One of the most common issues that I am called for is dogs jumping up on the family and guests. One of the reasons this problem starts is from when the dog was younger and smaller and when the dog jumped on you it was hugged, kissed, or pet by the owner. Without realizing it your response of positively reinforcing the jumping caused your puppy or dog to see that if it jumped it got rewarded.
Once it becomes frustrating then the pushing of your dog to get off of you or your family and the frustration behind it will now cause your dog to take that as play or you becoming just like they are being and it just intensifies the jumping and most likely combined with play biting you.
So how do you stop this pattern that your dog has learned? First is understanding that it takes consistency in order to change the behaviors or patterns of your dog. Meaning that if you are doing a session with your dog and he or she is doing good during the session than once you are done your dog is allowed to just be free and roam the house and starts jumping on you than you will never reach the goal that you are looking for.
How do you be consistent? Crate trained dogs are the best trained dogs because they are taught that being in their crate is a positive place for them to go and relax and be stress free. Same as all humans have a place they like to go and relax or to get away from stress in their day, that is the way that a dog should associate going into their crate. This allows us to be consistent when shaping the behaviors that we are looking for in our dogs. I often use the comparison of a having a child and when we are not able to supervise them we have them confined in a crib, stroller, or car seat for their safety until they learn and understand how to be out on their own.
Most dogs learn how to “sit” and once your dog sits you tell them “good” to mark the moment that they sat and then they are rewarded for that. This is called marker training. Your dog is learning that when they hear the word “good” they will predict a reward following that. Same as we predict getting paid for work that we are asked to do, if we did not get paid we would no longer go to the job and do the work that we are asked.
The difference with a dog getting paid for working is that once that is done consistently then we can gradually fade away from the frequency (how often we give them a treat for sitting) of reward after we mark the behavior with the word “good” and the dog will continue to work just as hard knowing the reward will come at some point but just not sure when. It takes incremental steps to get to that point and that is usually where most dog owners rush to far ahead of where the dog is realistically at within their learning stages.
So now that you understand some of the science behind dog training you can now use that same method for the commands that I choose to use for jumping which are sitting and the word “off”. I will have a handful of high value treats on me and when the dog jumps i will use the treat to back the dog away from me and will say the word “off” and once the dog backs off of me I will mark that with the word “good” and pay or reward the dog. You can also use the word sit but its not all of the time that we want our dogs sitting when they are jumping on you or someone else.
When your dog jumps
Present the treat and say “off”
Once your dog is off then say “good” and give the treat
Be consistent 10 out of 10 times doing that every day and in between sessions keep your dog crated or in a pen for a little while and you will reach your goal of your dog learning to not jump on you or your family.