more receptive. If pedestrians want to fuss your dog, ask them to help with your training. Instruct them to ask your dog for a down or sit before giving them a fuss and turn away if your dog jumps up. I have done this countless times, and you would be surprised how many are happy to be involved in the dog’s training.



Conclusion


So, jumping up is caused by inconsistency in behavioural expectations, rewarding the behaviour with attention and fuss and your dog's difficulties in regulating their own emotions, whether that be excitement or anxiety.


Just like any habit, jumping up takes time and effort to successfully break. Therefore, remember to be patient with your dog, and avoid punishing them for something we likely reinforced.


If you need professional help with your dog’s jumping up, please feel free to contact me to arrange a training session.



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