How To Teach Your Puppy Not To Jump

Already your puppy has probably jumped at some stage to greet you or a friend/stranger since you have brought them home. Yes, they are cute and adorable now but a full grown dog jumping up is a lot less tolerated and adorable when they are clawing all over you. They don't get the puppy pass anymore. Even though you might not care about the jumping or your friend, do you want your puppy to interact with people not he street? If the answer is yes, then I can guarantee that you are bound to come across someone who does not like it or might even go as far as to say that your dog is actually aggressive. 

This is where it is up to you to teach your puppy what is appropriate manners from the get go rather than waiting for it to become a big problem. It is a lot easier to prevent unwanted behaviour in the first place rather than trying to fix it once it is ingrained. Remember your puppy is always learning and they will remember their actions and form habits based on history. 

Puppies jump for many reasons, but majority of the time it is to get attention or to try and communicate with you. Humans express ourselves through our face and hands. Now I want you to look at how little your puppy is compared to how tall you are. There is a huge gap between your puppy and where your face is. Humans are a long way up, so it is natural for your puppy to jump up to try to reach you as humans are terrible at getting down to our puppies levels at times when they jump e.g. you don't walk in the door and sit on the floor straight away. Because we don't, puppies still have this need to communicate with us and seek affection and attention so they take matters into their own hands and jump up to greet us instead. 

We also accidentally, inadvertently reinforce this jumping behaviour all the time without even realising it. Whether that be you pat them adhocly, or a stranger does because they go "Oh it's okay, I love dog's", you give them eye contact, you simply touch them or push them down, or you might even go ‘uh uh, no, get down’. Now even though you are upset with them and they are in trouble, do you think that’s high enough in punishment to prevent it happening again? No! Instead, what have you just done is GIVEN THEM THE ATTENTION THEY WANTED and shot yourself in the foot. 

To teach your puppy not to jump you need to take a two-tiered approach of prevention and training and apply them simultaneously. If you do not prevent the jumping during the training journey, you'll simple cancel out all of your hard training efforts. Proactive training is the best type of training. 

 

First Tier - Prevention: While you are establishing the desired behaviour, it’s important not to let your puppy practice the jumping.

As we have talked about before, your puppy is always learning and those positive and negative piggy banks are always filling up from different experiences, whether we like it or not. This is where we have to get smart. What we focus on is not what happens during or after a jump, but what we do in the time leading up to a jump. Prevention is key. Once your dog has jumped - it’s too late. So, for example: You know your dog likes to jump up when someone enters the house - so let’s set them up to succeed by putting them on lead - don’t let them get within jumping distance of the person and heavily reward them for showing any desirable behaviours such as looking at the person and not reacting or sitting down. Don’t be shy to use tools to your advantage. E.g. leads, baby gate/barriers, play pens, enrichments or even putting them in a different room until they calm down.

Second Tier - Training: This is where you implement techniques and game to teach your puppy that there is no value in jumping. For these techniques and games to be successful you have to spend the time training your puppy. Eventually as your puppy learns the premise of these foundations, jumping will just fade into the background, and your puppy will not have the expectation to jump in the first place. The activity which we teach you, must be taught prior to the situation happening. It is too late to train in the moment and it is unfair to expect them to have the skills that they have not been taught. You must invest in the time to teach your puppy what you expect from them. Remember, your puppy is in the teaching phase and you need to spend some time building up history of the game before you can attempt to proof it in real life situations. So when we look at this game we are looking at the pre-tense not the present or past-tense

 

 

How to teach the Say Hello Game.

  • Step 1: Throw a treat away, to send the dog away from you (at least 2metres). Your puppy is going to then naturally turn to find you when they’ve consumed the treat. 
     

  • Step 2: As they’re coming back in to you, with a treat in your hand, stretch your arm out and down to a position in front of your dogs nose, where you’d like your dog to learn to stop naturally. We are going to call this distance between you and your puppy, ‘the jump zone’. We are also going to pair this approach with the phrase “say hello”. So as they are walking in to your hand, make sure you say your phrase.
     

  • Step 3: Hold that treat in your hand as a lure, and the moment your dog stops shuffling and stands still, (or if they give you something like a sit or drop - but don’t encourage this initially), bridge the behaviour with your ‘yes’ and release that treat to them. Straight away, I want you to follow through with a few more treats, so they stay in that position and don’t break it immediately. A high rate of reinforcement in this position will help your puppy understand that there is value in them holding this position. This step is about teaching the approach. As you practice this together, you should start to see some hesitation at the start of your jump zone, which is an indicator that you can slowly fade out that hand. Essentially, your hand is just a temporary barrier and marker for your dog to stop at while they learn the jump zone.
     

