Your dog jumping up on people is a sure-fire way to tell that they are the pack leader. If your dog jumps on you, guests to your house or just people on the street they are showing that they are in charge. Asserting their dominance by jumping up is very common for dogs, but what can you do about it?
Why Is My Dog Jumping?
As dog owners we often come home to jumpy, barking dogs who seem to be very happy to see us. They run around and bounce off the walls because we are home. Our natural reaction to this is that they are happy to see us, but are they?
Your dog is typically doing this not out of sheer joy to see you, but often excess energy and that they want to show you who is boss. Jumping can also be associated with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, which means that they are certainly not happy and are more nervous or frustrated.
A dog with excess energy or anxiety will often show this through their body, much like a human who paces or fidgets. Responding to jumping with affection and praise will send mixed signals to your dog and can make them constantly anxious.
Affection is a reward to dogs and it doesn’t matter what state of mind the dog is in. If we give dogs affection for bad things or when they are feeling anxious they will do that bad thing again to get more affection.
Giving affection to a frightened dog teaches them to be frightened and giving it to an excited dog will teach them to be excited. This carries on for anything from aggressive behaviour to jumping up on people, so remember that misbehaviour plus a reward will teach the dog to misbehave.
Why Jumping Is A Bad Thing
We’ve already told you that a jumping dog is really a misbehaving dog, even if you think they are happy to see you. It is also reinforcing bad habits and can be a sign of mental problems with your dog, but what are reasons make jumping bad.
Take a German Shepherd puppy for example. When the Shepherd puppy is young and small it seems very cute when they jump up at you, but a 50kg fully grown Shepherd can knock you over and be potentially dangerous. Your dog jumping will not only effect you, but also guests coming to your house and even people when you go to the dog park or beach. Getting your dog to stop jumping up at people is an important part of being a responsible dog owner.
So How Can I Stop My Dog From Jumping Up At People?
Now that we have explained the reasons why your dog jumps up at people and why it is a bad thing, now it is time to tell you how to stop it from happening.
Be The Pack Leader
Dogs are pack animals and without a clear pack leader they will try to fill that role. This can be disastrous for you as the owner and will lead to bad behaviour like jumping up at people. It is important that you show that you are in charge and you do that by projecting a calm-assertive energy.
Know When To Give Affection
Showering your dog with attention as soon as you walk in the door can be a critical mistake when dealing with a jumping or overly excited dog. Remember that dogs are not humans and the nicest thing you can do to them is treat them like a dog. Giving a human child attention as soon as you walk through the door can be wonderful, however dogs are different.
We want our dog to be calm and submissive, because that is when they are most receptive to our commands. Rewarding a dog when they are excited will teach them to be excited, so we want to avoid that. The only time you should be rewarding your dog with affection is when they are in a calm and submissive state.
Another thing to remember is that if you reward a dog when they are not in a calm submissive state, they see us as not calm and submissive. A dog that sees their owner as overly excited will typically not follow their commands. This is the quickest way to produce an excited and unruly dog that will try to be the pack leader.
While we are saying that you need to control your dog’s excitement, there is a time and a place to encourage it. Rather than rewarding your dog with excited affection when you come home, you should be rewarding them when you are doing things like playing fetch with them in the park or doing agility training. Your dog’s excitement is there, but you are rewarding it for doing a job for you, with an end goal of using up all of that energy.
Think Like Your Dog’s Mum
A tip to controlling the sort of excited behaviour that causes jumping is to think like your dog’s mum. Your dog’s mum is the ultimate pack leader and will not tolerate any silly dominant behaviour from her pups. If she notices an action she doesn’t like from her dogs, she will stop it by moving the puppy away in a calm and assertive manner. From this the puppy learns that there are boundaries they cannot cross and solidifies them as below their mum in the pack. You need to do this when dealing with your dog!
Be The Pack Leader At All Times
It’s no use just being the pack leader sometimes, you need to be the leader at all times. An inconsistent owner will cause confusion and anxiety in their dog. Remember that animal pack leaders are the leader at all times and so should you be!
Tell Your Dog To Sit
When you or guests come into the house tell your dog to sit. You can even do this if your dog has a jumping problem when you take it out for walks and they want to jump over passers-by. When your dog respects you they will follow your command and remember they must follow your order.
Start Them Young
Remember that it is easier to prevent a problem than curing one. You can avert dog jumping when they are just a puppy. Puppy jumping is incredibly common, however you can stop this by using the no talk, no touch, no eye contact rule when you greet your puppy. Stopping your puppy from jumping early will make it a whole lot easier than trying to do it when they are older.