By: Sondra Wolfer
The reason your dog jumps on you when you walk through the door is a sweet one — she’s trying to say “hello.” Touching noses is an instinctual salutation among dogs. Because you’re taller than she is, she jumps to get near enough your snout for a proper meet and greet. Same goes for the guests she jumps all over as soon as they cross the threshold. Despite her amiable motives, you rightly don’t want your dog to make jumping a habit. Aside from the risk of getting smudged with the last thing your dog stepped in, a jumping dog can cause serious scratches, frighten some people, and knock over children or seniors with balance issues.
Read on for training tips to keep your dog’s four paws on the floor when they say “howdy.”
Be a Calming Influence on Your Dog
After being separated from your dog for an hour or a full day, how do you reconnect? Are you almost as overjoyed and excited as she is? Do you dive in for all the loving kisses, jubilant prancing, and tail wagging you can get? It’s going to be impossible to keep your dog mellow during homecomings if you are not modeling that behavior yourself. There’s a time and place for carousing with your best friend, but greetings at the door aren’t it, especially if your dog is high strung. Before training your dog, accept that your behavior will have to change too.
Ignore Your Dog
When your dog jumps on you, give her the cold shoulder. Fold your arms in front of your chest and turn away. Don’t react to your dog at all, and refrain from pushing her off you or yelling. Eventually your dog will get bored and drop down. When all of her feet are on the floor, calmly say hello to your dog, and pet her. When she gets this attention, she’ll likely jump up again. As soon as she does, stand up straight and turn away again, ignoring her. When she stops jumping again, give her attention. It may take repeated sessions until your dog associates having her feet on the ground with the attention she wants. During dog training, patience and repetition are key. She will get it eventually.
Practice With Visitors
Ask a patient friend to help train your dog to stay calm when visitors arrive at your home. They should be someone your dog knows and gets excited to see. Here, a dog harness makes a helpful training aid because clipping the leash to the front chest panel offers greater control against jumping than a collar. When your friend arrives, invite them in while holding your dog at a distance. Wait patiently while your dog pulls, jumps, whines, and barks in an effort to reach her friend. Only when she tires or becomes bored and calms down should you reward her by allowing her to greet your visitor. If your dog jumps, have your friend stand up and ignore her and repeat the process as above.
Distract or Separate Your Dog
For some dogs, distraction is enough to preempt jumping on guests. Give your dog her favorite toy to hold, give her a treat, or toss a ball across the room as they enter. You may have to put an excitable gal in her dog crate or in another room behind a dog gate until the initial entrance is over.
Teach Your Dog to Sit
If you train your dog to sit, jumping will naturally be less of an issue. But even dogs who usually follow the “sit” command may need some training for visitors. When guests arrive, have your dog sit. While she is seated, have your friend approach to say hello. If your dog rises, have your friend turn around and walk back to the door. Have your dog sit again and repeat the process until your dog stays seated throughout the greeting.
Sometimes dog training feels as though you are draining some of the joy out of your furry friendship. Take heart, because what you are really doing is removing a constant source of frustration and worry. Though it takes a lot of commitment and work initially, the rewards that come from training your dog not to jump are great. You can relax when guests arrive and better enjoy all your happy reunions with your best friend.