All of our ForPaws Puppy Training Clients receive help and guidance on how to prevent and work on common puppy problems. Our latest blog is an excerpt from our new handout on what to do if your dog or puppy jumps up. If you need more help on this matter, please get in touch to arrange a private training session or sign up to our puppy course.
Why Do Dogs Jump Up?
Dogs that jump up are often difficult control both on and off lead and they cause many problems for owners, such as tearing and leaving muddy paw prints over clothes; causing accidents and injuries from scratches and knocking people over and upsetting guests or passing walkers. Dogs can also give themselves back injuries through the bad posture they maintain in jumping up and resting paws on people.
Many owners effectively resolve jumping up in some scenarios, but not others. They ask me to help and assume there will be a simple, ‘one size fits all answer’. But there isn’t, the key to stopping jumping up, is to understand why the behavior is happening and then to address the underlying reason. Reasons include:
- Greetings – many puppies jump up to try to lick faces in greeting humans. Many think this is cute and reward this behavior with fuss, so the jumping up is reinforced and continues.
- Attention – when someone is too busy to focus on them, a dog may jump up to get attention, even if it is just a sharp rebuke – it’s better than being ignored!
- Frustration – some dogs do not know what their owner is asking them to do, so they try out behaviors that have worked before. The owner may give up asking and the dog has ‘resolved the situation.
- Fear – some nervous dogs jump up for physical reassurance.
- Joy – children jump when they are happy - as do many dogs!
In order to work out your dog’s motivation for jumping, you will need to observe when they do it, what the trigger is and what they get from it that makes them repeat it. Once you know this, you can change the behavior. You may realize that sometimes your dog jumps up to greet, sometimes it is because she seems a little nervous – this is normal! But trying to use the same methods to address both scenarios is not likely to work as the underlying reason is different and each need addressing.
What to do About Frustrated Jumping
Some dogs jump because they feel frustrated. This often happens in training a stay. Owners mistakenly hold on for far too long before praising and rewarding a stay. In frustration, the dog may jump up for a treat in the owner’s hand or pocket, breaking the stay. Although he may get scolded and not get the treat, to him, that still beats not getting any attention and the boredom of the training. When owners start again, the dog begins to jump out of the stay faster and faster, frustrated at the pointless and unrewarding exercise. The solution is simple, make the exercise less frustrating. Drop the duration of the stay, rewarding for short stays little and often to build your dog’s understanding of what he needs to do when he hears that word and then (and only then) gradually increase the duration again. Not doing this will just train your dog to jump every time he hears the word ‘Stay’. Help your dog work past his frustration by making the training exercise easier for your dog. Do be aware though, if your dog jumps when he is frustrated, this behavior will likely surface again in other frustrating situations, so watch for this behavior and help your dog work past this each time.