Oakwood Blog

Jumping Up!

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A common greeting we may receive from our dogs is one of high excitement and in particular, jumping up.

But why do they jump? What do they actually get out of it?

Most of our dogs will leap off the ground in order to get attention. This excitable response is often seen as quite appealing by owners whilst their dog is young and small. Owners often think that this behaviour will disappear over time. However, the more we give our dog’s attention for showing this behaviour, the more they are going to show it again in the future. Jumping up quickly becomes undesirable and unwanted in almost all scenarios.

We need to teach our dogs that jumping up will not gain them anything. Alternatively, if they stay nice and calm, that will provide them with everything they could ever want. If your dog jumps up at you, try your best to not respond to them. Avoid responding with a push down, 'no', or 'get down' command. Even these responses can be very rewarding. Your dog is much more likely to learn that jumping actually gets them a response and therefore the attention they crave when you are responding in this way. Turning your back, walking away from them, and completely ignoring the behaviour is the best approach.

We want to reinforce that having all four paws on the floor will get them something, i.e., attention, toys or treats. When they make a nice choice and remain on the ground, make sure we are praising and letting them know that this is exactly what we want to see. This is especially true in situations where they normally jump up a lot but have chosen to stay grounded.

Remember to be consistent, making sure everyone is on the same page with this training is crucial. If you are consistent, your dog will learn what works and what doesn’t. Without consistency, our dog’s get easily confused and will struggle to understand which behaviours we want to see. There is no good ignoring them 5 days out of the week when they jump but then fussing them for doing so at the weekend. In the same sense, if one person is rewarding the jumping behaviour but another person is ignoring them, they will be receiving mixed messages.

Another approach to tackling the jumping behaviour is to teach our dog’s an alternative such as sit. Once your dog understands to keep all four paws on the floor, start asking your dog to sit. Once this behaviour has been shown, rewarding the calm behaviour. If you keep asking for this behaviour and keep practising, your dog will start to sit everytime they greet someone, as this has become the new rule to get attention.

Charlotte - Behaviour Counsellor