Oh, for Jumping’s Sake!

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by Margaret R. Pender, owner, DogGone Right! Inc.

Your dog is a jumping fiend… jumping when you come home, jumping when they meet someone on the street, jumping to get attention… How can you stop your dog from jumping on you and everyone else?

Let me tell you how I dealt with my Jumping Molly.

First, I had to figure out why and when she was jumping. Once I was able to determine that, it was much easier to deal with or modify her behaviour. Turns out she would jump for a number of reasons:

  1. When I arrived home after having been gone for a period of time and she wanted to say, “Hi, I missed you.”
  2. When we played ball she was a ball-chasing crazy fiend, so if I took too long to throw the ball she would start jumping up and down at me.
  3. When she wanted attention, she would either jump up on me if I was standing up or nudge me with her nose/head if I was sitting down, with a view to climbing on my lap.
  4. She would often jump on people who came to visit us at home, especially people she knew and enjoyed being around.

Once I was able to determine that I had four jumping scenarios to deal with, I had to come up with four solutions.

  1. Jumping When I Come Home

I have a very small entrance way to my home, so having Molly jump all over me when I walked in the door was off-putting to say the least, so I put a gate across the front entrance to separate Molly from me while I took my coat and boots off and put them away. It also gave me the opportunity to prepare to deal with her jumping. I would stand on one side of the gate with Molly on the other side, and I would ask her to “sit.” I was asking for an alternative behaviour. (If she’s sitting she can’t jump.)

I kept a few treats in my front hall cupboard so when Molly didn’t jump I could reward her right away. I also kept a fluffy stuffed toy beside the treats and would sometimes give that to her. I found with Molly (and with a lot of other dogs), having something in her mouth would help calm her, which curbed her jumping.

  1. Jumping When Playing Ball

I did allow Molly to jump when playing ball, notice I said “to jump” not “to jump on me.” When we played fetch or ball there was one rule: If you jump up within 4 feet of where I am standing, the game stops and the ball goes away. If Molly was standing, sitting, or even jumping more than 4 feet away from me she was rewarded with the ball being thrown again.

  1. Jumping for Attention

When Molly jumped for attention I would either ask her to “sit” or “wait,” and then I would get a special brain-teasing toy (such as from www.nina-ottosson.com) for her to play with. If she was quiet with her toy for a while, then I would reward her with either a game of tug, ball, or we would take a walk.

  1. Jumping on Guests

To curb jumping on guests, I taught Molly two things: 1) “Hugs” and 2) “Go to Your Bed.”

I taught Molly to hug by taking advantage of her natural desire to jump, and when she first came to live with me (when she was 4 years old), every time she jumped up I would tap my shoulders a couple of times and say “hugs.” I trained this exercise both when Molly was excited in order to redirect her and when she was calm. Molly’s jumping on visitors and people on the street reduced greatly because they would ask her for a sit and then for a hug. For most dogs, asking for a sit first might create a more explosive jump when then invited to hug, but for Molly it worked the opposite way: she was able to calm herself. This particular scenario gave her the opportunity to jump, something she loved to do, but under controlled circumstances.

If my guests were not all that keen on Molly giving them hugs, they just never asked her for a hug and, in that case, we always had a nice soft plushy toy available for her.

I also taught Molly to “go to your bed” when people came to visit. This I did by showing Molly a treat, leading her to her bed, and once she reached her bed I would ask her to “wait,” click, treat after a few seconds, and then release her. I did not use the formal “stay”; I wanted Molly to relax on the mat in a down position without the formal use of “stay.”

I practised this often and increased the duration of her time on the bed before releasing her. I also always made sure that there was something wonderful on her bed for her to play with or something to eat, such as a stuffed Kong or food-dispensing toy (see www.dogntreats.com/top-10-food-dispensing-dog-toys/ for suggestions). I also recently discovered a wonderful new toy called a Snuffle Mat (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJQY08LPfts for more info).

I knew both of the breeds in Molly’s mix (Standard Poodle and Golden Retriever) were quite the jumpers, so I had to be creative when looking for a solution. I took each scenario in which she jumped, came up with a specific solution that worked by either rewarding her (1. jumping when I came home); providing her with something fun to do (2. playing ball); working on her obedience, which should always be fun (3. jumping for attention); or allowing her to jump but in a way that was acceptable (4. greeting guests). In the end I worked out ways that were mutually enjoyable, and we spent many lovely years together.