Have you ever been so excited to see someone that you want to jump on them? That’s pretty much how your pup feels every time they see you. Yes, it’s flattering (if only everyone could be so psyched when you walk in the front door). But repeated jumping can get annoying fast—especially if it’s on guests that don’t love your dog as much as you do. It’s one of the most common behavioral issues, accordingly Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, a dog behavior specialist and founder of USA Dog Behavior, who shared his tips for how to keep your pup’s feet firmly planted on the ground:
Step 1: Understand why your pup is jumping
“Jumping is part of what we call demand or attention seeking behaviors,” explains Shaeffer. Dogs are social animals they want our attention—so when they jump on you, it’s their way of saying ‘pay attention to me!’ “It’s a benign behavior, the dog isn’t being aggressive,” he says. But they keep jumping because if you look, touch, or talk to your dog when they jump up they realize that it works. “Dogs only do things if they’re reinforced and once they are they’ll keep doing them forever.”
Step 2: Discourage them from jumping
Stop reinforcing that behavior! “The next time your dog jumps up, don’t look, talk or touch them. Completely ignore them,” advises Shaeffer. “Do a 180 and walk away.” It's tough, we know, but effective. And make sure you ask anyone who interacts with your pup do the same. You may notice that they’re jumping more for the first few days—it’s called an extinction burst—but it’s a sign that it’s working, says Sheaffer.
Step 3: Reinforce not jumping
Now you have to reinforce the behavior that you do want. When your dog has all four paws on the floor, give them lots of praise and attention. “One of the best times to reinforce good behavior is when the dog walks up and never jumps in the first place,” says Sheaffer. If they start jumping again ignore them, and when they get back on the ground give them attention. Consistency is the key, so make sure your family and friends do the same thing—and you should be able to stop the jumping in a week.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.