Does your dog jump up?
This is a really common issue – and many dog owners don’t even realise that telling their pet ‘no’ or pushing them away could actually be making the problem worse.
Be careful not to reinforce
The first step to stopping your dog jumping up is to make sure you or others are not unintentionally reinforcing the behaviour.
Using negative reinforncement, such as raising your voice or pushing your dog away, can not only cause your dog distress, it can actually make the problem worse.
This is because your dog could perceive this as a reward, just because it’s attention.
Even if your dog does perceive this as being negative, they may make an association you didn’t intend.
For example, if your dog jumps up on you when you get home and you yell, they may make the association that you coming home from work is something to be concerned about, rather than connecting the punishment with the unwanted behaviour.
It can also be very confusing for your dog when the same behaviour is met with different responses by different people (for example, if jumping up on you results in a stern ‘no’, whereas jumping up on a guest results in pats or encouragement).
It’s important to make sure the whole family, and guests, are on board training.
Ignore, wait, reward
When your dog jumps up, immediately turn on your side – do not talk or make eye contact.
Once your dog calms down, and has a bottom, or all four paws, on the ground, reward them. Positive behaviour should be rewarded quickly. A clicker or verbal cues like ‘good’ or ‘yes’ followed by a high-value treat can help build correct associations.
As soon as your dog offers you a more desirable behaviour than jumping up, reward them so you don't miss the opportunity.
Practice calm meetings with visitors by keeping your dog on a lead and rewarding them for not jumping up. Keep calm when visitors come over, and refrain from over-exciting your dog when you come home from work.
If your dog is struggling to calm down, remove yourself from their presence until they settled.
Having this consistency will help your dog feel less anxious – it will know what’s expected and that calm behaviour is all that’s needed to get your love and attention.
If your dog or puppy would benefit from additional training, you can learn positive, reward-based methods from RSPCA WA’s expert dog trainers at locations across Perth and the wider metro area. Click here for more info.