  • Step 4: Send your puppy away again and repeat, but this time, you’re going to wait for them to sit. If after 5 seconds, they haven’t given you a sit, it’s OK to lure them into one, while we are establishing the behaviour. Bridge the sit with your “YES” and release the treat. The more you practice this, your dog will start to expect that they have to come in and sit down to be rewarded, without your prompting them.
     

  • Step 5: Once your puppy sits at the jump zone without being cued, we are going to increase our expectations to include the puppy giving the human eye contact. If after 5 seconds, they haven’t offered you eye contact, continue to stand still and make an enticing noise (a kissing sound or puppy is enough, without being too distracting or exciting). Bridge the eye contact with your “YES” and release the treat.
     

  • Step 6: After you have cued your puppy to ‘say hello’ and while they are still in a sitting position, you can start to increase the criterion by adding a bow (you, not your dog). This is to replicate the way people tend to greet dogs. Start with a head nod and gradually, over multiple position changes, increase to a full bow with your face close to your dog’s head. This would be broken down into multiple sessions, where you go at your dog’s pace. Remember, your dog jumps because they want to greet your face, so bending and getting closer to them is going to make it harder for them to hold that position without jumping instinctively. Bridge the moment you reach the position you are wanting to achieve at that moment (quarter bow, half bow, full bow etc), so long as your dog is still holding their sit position. Return your body to normal posture and give them the treat.

  • Step 7: After you have cued your puppy to ‘say hello’ and while they are still in a sitting position, you can start to work on handling. Start calm with gentle pats in places they enjoy, preferably starting in the chin and neck areas before working your way up the side and to the top of their head. 
     

  • Step 8: Send your puppy away and as they are moving back to you, add your ‘say hello’ cue, but now add some upper body movements such as waving hands (jazz hands), outstretched arms, covering mouth excitedly etc. Think of behaviours people will do when they see your very cute puppy. To begin with, start with low intensity movements (think slow jazz hands, not full speed jazz hands), before working up to faster or larger movements that will happen in real life. If your dog struggles at any point, reduce the intensity of your movements.
     

  • Step 9: Send your puppy away and as they are moving back to you, add your ‘say hello’ cue, but now add some greeting excitable noises. The higher the intensity and the longer the duration, the harder it will be so start calmer and less exciting. Think ‘oh hi’ vs OH MY GOODNESS YOU’RE SO CUTE, I LOVE YOU!!’
     

  • Step 10: Send your puppy away and as they are moving back to you, add your ‘say hello’ cue, but now add in all of the cues together. Start at their lowest intensity and increase into something that resembles a realistic, normal greeting from a stranger who loves dogs.

Sneaky game to play around the house: In times where your puppy is more likely to jump like when you are opening a door, you must not advance until your puppy is in a sit position. Bridge and reward them whilst they are in the correct position (don’t worry they will be able to hear you through the door) and put the treats on the ground (the value comes from down low). Increase criteria to be able to open the door fully and walk outside without your puppy moving from the sit position before you bridge and reward. Break it down into little achievable steps to get to that end result.

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How can we blame our puppies for jumping when humans communicate mainly via our faces and show our emotions through it which is all the way up high and they are all the way down low, a place where we rarely focus our attention on. Jumping is your puppy’s way of trying to get your attention and to remind you that they are down there. Puppies love being a part of the action and find it hard when they are being ignored hence jumping to get in your face to get your attention whether good or bad. Puppies also tend to jump when they are excited, such as when meeting new people or when you first come home. It is important to remember that your puppy is seeking your attention when jumping so it is up to you to teach your puppy that they can have your attention but to get it they have to stay on the ground - shifting where the value lies. It is paramount that you always acknowledge and recognise when your puppy they are doing the correct behaviour. The more you can capture your puppy doing the correct job from the beginning, the less it will feel like it needs to show the undesirable behaviour. E.g. try and acknowledge and reward your puppy for staying on the ground before it even has the chance to jump, so have treats ready in your hand and as soon as you walk in the door after being out stick them in front of your dogs and change their attention on them instead. 

  • Ignore the jumping (no eye contact, no touch, no acknowledgement, no “ah ah’s” or “no’s”), redirect your puppy’s attention back onto the ground or wait for your puppy to get down by themselves and reinforce your puppy as soon as they are doing what you want. 

  • When you return home or if they are very excited, ignore them for the first 5-10mins or until they show the first calm behaviour. 

  • Cement the sit behaviour and use a sit as a “please” or a default action that gets your puppy attention. 

  • Drop treats on the ground so you are redirecting the attention from you to the ground.

  • Beat your puppy to jumping by crouching down. If they jump on you whilst crouched down, stand up and wait for them to calm down again. 

  • Focus on the good and not the bad. Meaning make sure you give your puppy lots of attention as that is what they want when they have all their paws touching the ground and you completely ignore them when jumping.