"How to Cure Jumping Up."

Does Your Dog Like to Jump Up On You?

October 6, 2007.

There's An Easy Fix

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 an energetic 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 more of it, because social attraction is the repository for the same emotions that make Muttsy 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.

There are two simple rules about jumping up: the dog should never be rewarded for jumping up unless he’s asked to do so (i.e., given the command to jump up) first, and 2.) the dog should never be punished for jumping up, at least not overtly. To “enforce” the first rule, just make sure that whenever Muttsy 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.

As for teaching Muttsy 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 Muttsy would naturally put his paws if he were to jump up. As he jumps up say “Hup!’ 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 this 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 one. With most dogs you’ll only need to do this for a few days and he’ll have learned to jump up on command—no more need for treats or toys.

For XXL 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 something like 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 (or if he’s an XXL dog, don’t let him stop leaning against you) 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 “Hup!” and the “Okay, off!” it’s time to trick him! Stand as you usually do, then pat your knee or thigh, but don’t say “Hup!” Just induce him to jump up without giving him the command, just use the treat and hand gesture. When he jumps 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 and say, “Hup!” Praise and pet him when he obeys.

With really hard cases it’s okay to put the leash on, let it fall to the floor, stand on it with just a little slack so that Muttsy self-corrects when he tries to jump up. When he does self-correct give him lots and lots of praise so that his positive social emotions and energy don’t shut off.

Do this for a few minutes, several times a day, for two or three days, and you’ll be surprised at how Muttsy no longer jumps up, yet is still socially attracted to you!

Detailed descriptions of these exercises can be found in the groundbreaking book Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan.


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