How to Stop my Dog from Jumping on People

Do you come home after being out for a while to find your dog jumping all over you?  When you have guests come over is your dog the first one to greet them at the door with a welcoming display of annoying jumps?  This is undoubtedly one of the most common behavioral issues we train in our Miami and Los Angeles Dog Training sessions.

To address this behavior you must understand the fundamentals of what is going on.  Dogs primarily do things because they enjoy the activity (self-reinforcing behavior) such as barking or jumping, it is innate or because it was learned.   When someone is talking about a learned behavior what they are really saying is that the dog was reinforced (consciously or unconsciously) for doing a specific behavior and therefore your pup keeps on doing it.

Steps to Stop My Dog from Jumping

First, you have to analyze your living situation and your dog’s life and ask yourself these questions:  Is your dog trained at all?  What is the average day like for your pooch?  Are you out of the house for many hours a day?  Are you very busy and don’t have that much time to spend with your pup?  Remember, dogs are social beings.  They thrive and crave on social interaction and typically are gregarious by nature if socialized correctly.  Dogs want to be included in every aspect of your family’s life.

To maintain a dog’s health, excitability, and energy level the dog needs to be physically and mentally exercised every day, similar to a human.  If you stayed at home and didn’t get outside much or failed to get sufficient exercise and you didn’t do anything all day but walked around the house your brain would turn to mush, and you would be jumping off the wall as well.  All dogs need to learn basic manners and obedience training.  They don’t have to be a service dog or agility trained to learn that jumping is inappropriate, and even knowing just the fundamentals will stop this behavior.

Negative Punishment

This is the operant conditioning term for removing something that the dog wants (your attention) thereby reducing the likelihood that the behavior will occur again (jumping).  By ignoring the inappropriate behavior (jumping) and following up with rewarding a behavior that is appropriate (such as sitting or standing on all four paws) will stop the unwanted behavior and encourage the preferred behavior.  This is often easier said than done.  The trick is to figure out what you are doing to reward your dog and to stop rewarding him/her and replace your dog’s inappropriate behavior with a preferred behavior and reward that one instead.

This is just as much a management/pet parent issue as it is a dog behavior issue.  The quantity variable is important here.  It becomes incrementally more difficult the more people that are in the household involved with the behavior modification program and interacting with your dog.  This is another reason why it is so critical that everyone in your household is present when training and behavior modification is taking place. If one family member or friend comes over to your home and is not practicing these instructions, the dog will be receiving a variable schedule of reinforcement for a behavior you do not want.  A variable reinforcement schedule is a very powerful motivator and reinforcement technique to encourage continuing a behavior, similar to why humans gamble on slot machines in Vegas (which is not what we want).  To extinct this behavior, complete compliance by everyone in the household and all visitors are mandatory.

Responsibility of the Pet Parent

You are the pet parent/s, and that entails responsibility.  It is your responsibility to tell your friends, family, neighbors, mailman, or anyone who comes into contact with your dog that you are training him/her and to please not interact with your pup or look at him/her if all four paws are not on the ground.  Ignoring the behavior if your dog jumps and praising the dog when all four paws are on the ground or better yet when your dog is sitting.

Of course, all of this will be easier for you with practice, if your dog knows basic manners, the rules of the house, what you want from him/her, basic obedience training and learning through force-free, positive reinforcement dog training.  Remember, kicking, kneeing, hitting, yelling, screaming, getting angry, and frustrated …etc will only reinforce the behavior not eliminate it.  Attention is attention, both good and bad.

Think of dog training as you would a sport where you are the athlete and your timing, delivery, technique, body language, attention, treats, and rewards are critical to the outcome of the training regimen and behavior modification program.  If the problem is severe and heavily ingrained it would be best to call Fun Paw Care and make an appointment rather then get upset at your loving pet.  Remember never hit, abuse or hurt your dog.  If you are not getting the desired outcome you wish, it is you who is making the mistake, not your dog.


Dog Training Miami