Take the jump out of your dog

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The other day while teaching a pets and babies class for new parents-to-be, I asked the group what their biggest concern was about their pets and babies interacting. On this day, the concerns were almost unanimous: Everyone who had dogs was concerned about their dog’s jumping behavior.

Rambunctious pooches jump because they are excited and want attention. We often are complicit in this parlor game: We use our hands to push them away, which makes them jump on us again. No one likes jumping dogs, though, and when it comes to toddling babies and children, dogs can accidentally knock them over and hurt them. So here are a few tips on training your dog to stop jumping on everyone.

First, hands off. Don’t reward your dog for jumping by giving him attention or using your hands to push him away. Instead, tell your dog “no” and turn away. When the dog’s front paws hit the floor, turn back, pet him and praise him using a soft voice. (Don’t use an excited voice since that will only make him jump again.) Remember, your dog must keep all four paws on the floor to receive your attention. When you walk into the house, walk past your jumping dog and only turn to greet him when all four paws are on the floor.

Second, distract your dog. A dog can’t do two things at once. When a dog is barking, you can say “hush” and then call him to you. Once your dog starts running to you, he can’t bark anymore. You can do the same thing with a jumping dog. If your dog jumps on a visitor, say “no” and then call him to you. He can’t jump on a visitor if he is responding to you.

Third, teach your dog a new behavior. It might be as simple as teaching your dog to sit instead of jump — although this can be difficult for an excited dog to do. Or you can teach him to shake a paw, drop down for a belly rub when company comes over or any other behavior that you think will distract him from jumping.

Here is my example. My golden retriever Brinkley used to jump at the front door. While I could get him to eventually stop, he always had to jump a few times before he would settle down.

So I taught him to jump on command. When he jumped, I used a hand signal and said the word “jump.” After a few times, he understood the hand signal and word “jump” meant he could jump. Then I trained him to “sit” after the “jump” command.

What this meant is that when the doorbell rang, he ran excitedly to the door where I asked him to jump four or five times before asking him to sit. He got to jump and I got a calmer dog who let me open the door.

Jumping behaviors require time and patience to correct. But if you are consistent in your training — and don’t ever give him attention when he jumps, your dog will eventually learn he only gets attention when he stays on all fours. If you give some time to training, you can have a well-behaved dog.

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