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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Jumping Up On People

Pet Professional Tip

Consider using head collars in the practice instead of slip leashes to calm dogs.  Use treats to lure the dog to sit as an alternative to jumping on you.  NEVER pet, praise or greet a dog that does not have all four feet on the floor.  Squat down to the dog's level if the dog is friendly.  Use your thumb in the collar to prevent the dog from jumping forward.

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How to Prevent Dogs from Jumping on People



We all love the unconditional, enthusiastic greeting that only a dog can give - no matter how long, or little, you have been gone!  There is no other species on earth that provides this level of enthusiasm and wiggles of joy. Dog greetings are something to look forward to, regardless of the type of day we have had.

These enthusiastic greetings become unwanted when the dog jumps on us and on anyone else that enters our home or yard. Jumping on people can be a real nuisance and is common at around six months of age on up. This behavior usually persists because of inconsistencies among family members trying to deal with the issue. Therefore, it is critical that all family members agree on how jumping on people should be handled and how the dog should be trained not to jump up.

Jumping on people usually persists because family members are inconsistent in the way they respond to the dog.

Normal Canine Behavior

It is normal canine behavior to excitedly greet another individual of their pack by jumping on that individual. Other happy natural canine greeting behaviors might include a "play bow" (lowered front paws, elevated rump), barking, pawing, spinning, and any type of physical contact.

Accidental Reinforcement of Unwanted Behavior

Many people enjoy physical contact with their dogs and look forward to greeting rituals. A problem occurs when the person praises and pets the dog as the dog jumps on them (reinforcing the behavior). The dog learns to expect this rowdy social behavior in all greeting rituals with all humans.

Ironically, most people who give excited greetings are unaware that they are actually training the dog to jump on them and other people. When people pet and talk to the dog in an excited manner when the dog jumps on them, they give the dog a message and lesson that this is acceptable behavior. People and dogs are happy to see each other. However, the dog needs to learn manners to gain approval in a human world. If the dog does not learn manners, often the dog is the loser because the family begins to isolate the dog from people.

Teaching good manners and polite greetings

Teach your dog that it is good manners to sit when meeting new people and when greeting you. During the learning phase, use treats to show the dog exactly what you want and to reinforce this desirable behavior. Ask others to help you teach the dog how to greet and meet others by sitting. Guests and especially fragile senior citizens will appreciate a dog that sits politely for greetings.

The best way to teach a dog to sit for greetings is to temporarily ignore the dog and  keep greetings very low-key, when you first come home. If the dog jumps up, instead of giving praise, in a low, neutral voice say, "Off."  Then, cross your arms and turn your side toward the dog. Try to move in such a way that the jump fails to make contact. Some dogs are simply not capable of controlling themselves at first. As you go about your business, intermittently ask for a "sit."  Only greet the dog after he or she has calmed down enough to be able to sit. Then, IMMEDIATELY drop to your knees and greet the dog on their level. Put your thumb under the dog's collar to keep the dog at arm's distance to prevent the dog from jumping forward and to help teach the dog longer control.  If he or she jumps up from the sit, just turn away and try again later. The dog must learn that the only way to get what he or she wants (i.e., attention) is to sit. Do not tell the dog, "down" to stop jumping as "down" means to lie down on the ground.  Using one word to mean two things confuses the dog.

Head Halters

For owners who have difficulty gaining verbal control, a head halter and long leash can be used. Deter the jumping behavior by quickly stepping on the dog's leash, which will prevent the dog from jumping. Then immediately ask the dog to "sit" and give a reward when he or she complies. Using this technique, you are deterring the undesirable behavior (jumping) but rewarding the preferred behavior (sitting). Head Collars...Learn More

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