Why do our dogs like to jump up on us?
I’ve heard lots of reasons: Because they’re excited. So they can sniff our smelly parts. To get closer to our faces. Because they want our attention. And some people even think our dogs are trying to show us who’s boss by jumping up.
The current, science-based solution to keeping your dog from jumping is to not reward him for doing so. I won’t repeat the suggestions from trainers who think your dog is dominating you—most are ineffective and some are even cruel.
That means if your dog is jumping up, don’t give him attention. Turn away and only acknowledge him when his paws are planted on the floor.
And it works. Pretty well.
But if dogs jump on us for more than one reason, maybe there’s more than one solution to keeping them from jumping in the first place.
At least that’s what I suppose from watching Honey.
What Makes My Dog Jump
Honey never jumps on us when we come home. Sorry I can’t say the same for every guest who visits the house. But after a few weeks of always turning away from Honey when she jumped up for attention, she learned that “four on the floor” got her what she wants.
I’ve watched Honey when she jumps on visitors. Sometimes she’s so excited she can hardly contain herself and the person she’s jumping on is not consistent about ignoring her behavior. Other times she’s imitating the behavior of other dogs in the house. But then I noticed something interesting.
Honey was most likely to jump on someone who appeared to have something in his hands.
My dad makes a funny motion with his hands when he comes in that always attracts Honey’s attention. If someone is clutching a pair of gloves when they enter, Honey is fascinated. And then she jumps to figure out what it is.
Honey will even occasionally jump on me in the course of the day if she thinks I’m holding something interesting.
So I did an experiment. If I allowed Honey to sniff what was in my hand at her nose level, she didn’t jump. She took her sniff. She was satisfied. She went on to the next thing.
Now, when I get an orange out of the fridge, I let Honey take a whiff. If she seems curious about the dust rag I just picked up (and how could be not be curious about something that appears so rarely?), I hold it down near her nose.
Allowing Honey to satisfy her curiosity with a sniff, has given her one less reason to jump up.
Know Your Dog
I’m very pleased to have figured out how to lessen Honey’s jumping. Now I just need to get my visitors to follow through.
But it works because of who Honey is. If I hold a piece of food in front of her nose for a sniff, she won’t grab it and run off to the couch for a good chew. And she won’t steal a piece of cloth and start tugging on it if I don’t tell her it’s time to play.
Allowing a quick sniff won’t work with many dogs. But it works great with Honey.
The trainers I most admire, whether professionals or just savvy dog people, are those who figure out what works by watching the dog in front of them.
That’s what I want to do.
Whether I’m trying to keep my dog from jumping or getting her to come inside the house quickly when it’s cold outside, I won’t find every answer in a training book. I’ll only find it by watching my dog.
So if I want to know why my dog jumps, I’ll just have to ask her.
Your Turn: Does your dog jump? Do you know why? Has that helped you stop the jumping?