Military Dog Jumps Up During Training
Does your dog jump up on you when you come home? Does he do the same thing when friends visit? Have you been telling him “Down!” or “Off!” with little or no results?
There’s an easy fix, but first you should know that when a dog jumps up he’s usually expressing a positive emotional state called “social attraction.” This is not something you’d want to quash or squelch in your dog. In fact, you actually want to nurture your dog's social attraction because it's what makes your dog want to come when called and walk nicely next to you on the leash. These emotions comprise one of the basic keys to Natural Dog Training.
It might be helpful to know that when military dogs, detection dogs, and police dogs are trained, they're rewarded for obeying by being invited to jump up on their handler!
There are two simple rules about jumping up: the dog should never be rewarded for jumping up on his own. He should only be rewarded if he’s asked to do so (i.e., given the command to jump up), and 2.) the dog should never be punished for jumping up, at least not overtly. There are lots of ways to discourage the behavior, like kneeing the dog in the chest, giving a painful leash correction, or hitting the dog with a rolled up towel. These techniques usually have a negative effect on your dog's feelings of social attraction.
In order to “enforce” the no jumping rule, all you need to do is make sure that whenever your dog jumps up without being asked to, simply twist sideways while saying, “Okay, off!” in a pleasant, inviting tone. His idea is to make contact; yours is to not let him unless you give him the command to jump up first. You do not need to scare or hurt the dog.
As for teaching your dog to jump up on command, that’s pretty simple too. Just show him a treat or a toy, hold it in front of his nose, then move it up to your knee or thigh, or wherever your dog would naturally put his paws if he were to jump up. As he jumps up say “Okay, up!’ in an inviting tone. When first teaching a new behavior it’s always a good idea to give the command after the dog has already obeyed it, not before. It sounds backwards, I know, but it works much better during the initial learning stages.
For dogs who show an initial reluctance to jump up, try doing the exercise while seated for a few days, then transition to getting the dog to jump up while you're standing.
Once you've gotten the dog to jump up on command, and the dog has taken the treat or toy from your hand, twist sideways while saying, “Okay, off!” in an inviting tone of voice. With most dogs you’ll only need to do this for a few days and he’ll have learned to jump up and get down on command—no more need for treats or toys.
For bigger dogs, have them jump up to an outstretched arm, or just have them lean up against you. For dogs who are shy about jumping up, start from a sitting position or even by lying down on the floor. Gently encourage the dog to come make contact, starting with just one paw on your chest and building slowly and gently from there.
Give yourself two weeks of short, two-minute sessions, several times a day to bring this type of dog along. For dogs who are too energetic about jumping up, teach them that they only get rewarded when they make calm, steady contact. No “pogo-ing” allowed!
After a few days add a twist: hold the dog’s collar as you give him the treat or toy. Don’t let him jump down on his own. If he tries to break contact, hold him in place for a fraction of a second, then let him go while saying, “Okay, off!”
Okay, now that the dog has learned the “Up!” and the “Okay, off!” it’s time to change things around a little!
Stand as you usually do, then pat your knee or thigh, but don’t say “Up!” Just induce him to jump up without giving him the command by using the treat and the hand gesture. When he tries to jump up, step back or twist sideways. Don’t let him make contact. Do this two or three times in a row, depending on how soon he starts to show uncertainty about what you want him to do. Then, on the third or fourth time, pat your knee or thigh and say, “Up!” Praise and pet him when he obeys.
With really hard cases it’s okay to put the leash on your dog, let it fall to the floor, stand on it with just a little slack so that your dog self-corrects when he tries to jump up. When he does, give him lots and lots of praise and throw a ball for him to chase of play tug with him.
Do this for a few minutes, several times a day, for two or three days, and you’ll be surprised at how your dog no longer jumps up, yet is still socially attracted to you!
"Life Is an Adventure—Where Will Your Dog Take You?"