Jumping on Strangers

Jumping up on Strangers

Whether its visitors to our house, or random people when out on a walk, some dogs can’t seem to help themselves and jump up all over people.

The reasons are usually one of two…

1. Your dog loves people. He likes to meet and greet them and smell them and ask them for pets, hug them and kiss them and call them George. The jumping will be preceded by wiggly body language and possibly excited vocalization.

2. Your dog wants people to go away and leave him alone and he is literally pushing them away. This may be preceded by carrying his body lower, tucking his tail and/or holding his ears back.  See the Dog Decoder app if you need help learning about canine body language.

Lets deal with the second one first, as, although a more complex emotional motivation, and not as common as the first, it can be easier to manage, but take longer to treat. Your dog is trying to protect himself, so if you take on that role and step between the dog an any approaching person, he will not need to push them away.

If your dog is scared of people and just wants them to go away, do not allow strangers to approach him. You may want to invest in a Space Dogs vest (insert link). Keep him on lead and make it clear that he does not want to be approached.

Be vocal in your defense of your dog. Don’t fall for the “but all dogs love me” line… let them know in no uncertain terms that you are working on training and that they are not to approach your dog. The more comfortable he becomes that people are not going to invade his space uninvited, the less he will feel the need to drive them away.

Teach your dog the “behind” cue: set up a slalom course (I use full 2 liter water bottles for this). Walk through the course with your dog on lead. When you get to a bottle, step slightly in front of your dog so that he has to wait to follow or run over the water bottle, as he side-steps to get behind you, mark it with your cue word (say ‘behind’) and give him a treat. Alternatively, lure your dog with a food treat in your hand to step behind you, add your cue and give the treat when he gets into the correct position. This will allow you to cue your dog to hide behind you, giving a barrier between the stranger and the dog.

Counter-condition: change the way your dog feels about people by embarking on a course of counter-conditioning where his favorite things appear within a second or so of an approaching stranger.

Now, back to the excitement jumping. I would always recommend starting with impulse control exercises like Its Your Choice. Whilst this speeds and aids the training of “Don’t jump on people” its not 100% required.

Really, all you need to do is a) prevent…keep your dog on lead and ask people approaching to wait for the dog to sit or lie down before they are allowed to pet or greet your dog. If necessary, stand on the excess lead (allow enough room for your dog to stand, sit and lie comfortably, but not enough room to jump. If the dog cannot settle, simply turn and walk away. He has lost his opportunity to greet this person. AND b) any approach towards a person that keeps 4 paws on the floor and a reasonable sense of decorum should be rewarded both with food (dropped on the ground or delivered low under the muzzle during the approach to keep the head focussed down) and with attention (once they have reached the person). Even if you have to drop food every 1/2 second while approaching someone, continue to do so until the dog learns that rude greetings = no greeting and polite greeting = food + attention.

In the home, put up baby gates or other barriers to prevent jumping, treat as above both for fear and impolite but excitable greetings. Keep the dog out of the way until he can contain himself enough to greet politely, or completely out of the way (with a nice filled kong) if he is fearful of the visitors.

Further help is available with one-to-one in home consultations. 

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