Our goal with this plan is simply to teach dogs to keep four paws on the floor, even when excited and if needed, to offer a sit as a greeting behavior to humans.

Keep in Mind …

Any Attention for Jumping is Rewarding

Jumping can be a persistent problem behavior because it is hard not to give it attention. And any attention at all reinforces this behavior. Saying anything, like "No" or "Sit" or "Agggggghhh!" can make you really run, and pushing with your hands can mean the game is afoot, and stepping back can turn this into a fun game of chase.

So How Do We Do It? – Techniques to Discourage Jumping Up

Technique 1: Ask for an Incompatible Behavior

Ask your dog for a behavior that is incompatible with jumping. For example, if your dog knows how to sit, cue your dog for a Sit before s/he has a chance to jump. Other incompatible behaviors include going to get a toy, Spin, Shake, Down, Touch/Target, or Go to Your Spot. Resume interaction when the dog is doing the behavior, repeating the exercise as necessary. As the dog is learning, keep interactions including tone of voice and body language, calm so as not to elicit the jumping behavior you are trying to eliminate.

Technique 2: Turn Your Back

If your dog will not redirect to an incompatible behavior and if s/he doesn't tend to get frustrated too easily, this simple technique can work well. When the dog jumps up, in a small fluid motion, turn your back and/or walk away. This indicates to the dog that human contact is withdrawn when jumping happens. Resume calm and quiet interaction as soon as the dog has four paws on the floor, repeating the exercise as necessary. This technique can frustrate your dog, so use this one as a last resort. As the dog is learning, keep interactions including tone of voice and body language calm so as not to elicit the jumping behavior you are trying to eliminate.

TIP: If the dog is jumping during an exciting activity (leashing, feeding, etc.), use the same techniques as above but also make sure that the exciting activity stops with the jumping. For example, if you pick up the leash and the dog starts jumping on you, put the leash down. If that works and you are able to pick the leash back up and move towards the dog but the jumping then resumes, stop moving towards your dog. You only need to backtrack the process as much as it takes to get your dog's four paws on the floor. So, if ceasing moving forward to leash your dog stops the jumping, resume from there. If it doesn't, put down the leash and onward as necessary –> turn away –> walk away –> prompt a sit.

Technique 3: Put "Jumping Up" on Cue

Oftentimes putting an unwanted behavior on cue is a fun and useful tool to stop it from happening when you don't want it to. When you and your dog are ready, choose a cue word like "up" and/or a consistent non-verbal cue like patting your chest with two hands. You will likely also want to teach an "off" cue. Start training in situations where your dog may naturally jump up, such as when you return from work. This makes it easier to prompt and reinforce the jumping behavior. Use your non-verbal chest patting cue to invite your dog up and if desired, say your verbal cue aloud when your dog performs the behavior and reinforce him/her with verbal praise. If your dog does not naturally get down, start training an "off" cue at the same time by stepping forward or turning your back and, if desired, saying "off" as your dog's paws return to the floor. Your dog will not know what the cues mean initially but as you perform and/or say them consistently along with the desired action, they will begin to associate the corresponding action with your cues.

TIP:It will be easier to train this when your dog is a little bit calmer, not when s/he is excited that you're home from work. We recommend the other two techniques for reducing unwanted jumping at those moments, and actively work to training a "Jump Up" cue in a training session.

Troubleshooting Guide

I followed the steps above but my dog is still jumping all over me/guests. It seems really excessive.

Solution: First of all, keep in mind that changing a practiced behavior takes time and consistency. You will need to carry out the plan with fidelity in each scenario where your dog jumps to create the change you're looking for. If the jumping really is excessive, make sure you are fully withdrawing human interaction from the dog anytime this happens. If you walk away and your dog follows and continues jumping, leave the room and close a door/ensure there is a physical barrier between you so continuing the behavior is not an option.

For jumping on guests, you can have your dog behind a baby gate with a drag leash on (do not leave this leash on without direct supervision) when the guests enter. Wait for him to offer calm behavior (whether you choose that to be standing calmly or sitting calmly) and then let him out. If he interacts appropriately, offer praise. If he is not yet ready and the steps outlined in the plan don't successfully stop the jumping, simply pick up the drag leash and walk him back behind the gate. Try again when ready and don't be afraid to wait awhile – you should look for a visible shift to a calmer demeanor and that can take time. Also, absolutely work the exercises in the Extended Learning section to help your dog better moderate his/her arousal and positively reinforce the foundation behaviors you are working towards.

