As a Dog Trainer, I get asked a lot, “How do I get my dog to not jump on people?” If you’ve read my past two articles, you may have an idea of where I’m heading with this…
Because I compete in Agility, I DO want my dogs to jump. AND… I’ve also taught them to jump on me… by invitation. For me, it has purpose, but this article is for those of you that don’t want that behavior.
You don’t have to be a professional dog trainer to teach this. Knowing what you want your dog to DO, is all you need. As we’ve discussed previously, most train from a mindset of “Don’t.” Don’t jump on me, bark, bite, chase, etc. Dogs understand DO.
What you will need to do is look at what you don’t want and create a behavior you DO want. You want to set your dog up for success with reinforcement for making the desired choice. Reinforcement builds behavior and what’s reinforced will be repeated.
Teach an incompatible behavior. When your dog jumps up on you uninvited, remove the reinforcement for the behavior… our attention. It is equally important to reinforce your dog for good decisions not to jump up.
For example: dog jumps up, you turn around, possibly leave the area, and remove your attention.
As soon as your dog chooses another behavior, give him a treat he loves. As he learns what will earn him reinforcement, you can reward him for keeping his feet off of you.
Teach a sit. A dog cannot jump up and sit at the same time. Observe your dog and learn the exact moment he decides to jump on you. Just before that moment happens, ask your dog to “sit.” Reward him highly with a favorite treat for his good choice. This will take some practice on your part!
Look for opportunities to reward your dog when he has all four on the floor! Reinforcement will show him what it is that you DO want. By teaching dogs what we do want, it empowers them to be in charge of the “good things” that earn them reinforcement for offering those behaviors; be it a treat, play, or just being with us.
If you have struggles with your dog, remember it’s the decision making we do in the midst of those struggles which will define the future for our dogs. Ask yourself the question, “Am I choosing a positive solution for these challenges or am I cultivating even more problems down the road?”
It isn’t the challenges we face in dog training that makes us different from each other. It’s our approach and responses to those challenges. In my teaching, I am always looking to create a rich reinforcement history for what it is I want my dog to DO.
Leave me a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what it is you want your dog to DO instead.