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You didn't think your calm puppy would grow up to be a jumper, but here you are with a dog jumping on people and furniture alike. Rest assured — you can learn how to train a dog not to jump.
Why Dogs Jump on People
Is your dog jumping on people? Know that there are a variety of reasons that dogs do this. The two most common reasons are that they're excited, or they're trying to take control of a situation. If your dog jumps on you when you come home from work, it's likely because they're thrilled to see you after being without you all day. Dogs who jump on guests, on the other hand, might be showing a mixture of excitement and dominance. Think of it as your pet saying, "I'm the dog in charge here!"
How high can a dog jump? The answer depends on a combination of factors, including the dog's breed, size, health, age and conditioning. Some breeds are known to jump higher than 6 feet (1.83 m), and according to the American Kennel Club, most dogs can jump "several times their own height." The AKC does, however, suggest that young puppies shouldn't jump at extreme heights until they're at least 12 to 15 months old.
The breeds best suited for agility sports, which include jumping, are Australian shepherds, border collies, German shepherds, papillons and whippets. However, this doesn't mean your Chihuahua or Rhodesian ridgeback won't bounce to an impressive height. Your dog might surprise you with their ability to leap into the air.
You may find that as your dog gets older, they'll naturally jump less often or not as high as their weight increases and/or their strength decreases.
How to Train a Dog Not to Jump on People
Are you wondering how to train a dog not to jump? Luckily, there are many methods for teaching your pet to keep all four paws on the ground.
To identify what type of training you dog needs, you'll first need to consider the context in which your dog jumps. Are they jumping on the couch or other furniture, or on guests who come to your home? Are they trying to hurdle the fence in your yard? Once you determine exactly what you want to stop, you can put methods in place to curb the habit. It's easier to train your dog to do something rather than not to do something.
For example, if your dog jumps on people:
- Start by training your dog to sit, lay and stay, and then reward your dog with treats when they're following your orders and staying calmly.
- Regularly practice this positive reinforcement so that your dog will get the attention they're seeking in a positive manner.
- If your dog does jump, turn your body away from them to discourage the behavior. By showing any attention to the jumping, you're reinforcing the behavior.
- Avoid yelling if your dog jumps up, as this may reinforce the behavior.
- Consider leashing your dog; confining them to a different area of the home, either behind a door or a baby gate or crating them when people will be coming over.
- As your dog progresses with their training, invite a friend or family member over. Have them ring the doorbell as you make your dog sit and wait. When you open the door, have them continue to wait as you let your guest inside. Then, reward your dog for their good behavior. With continued training, your pet will begin to understand that jumping on people won't be allowed.
To manage jumping on furniture or other belongings, you'll want to follow similar training methods, and remove anything your pet may be jumping for. For example, if you have treats on the table, and your pet is jumping toward the treat jar, consider hiding the container in a closet while you work on the behavior. The dog gates mentioned above can help keep your pet in one area of the home so that they aren't jumping on the bed while you're downstairs doing the dishes or cleaning up around the house.
Remember, jumping is a behavior that can change with some training. If you're having trouble, consider working with a behavior specialist. Some dog trainers are willing to come to your home and train your pet on their own turf. Otherwise, your pup can join a class with other dogs and get the added benefit of socialization.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.