Jumping Up For Attention
Show your dog how polite sitting, not jumping, gets them attention.
You probably already know the answer to this one. Your dog jumps up because they’re happy! And dogs jumping up on people is almost never about dominance, aggression, or anything like that. Your dog is probably jumping up on you because they love you and want attention! Now, this is definitely not polite behavior, but it’s still friendly. In this lesson we’ll discuss how to teach your dog the polite way to say hello to people.
Whenever you want to change a bad behavior, you should have 2 goals: teach your dog a GOOD behavior to do instead, and ignore the BAD behavior from now on. The next 3 steps will explain how to do that for dogs jumping up.
This is a very important concept that comes up a lot in dog training, especially when working on problem behaviors.
If you want to change a certain behavior, you have to use both positive reinforcement to encourage a good behavior, and a little bit of punishment to discourage the bad behavior. Neither reinforcement or punishment is usually effective on their own. When we say punishment, we mean light punishments, like ignoring your dog, using a stern voice, or using a slight tug on the leash.
This is very simple exercise. All you have to do is:
The first thing we want to do is get our dog into the mindset of “do a sit and get treats”. So ask them for a sit five times. Each time give them a treat then walk away to “reset”.
What’s also very important is that if your dog is SO EXCITED that they try to jump up on you even before you ask them to sit, just turn and walk away. This is the “punishment” we were talking about before.
So your dog will either jump or you ask them to sit or jump up at you and you turn and walk away instead.
Now is where it starts getting fun! Now that your dog knows what you want him to do, try walking up to them again and not saying anything – see what they do!
For this next part we’re going to teach your dog that they should sit all the time to be polite, not just when we ask them to. If you have really smart (or hungry) dog, they may have already figured this one out!
To teach an “automatic” version of a command, warm up by practicing the command a bunch of times. After a while you may find that your dog does the command on their own “by accident”. If you reward them for doing the command without being told to, they will do it like that more often!
“Automatic” commands can be very good, like sitting to get attention. They can also be really annoying, like when we “accidentally” teach our dogs to bark for attention by rewarding them with attention when they do it.
Really quickly do the same “sit” exercise from earlier, or skip it if you just did it right now.
Now, after your dog has done several sits with you ASKING them to, try walking up to them and say nothing. They might sit because they’re expecting it!
So now your dog will have 3 options – sit automatically, sit after being asked, or jump. Only sitting automatically gets them treats!
Same as before – walk away after each time you “test” your dog, then come back and try again!
Teaching your dog not to jump on YOU can actually go pretty fast, but many dog owners have a lot more trouble teaching their dog not to jump up on other people.
Having a dog is all about socializing and having fun with them. Interacting with other people is an important part of that. Don’t be shy – ask for help when greeting people. Most dog lover will be very happy to help with the training! It helps to develop a “script” when you go out with your dog to tell people what to do, like:
“Yes you can totally pet him! But here’s a treat, you have to ask him to sit first.”
Now that you know how to teach your dog to sit for attention and not jump up, there’s something very important to know:
When you start training behaviors like jumping up, not barking, or lying down quietly while you relax, it’s very easy to forget about them once the bad behavior is mostly gone. But you must remember that your dog is trying VERY hard to be polite! Always look at your dog when they’re doing NOTHING and think “before we started training, would they have wanted to do something bad right now?”. You have to remember to reward them, even if they look like they’re not doing anything. Doing “nothing” is being polite! Reward it!
Now try this exercise: start with the previous exercise of waiting for your dog to sit. Then you can start walking around a bit. If your dog does anything OTHER than jumping, give them treats! Walking with you, sitting, lying down – these are all more polite than jumping!
Just like before, run through the same steps of “warming up” by asking your dog for a few sits first.
Now slowly walk away and calmly ask your dog to follow you as you walk. If they come over and sit, walk by your side, or ANYTHING ELSE that’s not jumping, give them a treat!
You can slowly start to move faster, get more playful, and “test” your dog more to make sure they don’t jump and instead sit or do anything else to be “polite”.