It's not uncommon to see a dog jump up to greet people. But it's a bothersome behavior and can be dangerous when dealing with a large dog, as it could cause falls or harm. In this article, our dog trainer explains why dogs get nervous and don't behave appropriately with visitors. We also provide a method with 5 progressive steps to teach your dog not to jump on guests you receive in your home.
Dog jumps up at strangers: common mistakes owners make
The most common reason a dog jumps at people is attention seeking. In addition, it is usually preceded by a signal, such as the doorbell, or the voice of your visitors. That expectation usually puts him in a state of nervousness and anticipation.
It is very common that, when owners see that their dog throws himself at people, they try to avoid it, even if it is by making certain mistakes.
Mistakes that, instead of fixing the problem, reinforce the behavior they wanted to correct. For example:
Hold the dog
There are those who hold their dog so that it does not bother their guests. However, acting in this way, the dog will have even more desire to go see people. The best thing to avoid encouraging his behavior is to let the dog go see people naturally.
Pet the dog or let it be petted when it feels nervous
If you or your visitors pet your dog when it feels anxious, it will become more excited when people come over to your house. This is because petting serves as a reward that reinforces the dog's excitement, leading it to repeat this behavior.
Yelling at the dog
Yelling at the dog only increases its anxiety and does not correct its behavior. Additionally, calming down a nervous dog can take away valuable time with your visitors. It is essential to maintain a calm attitude when interacting with your dog at all times.
Lock up the dog
Locking up the dog when visitors come prevents it from learning how to behave when people are over. Moreover, the dog might perceive being locked up as a punishment, increasing its anxiety. Instead, teach the dog to stay calm and regulate its emotions.
Teach your dog to stop jumping up on people
Steps to teach your dog not to jump on visitors
If your dog jumps on people and you have not started these exercises yet, tell your visitors to turn around when the dog is about to jump on them. This way, the dog will not get the response it expects: attention.
As with any exercise, consistency and coherence are as important as patience and repetition.
- Make sure that all members of your household follow the same guidelines so that the dog does not understand that it is okay to jump on some people but not others.
- Keep the sessions short to maintain the dog's attention.
- Repeat these exercises in sets of five.
1. Correct with the leash in hand and reward the dog
- When your guests ring the doorbell, go get the treats.
- Put a short leash on your dog. Open the door.
- Each time your dog jumps on someone, say "NO" and pull the leash down until it stops jumping.
- When it understands and stops jumping, call it by name and reward it.
If your dog does not jump on the guests during this step, you should still call it by name and reward it.
You will need to repeat this step until your dog no longer jumps on people. Once you achieve this, you can move on to step 2.
2. Correct with the leash on the ground and reward the dog
- Each time your dog jumps on someone, say "NO", grab the leash and pull down until it stops jumping.
- Call it by name and reward it.
3. Correct with a small cord and reward the dog.
When your dog jumps on someone, say "NO", grab the small cord and pull down until it stops jumping.
Call it by name and reward it.
If after doing this step your dog did not jump on the guests, you should still call it by name and reward it. Repeat this step until your dog does not jump on people to consolidate the behavior. Once you achieve this, you can move on to step 4.
4. Correct only with the collar and reward the dog
- Leave your dog off-leash with his collar on
- If he behaves well, say "GOOD" and reward him
- If he misbehaves, say "NO" and correct him by pulling on his collar until he stops jumping
- Call him by his name and reward him
You will have to repeat this step until your dog no longer jumps on people. When you have achieved this, you can move on to the final step.
5. Eliminate rewards
When doing dog training exercises with rewards, the reduction should always be progressive. The goal of this last step is to achieve the desired behavior without giving any rewards. Doing it abruptly can create confusion and make the dog lose interest.
Therefore, it is important to do it progressively, following a plan to reduce rewards. For example, rewarding sometimes and not others, or replacing food rewards with petting or a simple "GOOD".
Remember that giving good feedback is as important for their learning as giving clear signals and being consistent.
Related: How to Teach a Dog to Sit and Stay
Teaching your dog to behave well when you have guests over is essential for your coexistence. Not only will you gain peace of mind, but it is also key to being able to continue receiving visitors in a pleasant way, and for your dog to have a healthier experience. Follow these steps in order and do not move on to the next until you have achieved the goal of the previous one.