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Training Tips: Jumping on People

Why do dogs jump up on people? It’s a greeting! Dogs like to greet with their noses. And jumping usually gets attention, which is exciting for your dog even if the attention is negative.

Training your dog not to jump on people takes practice. Stay in control of your dog and the situation; guide him on a leash when he meets and greets people. Stay in control of the surroundings; the backyard is for running and playing, while the front yard is for greeting guests.

When a person comes to your door, put your dog on a leash. Tell your guest not to look at or interact with your dog until he sits. The instant your dog sits, give him a high-value treat. Your guest can give him a treat, too! A quiet pet also helps reinforce the good behavior.

You can also crate your dog, or keep him in the backyard, until your guest is seated in your house. Then bring your dog in on a leash and practice sitting for company. Sitting is an essential command. Only reward your dog when he sits, and when sitting is his first response.

A useful training regimen is to ring the doorbell while a family member inside the house throws treats on the floor to your door, then asks to him to sit and puts him on his leash. This will create powerful, positive associations for your dog as he learns what to do when company arrives.

What if your dog jumps up anyway, even after he sits? The key to training is to direct and reward positive behavior and never validate undesired behavior. Well-meaning pet parents often unconsciously reinforce the very behavior they’re trying to curb.

Your guests, and your family members, must ignore your dog if he jumps up; instruct people simply to turn their backs to your dog. You must not pet him, act excited, yell, squirm away, or push your dog down. All of these reactions signal “fun” and “excitement” to your dog. Only pet your pooch when he is sitting for company.

Use only the “off” command for this situation; reserve the “down” command for asking your dog to lie down. The instant your dog obeys the “off” command; tell him to sit. The instant he sits, reward and praise him.

Puppies are naturally energetic. Make sure your dog has positive outlets for all that energy: long walks, supervised play in small groups, puppy classes, and agility training are all good options.