Puppy jumping is usually greeted with enthusiasm and affection. Then one day that same behavior is greeted with irritation or worse—all because the puppy grew up.
Never reward any dog for jumping. In fact, we want to engage them as little as possible. They jump for attention, and even a stern “no” or “eh eh” is attention. And many dogs consider pushing them away to be play. Here are a few ways to effectively deter jumping behavior:
- Teach an incompatible behavior: A dog can’t jump if they’re expected to do something that requires all four paws on the ground (what we call having four on the floor). Give your dog a solid foundation of sit. If your dog wants your attention, they must sit for it. They only get attention as long as they have all four on the floor. The moment they jump up…
- Remove all attention: Again, this means not even scolding them. Stand up and either a.) turn around and walk away, or b.) walk “through” (or past) them and keep walking.
- Make a game of it: If turning away from and walking “through” the jumping aren’t enough to get the message across, try this game. Tether your dog to a piece of heavy furniture or another stable object/fixture. Have one individual, either a family member or a guest, approach at a time. As long as the dog keeps all four on the floor, they get attention and affection. The moment they jump up, the person walks away out of the reach of the tether. This way the dog can’t pursue attention. This is especially useful when managing an excitable, jumpy pup when guests are over. Just make sure your guests know the rules of the game! (Note: This technique is also useful for dogs who get mouthy out of excitement.)
- Use a leash: If your pup is prone to jumping, have them wear a lightweight leash at all times. We call this a “dragging leash” or “drag line”. When your pup starts getting jump, tack the leash to the floor with your foot. The length between your foot and their collar should be enough that, as long as they have four on the floor, there is no tension; but as soon as they jump up, there is automatic and immediate pressure. This gives the dog instant feedback that jumping up is a.) unsuccessful and b.) uncomfortable.
With enough repetition of both these steps, your pup will pick up on the pattern: four on the floor = attention; jumping = no attention. To dogs, it’s really that simple. As your dog begins to show an understanding and offers a sit in a situation where they would usually jump, lavish them with praise and other rewards.