Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why Your Dog Jumps on People and How to Stop It

By William Mac

Well, that's how I feel when dogs jump on me..

When I got my Border Collie mix Sam from the local Humane Society, he had very few problems, which is a godsend for a rescued dog. In fact, when I inquired about Sam through a phone call, the people at the Humane Society said he was basically the perfect dog. They informed me that the only problem he had was jumping up on people. I thought, "that will be easy to solve".

When I brought Sam home he really was well behaved. He didn't chew on things, he didn't pee in the house and he didn't bark very much. However, every chance he got he would jump up on me. When I invited guests over, he would jump up on them.

Since Sam is a fairly big dog weighing in at around 80 pounds, it scared my friends when he jumped on them. Even though I thought it would be an easy problem to fix, I was wrong. The reason why I was wrong is because I had no idea why my dog was jumping up on people in the first place, and that's the primary problem. In order to stop unwanted behavior in your dog, you first have to find out WHY your dog is exhibiting such behavior.

The following are a few reasons why dogs jump on people and the solutions to those problems:

1) DOMINANCE: When a dog wants to be dominant it will attempt to claim things, this means people, furniture, toys, areas of the house and so on. Jumping on people sometimes means your dog wants to "claim" that person as its own, it wants to raise its status in life and wants everyone around to know that it's the pack leader. But, you can never let your dog be the leader - you're the dominant one, not your dog - you are the pack leader.


A dog that wants to be dominant is much harder to train not to jump up on people and can sometimes become aggressive towards you as the owner when you try to correct that training. In order to stop dog jumping when it comes to a dominant dog is, not so much correct the behavior, but let your dog know that YOU are the alpha dog and to make your dog submissive to you and your commands. Here are a few ways to start exercising your dominance:

- Never allow your dog to walk through a door or narrow passage way before you do

- Never allow your dog to walk in front of you on a leash, only beside you or behind you.

- Teach your dog simple commands like sit and stay by using "positive reinforcement", which means you reward your dog with a treat, affection or praise when it does what you want

- Practice a domination ritual three times a week for four weeks. For example, Jack and Wendy Volhard, authors of several award-winning dog-training books, instruct owners to do the following.

o Sit on the floor beside your dog without saying anything

o Place your dog in the "down" position

o If your dog gets up, put him back without saying anything

o Keep your hands off when your dog is down, and only put your hands on your dog when it tries to get back up again

o Stay still

o Practice for 30 minutes three times a week for four weeks until you can make your dog go in the "down" position from across the room.

This "domination ritual" will solidify you as your dog's pack leader and let your dog know that you're the boss. That way, instead of jumping up on you or other people, your dog will know "No" when it hears the word.

2) GREETING: Dogs will greet each other by smelling scent glands around the face, when it comes to people, the only way for your dog to get to know them is by jumping up! However, this is still unwanted behavior.


The way I solved this problem with my large dog Sam is by placing a spray bottle filled with water by the front door. Not all dogs have a problem with being sprayed with water, but most of them find it unpleasant like my dog Sam does. So, I instructed guests to immediately pick up the spray bottle when they walked in the house. As soon as my dog began to jump up on them I told them to spray him with water. After a few times Sam stopped jumping up on my guests or me.

If your dog does not respond to being sprayed with water (like Golden Retrievers or other water-loving breeds) then you may try using a shock collar. Just fit your dog with the shock collar and, with the remote in hand, have some friends or neighbors come over and knock on the door and come in. As soon as you see your dog beginning to think about jumping, press the button and shock your dog. This is a quick way for your dog to learn that it's not allowed to jump on people.

3) THE BEHAVIOR IS REWARDED: When you come home from work and your dog jumps up to greet you, you greet your dog back with hugs, kisses and vocal praise. When your dog jumps up on the couch next to you, you cuddle with it. However, when people come over to your house to visit, you wonder why your dog jumps on them.


Stop rewarding unwanted behavior - it's that simple. If you don't want your dog to jump up on you all the time or on other people or even on your furniture, then you need to be consistent.

Your dog does what benefits him/her. If your dog finds out that jumping up on people gets it attention and praise, then your dog thinks it's OK to jump all of the time.

The only way to correct this behavior is to make your dog do something in order to deserve praise or the privilege to jump on you. For example:

- When you get home from work and your dog jumps up to greet you, turn around and ignore it. Or, do as I did, and spray your dog with water or use a shock.

- Once your dog has calmed down, then you can give your dog affection and invite your dog to jump up on you. However, when you're finished, go back to ignoring your dog. This shows your dog that, only when you give him attention is your dog allowed to pay attention to you. Also, you need to inform neighbors, family members and friends that come over to never give the dog attention when it jumps on them. Tell guests to completely ignore the dog or spray it with water when walking in. Only when the dog has understood its place can you or your guests give affection.

- When you sit on the couch, don't allow your dog to just jump right up. Instead, make your dog sit and stay for a few moments before jumping up on the couch. Only when you say it's OK for the dog to join you can the dog actually jump on the couch.

Again, the only way to solve unwanted behavior in your dog is consistency and discipline. Don't reward unwanted behavior. Establish your dominance. Only when the dog is in a calm, reserved state of mind are you allowed to give it affection.

Your dog is obsessed with self-interest. It only does what it gets rewarded for and what it gets fed for. A dog will understand cause and effect. So, when you discipline your dog for unwanted behavior, you're basically saying that the behavior warrants an unwanted affect and stopping that behavior equals a reward.

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