Question from Jacky Brosnan:
How do you STOP your dog jumping up when anyone comes in or when we come back in
Answer from Shanika Winters:
Hi Jacky, thank you for your question about your dog’s jumping behaviour when anyone comes into your house. To answer your question I will try and give you several strategies to put into place to try and improve your dog’s behaviour as regards the jumping up at people.
Why is my dog jumping up?
Most dogs that jump up at people are doing this as they are excited to have company but there can also be an element of dominance in jumping behaviour. It is important to try and reward the good behaviour your dog does and try to play down or ignore the unwanted behaviours. In order to help reduce an unwanted behaviour we need to look at the whole of your dogs day and what it involves.
A typical day for a dog
Most dogs will start their day with their owners waking up, letting them out to toilet and then giving them their breakfast. This is usually followed by some form of exercise and then the owner leaving to go to work or on the school run. At some point later in the day the owners will return and again let the dog out to toilet, which may also involve some exercise. If your dog is fed twice daily then they will have another meal, followed by another toilet outing before everyone settles down to bed/sleep.
Some dogs are very happy with their own company or that of another animal or people. However not all dogs get enough mental stimulation with a typical day as described above. It can really help a dog’s behaviour to have more mental stimulation.
How do I provide my dog with mental stimulation?
Even if your dog is now an adult dog going over basic training such as sit, stay, down, recall and fetch can be a very effective way to stimulate them as well as strengthening the bond between dog and owner. A simple ten to fifteen minutes a day of training behaviour can soon make a big difference to your dog’s behaviour. For those owners who have the time then agility or flyball are other excellent ways to train your dog and stimulate them at the same time.
Toys and sounds can also help to stimulate a dog, sounds can be provided by having a radio on in the back ground when no one is at home with your dog. Toys come in many varieties, hard chews through to soft squeaky ones. If you are leaving your dog alone with toys make sure that they are safe and cannot pose a risk if swallowed or parts are eaten.
Rewarding good behaviour
When anyone enters the house it can be helpful to have some treats which are out of the dogs reach. When you enter, ask your dog to sit, when he or she is sitting nicely then gently offer him a treat along with praise for his/her good behaviour. If this is repeated each time someone comes into the house, hopefully your dog will soon learn that good behaviour leads to praise/rewards. Eventually you will not need to use treats and the praise alone will be enough reward for your dog. At times your dog may go backwards in his/her behaviour and use of treats may be necessary again. If your dog is very excitable then it may be the case that as well as asking them to sit, someone will need to hold them gently in the sitting position to encourage them.
Try your best not to shout at your dog for his/her unwanted behaviours, it is best to try and ignore them, play them down or substitute them with a good behaviour. The problem otherwise can become a cycle of bad behaviour being reinforced through owner reactions even if the reactions are bad. The dog will just see that he/she is getting a reaction from his/her owner.
I hope that my answer has given you a few ideas of how to try and discourage your dog from jumping up and that they are soon behaving in a much happier and better way.
Shanika Winters MRCVS ( online vet)
If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.