Does your dog jump up on you or other people? You’re not alone. I’ll address both owner-jumping and stranger-jumping, because I see them as two separate problems with different solutions.
Dogs that jump up to greet their owners have been taught to do so, whether that was the owner’s intention or not. If your dog jumps on you to say hello and you’d like him to stop, it’s time to examine your own behavior in that situation. Any kind of attention paid to a jumping dog (that includes kneeing, shoving, yelling, and all those other nasty things humans do to dogs) will only perpetuate your problem.
Like barking, jumping up is a behavior problem that positive trainers often instruct owners to “ignore.” Unfortunately, this just doesn’t have a high enough success rate for me, and it’s a shame when people turn to aversive methods because what the positive trainer told them (ignore it) didn’t work. This is not to slam the positive trainers out there, I know we’re all in this together. I want to help make dog-friendly dog training known as the most effective route.
As usual, the best way to get rid of a problem behavior is to replace it with an incompatible behavior. Dog owners can do this simply and easily by keeping a jar of treats handy near the door. Before your dog has a chance to bombard you ask him loudly and clearly to SIT. If he jumps on you instead, walk back out the front door and try again in a few seconds. You may need to repeat this a few times, but eventually your dog will sit, at which point you feed him several tasty treats in a row and then get down to his level to say hi. Most dogs learn this quickly and easily, and after a while you won’t need the treats at all.
Jumping on strangers is slightly different, because you just can’t train a random person how to act. If you ask people who wish to greet your dog to ask him to sit, you will risk two things: one is that your dog’s sit cue will become destroyed, as people love to repeat themselves, and two is that many people will get the dog sitting and then proceed to pet him, continuing to do so even if the dog gets up or jumps up. Not good dog training! So for stranger jumping you have two real options. First, you can manage your dog by asking him to sit or down stay for petting. If your dog isn’t trained enough for this, you can physically hold his collar so he is unable to jump. This is only a fair option if your dog truly wants to be petted by this stranger. Never ask your dog to tolerate petting at all if he doesn’t want it, and certainly don’t expect him to perform a stay while a person is petting him if he isn’t 110% comfortable! Second, you can train your dog to do something other than jumping to strangers. You will need high-value treats for this so that your dog is more interested in working to earn food than he is in visiting. Simply click his non-jumping approach, and he will learn to approach and return to you whenever he sees a person. He can learn to walk up to people on cue this way, providing you with control over the situation.