Correcting Jumping Problems In Dogs Of All Sizes
Dogs that jump up, regardless of their size, are a real problem for most people. Unfortunately, what often starts out as a cute behavior in puppies quickly turns into a major irritation, and even a significant safety issue as the puppy matures. Dogs jumping will definitely frighten people, and can potentially cause injury when they knock people over with their enthusiastic greetings.
Although problem jumping is often associated with the larger breeds, even the smallest dog causes problems when they jump up, and yet these types of behaviors in small and toy dogs are often encouraged by owners, regardless of the age of the dog. In reality, a small or toy breed that is jumping up has a much greater risk of joint and skeletal problems, such as luxating patella and even issues with spinal cord injury or paralysis in longer bodied dogs. They are also at risk for being stepped on or tripped over, especially when people are carrying objects and may not see the tiny canine at their feet.
From a dog's behaviour perspective, jumping up on something or someone is seen as an acceptable form of greeting to an equal or lesser member of the pack. It can also signal a demand for attention or just enthusiasm to see their beloved human finally at home. Subordinate dogs never jump on a dominant dog, regardless of a difference in size. Think about this for a moment: many dogs that jump up simply don't see humans as being the leaders in the family, which is another issue altogether.
Start puppies out by teaching the come command, immediately followed by the sit command. If the puppy jumps up, give a sharp "no" and turn away, ignoring the puppy until he or she is sitting. They will quickly learn that sitting and waiting is the way to get attention, as opposed to jumping to demand attention. If the puppy does manage to get his or her paws on you, immediately turn your body to allow the dog's paws to slide off your leg, effectively and subtly rejecting him or her. Do not touch the puppy, yell at him or her or make any type of eye contact during this repositioning of your body.
For mature dogs that are jumping, the same general format can be used; however it must be applied very consistently by everyone the dog comes in contact with. Watch their body language as they approach and if the dog appears prepared to jump, immediately move back or turn away from the dog, preventing any physical contact. Give the sit command, and then a lot of praise when they do the right thing. Don't have the dog wait long periods of time for your attention when this alternative behavior is being mastered. The petting and focus on the dog should initially happen immediately, and then owners can gradually expand the wait time as the dog becomes more proficient in a new and acceptable greeting.
Never use punishment such as hitting the dog, bringing a knee up into their chest or any of the other pain based corrections that have wrongly been recommended over the years. These types of corrective measures are both dangerous for the dog, as well as damaging to the bond that you have with your pet. Avoid rewarding any type of jumping behavior while teaching the correct way to greet people, and under no conditions should the dog be given any attention when they jump. Don't make exceptions to the rule, you have to firmly communicate that jumping is unacceptable at any time.
If the jumping behavior seems impossible to correct, seek the help of a professional dog trainer that uses positive training methods. As the owner, you will also have to work with the trainer, to learn how to successfully manage your dog's problem jumping behaviour.
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