Let’s face it, no one likes an impolite dog. And when that impolite dog is the size of a small horse, and thinks that it’s okay to jump on people, that can be a real problem.
Last Thursday, I was out for my daily constitutional, and this guy I had never met before (and his dog that I had never met before!) ended up sharing the sidewalk with me. Mr. Spock was a brindle Great Dane, and nothing like his namesake. Forget the non-emotional Vulcan thing – THIS Mr. Spock was all cuddles and kisses once I got to know him, but his first course of action was to jump on me and knock me over. Of course, Daddy Spock helped me up and apologized, but I have to say I was pretty shaken. We’re all friends now, but I would have preferred that Mr. Spock had kept his paws on the sidewalk where they belonged.
Why Do Dogs Jump?
The easiest answer to this question is that they’re very sociable, and they want to be up close and personal with you. But if you look a little deeper, there’s more to it. Think of how puppies greet adult dogs – they usually do it by trying to lick the adult’s face. Puppies also love to lick their human’s face. Of course, it’s adorable when they’re little, and your natural reaction is likely to be something along the lines of, “Aw, he wants to give me kisses!” So, what you’ve done is essentially reward the puppy, with praise and cuddles, for jumping up on you.
Training Your Dog Not to Jump
Teaching your dog to stop jumping on people is actually pretty easy. That is, as long as the “Aw, he wants to give me kisses” people don’t sabotage you. You can bet they’re going to say “I don’t mind!” and probably inadvertently undo everything you’ve been trying to do in terms of creating a “four on the floor” rule.
Now, before we go any further, let me tell you that there’s one method a lot of people use in an effort to discourage jumping that is actually very counter-productive. That is lifting your knee against the dog’s chest. Sure, it gets the dog off you, but it’s mean. And the dog is going to try to appease you. Now how do you suppose he is going to do that? That’s right, by trying to give you kisses, thereby jumping up on you again.
Now, what you want to do is start early on, so that you’re not trying to undo a habit that has already become entrenched. This method assumes that you have already taught your dog to sit.
You will need a leash, and the assistance of another person. One of you will hold the leash. Make sure the dog has plenty of room to move around, and once the person who is not at the end of the leash moves away, the one holding the leash tells the dog to sit.
With the dog’s human friend about a dozen feet away, the person holding the leash asks the dog to sit. Then, the other person approaches, and if the dog remains sitting, that’s good! The approaching person gives the dog a treat. Then, he or she turns around and begins to move away. If the dog approaches the retreating person, the one holding the leash reiterates the “sit” command. When the dog sits, the departing person comes back and offers another treat.
Usually, this will take a few tries. Remember, though, dogs are not stupid. Most dogs are going to think “This person came to me and gave me a treat when I was sitting. So, if I want good things to happen, I have to sit.”
Ba da boom, ba da bing, all done!
Actually, you’re not quite done. Your dog might still try to jump when meeting a new person who has come into your house. So here’s what you do. Before you open the door, strew a few treats on the floor. Your dog can’t clean up all those treats and still bounce a visitor, now can he? By the time the treats are all gathered up and eaten, the visitor will likely be old news, and you can use the “sit” command again once the excitement has worn off.
What About Walkies?
Okay, now, what about unstructured situations, like what happened with me and Mr. Spock? Going for walks can be a bit problematic, especially if other dog walkers are in the picture. Sometimes, you are simply going to have to get your baby away from distractions quickly and easily. Ideally, you will work on this issue in the early months, and a retractable leash can be your best friend.
So you and your dog are out for a walk, and here comes trouble in the form of another dog walker. You know that the person is going to end up being bounced, or the other dog will be greeted with a bit too much enthusiasm. The GoPets Retractable Leash gives your dog thirteen feet of movement, but if you need to get him back quickly, you can do it with just the press of a button.
You want your dog to be a good canine citizen. And he doesn’t know that jumping up on people isn’t exactly good manners. He just figures it’s a way of saying “Hi, I want to be your friend.” So, work toward “four on the floor,” and that way, your dog can greet his human friends without knocking them over.
Mr. Spock’s dad has promised that he’ll be more polite next time. I sure hope so! And until the next time you visit my blog, live long and prosper![thrive_leads id=’327′]