Thursday, March 17, 2016

My dog won't stop jumping on people! Help! (Part I)

This is a 3-part blog series. This is Part I of III.
One of the absolute biggest complaints from dog owners and questions I get as a trainer is -- How can I get my dog to stop jumping on people?!

First there isn't a single, simple or quick answer to this. This is a multi-faceted answer because there are so many factors when it comes to jumping. Pretty much most dog training doesn't have a simple and/or single answer .... but anyway ...  We must first identify the reason and/or cause of the jumping.  There are several reasons a dog may jump and once we identify this we can move forward.

The first step is to ask yourself this -- What do you want your dog to do? Before you answer that make sure the answer doesn't include "I want him to stop/not/quit jumping!" I know what you don't like I want to know what you do in fact want your dog to do when s/he sees and/or greets other people.

It would be awesome if I had a simple answer.  If only I could say "do XYZ and it will stop your dog from jumping."  However, it's not quite that simple. Yes, you could find some punishment-style "methods" that correct a dog when it jumps however this doesn't get to the root of the problem. Punishing a dog for jumping often makes the dog stop temporarily in the moment or just stops the dog from jumping on whomever is giving the corrections.  In the end this means the dog hasn't  learned not to jump just to avoid corrections or those giving corrections. Punishments rarely work and rarely teach anything to the dog, if ever.  My goal is to teach a dog a better solution to jumping and to have the dog choose not to jump and eliminate the jumping.

So there are a few things you can do to begin your process of training.  Set a goal. The very best course of action is to set a goal of Fido being relaxed and able to greet with little to no arousal and then we can set the goal of an alternate behavior to happen when people come into the home such as lying on a mat or sitting for greetings.

I find it funny because you can Google away and find many explanations for a dog that jumps. Some dogs just jump. But the most common reason, and one that applies to the majority of jumpers, is that they have been reinforced in some way and so it creates a behavior, albeit an unwanted one.

Many dogs also jump because they are in a state of over-arousal and cannot calm themselves down, they get over-aroused when a new person is there and the cycle begins. Jumping is alternately rewarded in a very unintentional way (person pushes dog, tells dog to stop/get down, etc.) and the jumping becomes even more obnoxious.  This often intertwines with the first one, meaning that this happens and then is unknowingly reinforced and the cycle continues.

I've also seen in my years of training dogs and understanding their behavior that some dogs that are very stressed and/or anxious will jump out of nervousness, almost like a small child that wants mommy to hold him when he's uneasy. This type of jumping requires a totally different protocol as it's not really a jumping issue but a confidence issue.  If you think this applies to your dog I do recommend that you find a qualified trainer to help you.  This isn't a true jumping issue as the root of it is deeper than that, therefore this will not be discussed in this blog post.  If you are unsure if this applies to your dog contact me and I'll be glad to help (take a video of your dog jumping and send it to me for a better assessment.)

Now that you might have a better understanding to why your dog jumps let's discuss how to start a protocol to get the jumping under control and a better behavior pattern for greeting people for your dog!  Head on over to Part II for this info.
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Stacy Greer of Stacy's Dog Training has trained dogs professionally in the Dallas/Ft Worth Texas metroplex for 16 years.

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