So you have a dog that jumps, and you’re sick of pushing them off or apologizing to guests. This can be a frustrating and embarrassing behavior, what exactly can you do to curb it? There are several fixes for a jumping dog, though as with all dog training, you’ll need patience and consistency.
There are two major causes for dogs that jump up: stress and excitement. It’s important to ascertain which is causing your problem, because the solutions are slightly different. Stress jumping is often more of a raking jump. It feels like the dog is trying to drag you to its level. It is also likely stress jumping if the dog is not easily excitable in other regards. If your normally calm dog cannot stop jumping when guests come over, they are probably not excited to see the guest, but rather a little upset about it.
So if you’ve figured out that you may be dealing with anxiety induced jumping you’ll want to consider exactly what is stressing them out. Even if you are in between the two causes, it is best to start with the solution for stress jumping. Once you figure out your triggers, cut them out completely and then slowly reintroduce them. For example, the most common triggers are associated with having a guest over. In this instance you would start having guests over that walk immediately past the dog and ignore them for the visit. Cutting out eye contact, petting, doorbell ringing and knocking will make the experience a lot more relaxed for your dog. Slowly reintroduce each of these, though keep in mind that some dogs are never going to be okay being petted by stranger. Having the guest enter with treats and ask for commands expedites this process exponentially.
It is especially important with excitement jumping that you remember the dog likely just wants attention or thinks that it is an appropriate greeting. The easiest fix is to completely take the attention away. The fastest way to do that is to turn completely from the dog, sometimes it is necessary to leave the room. Your timing is essential. You have to turn away as soon as your dog’s feet leave the ground, before or after and they won’t understand the correlation. Remember that you are teaching them. It takes several times for them to understand the concept and then several more to test that you will be consistent.
Keeping your guests consistent with your training is terribly difficult. The solution is to teach a reliable command like “watch” or “go lay down” so that you can control the interaction when you see your guest going off the books. Often it’s easiest to let the dog greet for a second and then ask for the command. It takes a lot of practice to be able to hold these commands as soon as a guest walks in, and you don’t want to ask for something the dog isn’t able to listen to yet.
If you are still struggling, don’t be afraid to contact your local trainer. Ask them what their solutions would be, and tell them what you’ve already tried. Punishment techniques, especially during a greeting, can result in bites. A good trainer should have plenty of positive solutions to try!