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Question of the Week: How Do I stop My Dog From Jumping on People?

Keeping a dog on the ground is really challenging. The most important thing I want to see from dog owners is a change in mindset from reacting to your dog jumping to preventing your dog from jumping.


No one wants their dog to jump, I get that. But screaming off after your dog has jumped is not teaching them to stay on the ground.


You teach them to stay on the ground by rewarding and reinforcing the behavior of "never jumping". If you are commanding them BEFORE they jump, that requires control and obedience on your dog's part and that is treat worthy. You give your dog a treat, you have their attention.


So now I am asking you to change your mindset and your dog to have control, those are two hard things to do! Where should you start?


Keep this in mind: First you teach off of objects, then you teach off of people.


Why? In order to teach off of people, you need your dog:

- to understand the definition of the command 'Off'

- to understand he gets rewarded for being on the ground

- to do the command 'Off' from a distance

- to have control


You can practice all these things with objects such as tables, chairs, counters, couches, etc.


Here are two ways I would practice and prepare for staying off of people.


1. Practice saying 'Off' before your dog jumps on an object, such as the couch.


You are going to sabotage your dog! Fun, right?! To sabotage, put something on the couch that your dog wants.

Sabotage!!

1. When your dog jumps, say 'Off' meaning get off.

2. When he lands on the ground say 'Yes' (this is when he earned the treat)

3. Lure him a couple steps away from the couch


Luring away from object

4. Give him the treat and say "Good Off" (this is when you pair the behavior with the command and reinforce the desired behavior)

5. When he runs back to the couch, say your dog's name and/or 'Off' BEFORE he jumps on the couch

Say it now! BEFORE she jumps!

6. If he turns around and listens to you say 'yes' (He did it! He stayed on the ground and didn't jump! Definitely treat worthy!!) ... If he jumps, that's ok because YOU changed your mindset, he will catch on. Tell him to get off and say 'yes' when he lands on the ground)

7. Lure him a couple steps away from the couch

8. Give him the treat and say "Good Off"

9. When he redirects his attention back to you, tell him to go to his place -> this is where he belongs, not lingering near the couch :)


2. Practice 'Stay' with really hard distractions

As I mentioned, your dog needs control in order to stay on the ground AND listen to you when they are excited. Get your treats ready and practice Stay with difficult distractions, such as kids running around, kids coming home from school, partner cooking dinner, ringing the doorbell, a dog walking by, etc.


Your dog might be able to only stay for three seconds, but that is success and you can build off of that.


Once you have your dog on the ground with the everyday items in your house and you have a great foundation for 'Stay' you can practice the command 'Off' with people. You are going to do exactly what you did for staying off of the couch and apply it to people.


Note about treats: We use treats to motivate a dog to do what we want them to do. There is no better command than 'Off' to use treats. If your dog stays on the ground because you told them to, they deserve a treat (obedience). If your dog stays on the ground even though they really really want to jump, they deserve a treat (control). If you are saying 'Off' all the time without treats, it is time to focus your efforts and only say it when you have treats.

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