Everybody knows a jumper—a knock-you-over-when-you-come-in jumper, a muddypaws-on-the-couch jumper, a counter cruiser (a dog who likes to sniff along with countertops). Jumping is a sure-fire attention-getter. So what gives? The first step in solving your problem will be to understand how it became a problem in the first place. Once again, your dog’s not to blame. Let’s hop into his paws and see what’s going on.
Dogs see us as other dogs. Eye contact is a big method for canine communication. Our eyes are up, so to be gracious and greet us properly, dogs must jump. The first time this happens, often in puppyhood, a hug follows. “Isn’t that cute?” After about the tenth jump, it’s not so cute. So the dog usually gets a shove. But what’s a shove to a dog? Confrontational play. The dog jumps higher and harder the next time. So the human tries a little toe stepping, paw grabbing, yelling, all with the same effect; dogs think jumping is very interactive and very fun.
Counter jumping is another favorite pastime. After all, we’re looking at the counter constantly, so why shouldn’t the dog do so as well? When a dog jumps up, the human reacts by shouting and shoving. The dog interpretation? Prize envy. The dog thinks, “Whatever I was reaching for must be excellent because everybody raced over for it.” So the dog reconsiders. He jumps when your back is turned or you’re out of the room. Is this behavior spiteful? No, just plain smart. Now let’s dissect and correct this problem one jumping situation at a time.
The best way to remedy jumping when you come home is to ignore your dog. Try it for a week. Come home and ignore your dog until she’s given up the jumping vigil. Keep a basket of balls or squeaky toys by the door. When you come in, toss one on the ground to refocus your dog’s energy. If your dog’s crate, don’t let her out immediately; wait until she’s calm.
If you have a big dog or a super persistent jumper, put on an overcoat to protect yourself. Whether it takes two minutes or 20, go about your business until your dog calms down.
Do you have kids? Tell them to look for rain and do the same. Cross your arms in front of your chest and look to the sky. Don’t look down until the coast is clear. Consistency is key. If one family member follows the program but the others encourage jumping, your dog will jump-test all visitors.
Bet You Didn’t Know:
Dogs mimic their leaders’ energy levels. If you come home to an excited dog and you get excited, what message are you sending? Instead, come in calm and wait to greet your dog until she’s settled down too!
Ignore a jumping dog.
When Company Arrives:
CHARLIE (the dog): Oh boy! The doorbell. What fun! All eyes are on me. Paws flying everywhere! Oh no! Why are you putting me in the basement? What did I do? Bummer.
COMPANY: Oh my gosh. This crazy dog. Why don’t they train her? How unsettling.
It’s a common routine. Nobody’s in control. Nobody’s comfortable, except maybe the dog. But even that passes if you have to isolate the dog. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Remember the idiom “Good manners start at home?” Well, the same rule applies to dogs.
First, be stern with your regimen and train your company how to act around your dog— and you thought training your dog was tough.
Practice Doorbell Setups. Put your dog on her Teaching Lead®. Position someone at to ring the bell 10 times at 20-second intervals. Tell the visitor to come through another door when he’s done. Each time the bell rings, call your dog’s name and walk away from the door. If your dog is a real maniac, try the chin lead and discreetly spray her nose with Binaca Mouth Spray® as you say “Shhh.” Practice these set-ups twice a day until your dog tones down her reaction.
If you’re sitting down, anchor your dog until she’s calm enough to greet your guests.
Create a Greeting Station. Designate an area by the door to send your dog when the company arrives. Secure a leash to the area and place a favorite ball or toy there. When the bell rings, station/secure your dog as you instruct “Go to your place” and answer the door. Instruct your visitors to ignore the dog while greeting you. Wait until your dog has calmed down to introduce her, even if it takes an hour.
Designate a Greeting Toy. If your dog’s a real tennis ball fanatic (or any other toy), withhold it until you have company arriving. Each time you enter your home or company arrives, say “Get your toy” as you toss it on the floor. Spritz your dog if she jumps and continue to ignore her until she’s settled down.
The fly flick says most passive manner. It’s not tough or abusive. You just grasp the collar or leash with your thumb and forefinger and flick your dog off to one side. You might need to do it several times before your dog gets the message. When he finally sits down perplexed, give him a great big hug!
Calming Attention Jumpers:
If you can ignore your dog, the silent treatment is your most effective response. If I kept bugging you for a game of Parcheesi and you didn’t look up once, I’d go elsewhere for fun. Once your dog gets up, encourage her by saying “Get your toy!” and let her pay attention to that. If your dog’s a real nudge, keep a lead (short or long) attached to her collar. When she jumps, grasp the lead and snap your dog sideways quickly (this is called a fly flick) as you continue to ignore her. Give no eye contact, body language, or verbal corrections.
Discouraging Counter Cruisers:
Do you have one of these? Counter cruising is a bad habit that’s hard to break. Corrections actually encourage sneaky behavior. Though I’ve heard it a thousand times, your dog’s not grabbing out of spite. The reason your dog grabs when your back is turned or you leave the room is so that she can avoid a challenge. Let me expand: Your dog sees your eyes and mouth (hands = mouth) interacting with objects on the counters all day. When she copies you, you bark (shout = bark) and challenge her for whatever the prize is. Canine message? Whatever is on the counter must be great, but I better grab it when all backs are turned or they’re out of the room or I’ll have to give it up. Let’s try to solve this problem with dignity:
- With your dog on the Teaching Lead®, place something tempting on the counter.
- The instant your dog looks up to sniff the counter, snap the lead back, say “Ep, Ep,” and shout at the counter “Bad turkey!”
- Continue to work in the kitchen, correcting your dog whenever she even thinks about approaching what’s on the counter.
If your dog’s already on the counter, you’re too late to correct her; instead, flick her off by curling a finger under her collar or grabbing her lead. Do not yell at your dog once she’s on the counter. Do not lurch, shove, snatch, or hit. Touching reinforces the behavior. After all, touch is attention. If you push your dog, you’ll reinforce her behavior. Remember that!
Most people invite puppies on the furniture only to regret it later. If you have a puppy and you don’t want him on your furniture permanently, do yourself a favor and discourage it from the start. If you have a delinquent furniture lover, the problem’s not too hard to break. You’ll just need to be consistent.
Place your dog on the Teaching Lead® and walk up to your couch or bed. The second your dog prepares for the jump, snapback and say “No!” Encourage him to “Sit” and pet him. Walk back and forth until he sits automatically. Try the same set-up with a family member on the couch. Next, lead your dog up and sit down yourself. If he goes to jump, snap sideways and ignore him until he sits quietly. Reward his cooperation with a chew toy.
Still Having Difficulty with Your Jumper?
If you’re still having problems with a jumper, go through this checklist to ensure you’re doing everything by the book.
- Correct jumping before the jump! Nip it in the excitement phase.
- Control yourself! If you want your dog to stay calm, you must set the example.
- Train visitors to ignore your dog until she’s calm.
- Use your Teaching Lead® to lead and station your dog around temptations.