Does your dog love people a little too much?
Overly enthusiastic greetings can be cute at first, but it can be annoying, embarrassing, or even dangerous when your dog jumps on everyone, getting muddy pawprints on nice clothes, snagging their nails on ladies’ tights, and knocking over small children.
Dogs just want to be close to us. They jump so they can be on our level, at optimal height for sniffing faces and giving kisses.
You can teach your dog to politely greet people – without breaking their over-exuberant spirit.
How You Could Be Making This Problem Worse
When your dog jumps on you, your first instinct might be to push them back onto the floor, or block them with your knee. Or, if your dog is jumping on your guest, you might pull back on the leash.
Physically moving your dog to the floor can feel a lot like wrestling to your dog. In a hyper-excited state, they’re not understanding “oh, I shouldn’t be jumping”. Instead, they’re thinking, “this is a fun game”!
That’s why your dog will continue to jump every time they greet someone, rather than sitting politely. Instead of giving them the chance to jump and then pushing them down, you’ll want to prevent the jump from ever happening. The best way to do this is to teach your dog an alternate behaviour – most likely, to sit politely and wait to receive attention.
Using Attention As A Reward
While treats are an effective way to change habits and teach new behaviours, food isn’t necessary when training your dog to sit when greeting people. That’s because you already have a powerful reward at your disposal: attention!
First, you’ll need to teach your dog how to “sit”. This is easily done by luring your dog into the sitting position by holding a treat over their head. Then, add a verbal cue – “sit!” and a hand signal – raise your hand from your side, palm facing upwards.
You might need to use a baby gate or other barrier to keep your dog from rushing up and jumping on you when you get home. There is no need to greet your dog the moment you walk in. Take your time putting down your bags and taking off your shoes. When your dog has calmed down, you can ask them to sit. Once they do, reward them by stooping down to their level and giving them plenty of love.
If you’re expecting guests, leash your dog so they will not have a chance to jump. Put them in a comfortable harness, not a collar that could injure their throat if they do try to jump. Painful collar pops and other physical punishments can actually create a negative association with guests, turning a friendly dog into a fearful one. You don’t want to hurt your dog; you just want to keep them under control until they are calm.
Welcome your guests into your home and let them settle in. Once they do, and they have expressed that they want to greet your dog, allow your dog to walk up to them. Ask your guests not to pet the dog until they sit.
You’ll need some practice before the lesson truly sticks. If your dog jumps on you, simply turn away and do not make eye contact. Avoid engaging with them until all four paws are on the floor. At first, you’ll need to use your “sit” cues. Over time, wait longer and longer before telling your dog to sit. You’ll start to notice that your dog will begin to sit automatically without needing to be told to do it. Affection is a powerful motivator, so your dog will do anything to earn it.
Teaching Your Dog To Leave People Alone
As adorable as your dog is, not everyone is going to walk to greet them. Some people have allergies; some do not like getting fur on their clothes. At times, you may be in a rush and may not want to greet everyone you meet on your walk.
Practice leave it with your dog every time you go for a walk. It’s not just for morsels of food. Your dog can learn to walk past a squirrel, a person, and other dogs. Practice teaching your dog to return their focus on you during walks, no matter what distractions are around. If you play plenty of training games when you’re on walks, your dog will find it easier to focus on you anytime, anywhere.
Get Help With Teaching Your Dog Not To Jump On People And Other Manners
Healthy Houndz is proud to offer positive reinforcement based dog training in Toronto and North York. We not only help you control problem behaviours and teach new skills, but actually understand what your dog is thinking so you can build an even more powerful bond. Contact us today!