If you have a dog that’s embarrassing you by jumping up all the time, that plays too rough with children or steals things off the kitchen counter – then keep reading!
In this blog we are going to cover 3 common situations dogs jump up in and give you some simple solutions to teach your dog to be well mannered.
Of course, dogs are man’s best friend, we love them to be close to us and live with us, but having an unruly pooch in the house can sometimes be stressful.
Dogs are natural athletes, energetic and enthusiastic and there are a few common situations where dogs jumping up can be problematic:
- Jumping up at visitors
- Jumping on children
- Jumping up on kitchen counters
Here are simple training solutions to teach your dog what we do want them to do in each of those three situations where they may want to jump up.
Jumping up at visitors
If your dog jumps up to greet you then remember it’s only doing a natural dog behaviour. Face to face greetings show social politeness and because we are more vertical beings than other dogs, the only way they can get closer is to jump up.
Another thing to remember is as owners, we often reinforce this behaviour. Its lovely to be greeted by our dogs when we get home and of course, who can resist petting a puppy as it jumps up at us. Its then only later on in its life, when it gets bigger and more boisterous, that we humans change the rules. We no longer want them jumping up at us.
We then may also change other rules such as its ok to jump up at us but not our guests, or not Auntie Sue who doesn’t like dogs. What is important is to understand our own socially acceptable rules and then teach our dogs accordingly.
What can we do?
For our puppies, teaching sit is one of the first things we do and the foundation to further training. Sit is what I call a ‘mutually exclusive behaviour’ which means the dog cannot do sit at the same time as the undesired behaviour. They can’t sit and jump up at the same time.
Teaching a mutually exclusive behaviour is an excellent way to teach the dog what we do want. Instead of our guests being bowled over as they come in the front door, politely sitting to be petted by a visitor is exactly what we want.
You can help to reinforce the sit and make it such a great thing for your dog that they will start to do an ‘auto sit’. Basically, they will learn that to get what they want they sit. Sit to get attention. Sit to get food. Sit to say hello. Sit to play. Sit for a game of fetch.
Teach your dog, sit to say please.
To make training with guests fun and even easier, place an airtight jar of treats outside your front door. Tell all your guests to take a couple of treats before they ring the doorbell and practice the sit with your dog as they come in.
Jumping up at children
Most pet dog puppies and children are active, fact. Children are attracted to puppies and puppies are attracted to children which can often lead to a very exited and out of control stampede of little tearaways through the house. As responsible adults, we should ensure children are always supervised when with our puppy or dog.
With all this excitement, it is inevitable that puppies will playfully leap up at children which can sometimes lead to small injuries caused by their claws and sharp baby teeth. Some children will be put off by this and it will damage the relationship they have together.
So here is the solution, let’s put both the ‘go crazy’ behaviour and ‘calm’ behaviour on cue!
Step 1 ‘Go crazy!’
Give the children a few dog biscuits or treats to hold and on your signal of ‘go crazy!’ get them to run around in their normal exited way. Be careful not to frighten the puppy and make sure they are happy to join in the fun running after the children.
Step 2 ‘Calm!’
After around 5 seconds of this, say your next cue ‘calm!’ and get the children to stand completely still wherever they are and cross their arms on their chest with their fists against their collarbones. Remember the dog biscuits will be attractive to the pup so keep them up by the collar bones. If the pup is near them, they should say ‘sit’ (as long as you have already pre-trained this). As soon as the pup sits, the child can give them the biscuit.
After many repetitions, you will no longer need to say ‘sit’ as the dog will sit automatically as soon as the child stops what they are doing and crosses their arms. This teaches children what to do if the pup is getting too exited or jumping up and also teaches the pup that arms crossed means sit and be calm.
Jumping up on kitchen counters
Depending on the size of your dog, counter surfing can be a real problem. Has your dog ever stolen some food off the table?
So why do dogs counter surf? Most of the time it’s because they have smelt something interesting, they want a closer look and it’s a perfectly natural behaviour. Therefore, it’s important to never punish your dog for doing this.
There are some other things you may want to consider such as:
- Are they bored?
- Do they do it to get attention (getting chased by mum when they have something in their mouth they shouldn’t is fun)?
- Are they anxious and taking things they consider ‘resources’?
- Are they hungry?
How do you prevent jumping up at the kitchen counters?
Most importantly, take responsibility. You may ask – Wait, what!? Me?
Yes, that’s right, you as the dog owner must make sure there is nothing too tempting within reach for your dog to grab. Remove the opportunity. If there was a juicy chicken breast or roll of kitchen towel on the edge of the counter, well, that’s just too tempting to resist.
The first thing to do is make sure nothing is within reach of your dog and ideally leave nothing that smells good to a dog out on the counters, even if they aren’t within reach. Even doing a wonderful meerkat impression and checking out what’s on the counter visually is absolutely reinforcing the fact that there are potentially things on there to check out.
Leave your kitchen counters as basic as possible and clear of everything that could be put away.
It’s so important that every time your dog checks the counter that there is nothing worth it for them. They will slowly loose interest and stop checking.
However, one small ‘win’ for them and one tasty morsel of butter or grabbing the tea towel for an entertaining game of chase can set your training back. Dogs don’t forget and this will mean they will keep checking the counters even more frequently again ‘just in case’ there is something worth it for them.
In this way, you can not only keep an eye on what your dog is up to but also reward them for being good. Make sure you place your camera in an area you do want your dog to be and you can remotely give them a treat when they are on the floor being well behaved. This will add value to the dog being on the floor and therefore you are reinforcing the right behaviours.
Dogs jump up because in the dog world, being directly face to face is how they greet each other and jumping up onto things makes resources more accessible and within reach.
Get your guests involved in your dogs polite greeting training. Saying sit gets them a fuss!
Children and dogs can be quite a chaotic mix and must always be supervised. Teach a fun game of ‘Go crazy!’ and ‘Calm!’ which is exiting for both children and dogs whilst teaching everyone how to communicate properly with each other and reinforce good behaviour.
You can’t always be there to watch if your dog counter surfs so by using a remotely operated treat dispensing pet camera, you can reward your dog for not jumping up even when your back is turned!
What does your dog jump up on? Let his know so we can help!
We always love feedback from our readers so please put in the comment below any questions you have on todays topic and also any ideas you have for us to write about in our blogs. We would love to help you and hear about what your amazing dogs have been up to!
Adelaide Stewart-Jones BSc (Hons) IMDT
Dog Behaviourist and Accredited Trainer
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