Is there anything more annoying than having a dog jumping on you when you’re trying to do something?
Okay, maybe you don’t understand if your dog weighs less than 20 pounds. But if you live with a big dog, you know what I mean.
Big jumping dogs knock you off-balance. Slobber on your face. And tear stuff out of your hands.
Unless you can teach your dog what a friend of mine did: jump all you want but don’t touch a human. Yes, my friend’s 65 pound dog jumps vertically in excitement without laying a paw on anyone. It’s adorable.
But my dog Honey doesn’t balance so well. When she jumps on someone she puts all her weight on them.
I’ve discovered a secret. And I’ll share it with you.
Teaching A Dog Not To Jump
When Honey came to live with us as a pup, we took the standard advice for teaching her not to jump: don’t reward her for jumping.
Every time she jumped on us, we’d turn our back on her and ignore her. Once she stopped jumping, we’d stoop down and give her lovies.
Honey is a smart girl. And she’s highly motivated by lovies. So it wasn’t long before she always greeted us with four-on-the-floor.
Although I could walk in the door unmolested before Honey was a year old, she would still jump up at other times. And I struggled to figure out how to stop her. Until I noticed what caused Honey to jump. And I took a lesson from Tolstoy on how to stop her.
Tolstoy As Dog Trainer
Tolstoy wrote: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
I’d rewrite it as, “Everyone thinks of changing her dog…”
In other words, to keep Honey from jumping on me, I would have to change.
I noticed that Honey was jumping because she was curious about something I was holding. I also noticed that she was more likely to jump on friends or family members who fidgeted or were carrying things in their hands.
First, I kept my hands very still or at my sides when I Honey was already excited. And secondly, when I did have something in my hands, I let her sniff it.
Putting groceries away? If she was curious, I’d hold an item at nose level and let her sniff.
Bringing the mail inside? Let Honey sniff.
And the crazy thing? It worked.
Honey never (well, rarely) jumps on me. And just because I noticed that she was jumping because she was curious. And because I found a way to satisfy her curiosity.
Now if only I could perfect her behavior with visitors.
Dog Training Is People Training
My father likes to pet Honey. But only when she’s perfectly calm and relaxed.
Unfortunately, he starts petting her before she’s calmed down and they get caught in a circle of over excitement.
If I could teach him to sit with relaxed hands instead of being fidgety, Honey would stop jumping. And the two could have what they both want more quickly.
Unfortunately, dads are harder to train than golden retrievers. Maybe I need to send him a copy of War and Peace to read.
Disclaimer: The “let her sniff” method only works if your dog won’t grab what’s in your hand and run with it. That’s why this method works with Honey. If you put a bag of treats at nose level and your dog takes off running, you might want to figure out a new way to keep your dog from jumping up.
Your Turn: Can you think of a time when changing your behavior helped your dog behave better? Please share. I’m always looking for new tips.
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