Jumping is one of those major issues people seem to hate about their dogs. So I feel it is time to address this issue here.
Dogs jump for a couple of different reasons, in the picture to the left, you can see my dog, Cooper, jumping in excitement for a tennis ball. But notice how he isn’t using my hubby as a spring board, he is simply showing his excitement, and when asked to sit for the incoming ball throw, he will sit at the speed of lighting, reading himself to launch after the ball.
This polite jumping is not accidental, it is the kind of jumping we taught Cooper was acceptable in this situation. By giving a ‘no reward marker’ or stopping play when his jumping became too rambunctious, we gave him clear and consistent signals that jumping on legs or physically grabbing the ball was unacceptable behavior.
You can teach no jumping at all in a very similar way. The biggest issue people have with jumping is when their dog jumps on them, a visitor, or a child when greeting them at the doorway. The reason dogs do this is not related to dominance or aggression, but because they are excited and happy! The natural way for dogs to greet pack members returning from a hunt is to sniff their mouths and necks. This helps them find out where their mates have been and what they have been up to. It is also a show of submission when they lick around the other dog’s face and mouth.
I know it doesn’t look like a submissive behavior when a 20 KG bull terrier is launches himself towards your face with his tongue protruding, ready to give you a doggie facial, but to a dog, our mouths are inconveniently high! It is quite instinctual to want to show your ‘dominant’ pack members how much like a puppy you are and how you would love it if they just regurgitated a little food for you!
Now, this does not mean I am advocating letting your dog face mop you whenever you come home. What I am saying is jumping, licking faces, and greeting people as they enter the ‘den’ is quite natural for dogs, so it doesn’t make any sense to punish the behavior. That would be like punishing a western businessmen for offering to shake hands with a Japanese businessmen.
The Jumping behavior is, however inappropriate behavior for greeting human pack members. Therefore your dog must be taught the correct way to greet humans, just as the western man must be taught to bow properly to greet the Japanese man.
There are a number of things you can do, exercises or just practical routines to follow, that will give your dog instructions on how to fit in better with his family.
Make a leader’s entrance: Enter the house calmly with head up and body relaxed. Do not speak to, look at or touch your dog for at least 3 minutes or until your dog has shown you calm behavior. If your dog is getting pushy and insistent than walk forward into your dogs “space” and claim that space as your own, again without words, just using your body language and behavior to give your dog the ‘hint’. Go about your normal routine as if your dog wasn’t their.
No reward marker: Enter through the door, as your dog jumps exit and shut the door. Only enter when the dog is sitting, or backs up from the door. Alternatively- Enter completely, then when he jumps cross your arms, turn your body away by 45degrees and look at the corner of the ceiling. Continue this behavior until your dog offers a sit, or backs off. This exercise is very affective when you don’t talk to your dog at all when you enter.
For guests or children: For adult guests, instruct them on how to perform these exercises, this can help a dog generalize the new ‘sit at the door’ behavior, but be sure to practice with your dog yourself at first. You will find that some guests, children, and the elderly will not be able to help you with this practice. For these cases you should manage the situation by crating your dog with a safe toy or a chew treat before the guests enters.
Some of these will work for your dog, others may not (or may take awhile). A lot of it depends on how long the jumping habit has gone on for, how bad it has gotten, and how consistent you are with following the new routine.