I'm concerned that my dog might not be jumping out of excitement but because he's uncomfortable. Do I still follow this plan?

Solution: It's great that you've noticed this and you may well be correct. Jumping is most commonly done in excitement but it can also be a distance increasing behavior rooted in fear or discomfort. Watch to see if your dog has a tightly closed mouth and tense face when jumping. The jumping may also be more forceful and may even include muzzle punching (brief, forceful contact from the dog's muzzle). The dog will also likely move out of range when not jumping rather than appearing solicitous.

If this is the case with your dog, don't force them to interact and if they show discomfort during the interaction, help them walk away. You can walk away with them and reward them with a tasty treat for coming with you. If this is inside the home, you can give them a special item like a food or chew toy chew to engage within a safer area, either on a preferred bed or mat or in a different room where they can have space from the guests.

If you are concerned that your dog has more generalized fear of people or certain situations, we recommend an in-person consult to assess your dog's needs and develop an individualized training plan.

I definitely want my dog to sit for all greetings, but sh/he is having trouble.

Solution:Sitting for an excited dog takes a lot of self-control on the dog's end than some other incompatible behaviors. To make this a fair and achievable training goal for your dog, you need to keep introductions and your own comings and goings low key may, quiet, and calm. You may need to start by training four paws on the floor. When the dog has mastered that, then up the difficulty and prompt the sit rather than the stand. It may feel like more steps but it often helps you achieve your desired outcome faster because you are meeting your dog where they are and setting them up to succeed while you build behaviors.

Tip: Some of us enjoy jumping behavior and it is often a normal expression of enthusiasm for a dog. Initially, it may be easier not to allow any jumping at all as your dog gets the message. However, once you've mastered the plan, it's okay to allow some enthusiastic hops to sneak back in. Just be clear about where the boundaries are. Often, it's in the distinction between an excited hop in the air vs jumping on someone. And if navigating those appropriate boundaries is too tricky for you and your dog, it's okay to stick to the no jumping rule too!

Extended Learning: The exercises below will help your dog build self-control and teach him/her to default to a sit or having four paws on the floor.

1. The "Take It" Game (builds self-control, minimizing grabbing and jumping behavior): Present a treat in your open palm. If your dog moves forward to grab it, close your hand and move it slightly up, bringing it back into position in front of him as he backs off. As soon as he ceases to try to grab the treat, deliver it to him by bringing your open hand to his mouth and telling him "Take It". Timing is key here so be sure not to withhold for too long or miss the moment he stops moving forward to reward.

2. On/Off Game (helps dog moderate arousal, builds self-control): This game starts slow and boring and builds up to silly and fun. Face your dog and walk slowly and calmly backwards, prompting him/her to follow you. Stop slightly abruptly and ask for a sit, rewarding him/her with a “Yes!” and a treat if s/he's able to follow and comply without jumping up. As your pace and enthusiasm level become easy for him/her, start moving a bit faster and being a bit more animated (talking to him/her as you go, incorporating more movement yourself). Eventually, we'll begin jogging, running, and even dancing backwards as we then prompt for the sit but go at your dog's pace and set yourselves up to succeed by not asking too much from him/her too soon. If s/he jumps up, just say “oops” and try again at a slightly slower and calmer pace.

3. Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol (builds focus, self-control): When working this protocol, don't move on to the next day until the one you are working on is easy for your dog (s/he makes it through without needing to reset any of the actions). Mark each successful step with a prompt “Yes!” and follow that with a treat (use tiny bits of a treat to keep the calories down). If day one is too difficult for your dog, cut each of the steps in half (sit for 5 if it says sit for 10, take one step if it says take two or make your steps baby steps).

Print copy of Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol – http://dogscouts.org/base/tonto-site/uploads/2015/03/7002_Protocol_for_Relaxation.pdf + Audio files of Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol – https://championofmyheart.com/relaxation-protocol-mp3-files/

Questions: Email us at woof@dogpossibleaustin.com!