What is cute behavior when your puppy is little, can be a whole different matter when they are a big adult. Your dog’s natural instinct when they are excited to see you, is to jump up in the air to greet you and show you their excitement and love and is actually very common. A dog that gets over excited and jumps on people when greeting them however, can be a problem when new people meet them, especially those a little more timid around pets in general. As common as this is, it is often one of the hardest habits to break with training, so it’s a good idea to start training young. However, if that ship has already sailed, you can still glean some helpful tips for helping your pup learn to greet politely. Let’s get started!
DON’T: Accidentally Reinforce Bad Behavior
The first instinct many people have when their dog jumps up is blocking him with their hands and yelling NO! If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely noticed that this isn’t an effective approach to stop the jumping. In fact, because most puppies are looking for attention when they jump (they’re excited to see you, after all!) you might actually be reinforcing the behavior by reacting.
Try this instead: Ignore your puppy. No talking, no touching, no eye contact when you come in the door until all four paws are on the floor. If when you begin to greet her she’s back up on her hind legs, rinse and repeat. She will get the idea if you’re consistent.
You may want to make this avoidance a longer term habit as well. Many dog owners find that greeting their dog goes better if they wait for a minute or two after they walk in the door. Diffuse that initial excitement a bit and you’ll have an easier time keeping your pup’s paws on the ground.
DO: Give Your Puppy Alternatives Ideas
Counter-commands are a great training tool for those puppies who take better to doing rather than not doing. Hint: This is most puppies!
This is how it works. When your puppy is inclined to jump, give him a command for a behavior that is incompatible with jumping. Most will be too excited to lay down, but you can try sit or, for the really active ones, “go find a toy.” Of course, this requires teaching the command to your pup first! You’ll find that distracting your puppy with a counter-command and then rewarding her for listening will be much more effective than simply yelling, “No jumping!”
DON’T: Forget to Reward Good Behavior!
Positive reinforcement is key here. If your dog knows that she won’t get any attention when she jumps but she will get a treat when she obeys, it won’t take long for her behavior to change.
A reward can be as simple as praise and petting or as motivating as a little treat. For a treat that’s small enough to give over and over again but delicious enough to keep your pup interested, try Canidae Grain Free PURE Turkey & Apple Soft Dog Treats. With only three calories each and made with simple, natural ingredients, they’re the perfect healthy training treats!
Pro Tip: In the colder months we usually stash a handful of treats in a jacket pocket (use a plastic baggie for crunchier treats). That way we can reward good behavior as soon as possible when we walk through the door.
DO: Prepare for Different Situations
Sure, your puppy knows he shouldn’t jump on you, but what about guests? It’s difficult to explain to everyone who walks through your door that they shouldn’t touch your dog – while he’s already jumping up on them! At that point, the attention is given, the behavior is reinforced and the damage done.
Instead, try practicing the same principles that you used for yourself with a willing friend. Have your friend enter the door and ignore your pup until he realizes the result is the same, no matter who walks in the door.
When he’s still in training, it’s a good idea to have your dog tethered if you know a guest will be coming through the door. Only allow the guest to approach your puppy when he’s calm. This will avoid letting your puppy rehearse negative behavior before the principle of not jumping is strong enough in his mind. This is also especially good with those guests that are more unfamiliar with pets or perhaps not as comfortable around them as we are.
DO: Be Patient!
Every puppy learns at their own pace depending on breed, age, how strong the habit is and how consistent you are. Don’t get frustrated or give up on your furry friend – he’s bound to come along eventually with time! If things really aren’t progressing or his behavior has become dangerous to others, you can always contact a positive reinforcement trainer or behaviorist.