Why does your dog jump at you?

20:00, Apr 25 2010

I often go into people's houses and get greeted by extremely enthusiastic dogs that jump all over me. As a dog trainer that's what I am there for. However, is there a place for it and why does it happen?

Most people tend to believe that dogs jump because they're dominant. There's a certain part of jumping that is, but for the most part not really. The real reason behind jumping is just to say hello.

Put it another way. If I came and said hello to you and looked at your shoes, what would you think? I have to maintain eye contact to keep the interest on you. The face is where we put all our expressions on, where we speak from and give directions from. This is the place where our dogs can tell what is going on. A scowl can mean go away, a stare can mean a challenge, a smile can mean hello. What other part of the body does that?

Dogs are only trying to say hello to us. We walk in the door after eight hours of work and they're so excited to see us it's beyond happiness, it's ecstasy. When I come in from a few days working, my children jump at me and get a cuddle. Should I expect any different from my dogs?

The answer is yes and no. First of all, it's socially acceptable for a kid to have a hug but not for my dogs. Do my dogs jump? Better not - but they can jump up on command, which means they still get that same interaction.

And how, just how do we stop the jumping? I want this blog to be interactive so I want you to commit to try this out and then I'll write on more topics. If you're going to try my methods, say so below, just a yes or no.

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Stopping jumping

When a dog jumps, what's the typical human response? First the person may say no, may say to get down, and may tell the dog to sit once it has jumped. The issue with all of these is that everything revolves around what happens when they jump, not before that.

I want your dog to think. It's strange to think of a dog as not an object but as something with spirit and spunk. Your dog is intelligent, so I want him to think about cause and effect.

For example, when your dog jumps it gets a response. When you ignore it your dog may jump more because you clearly didn't notice it! How about we try changing the cause and effect? When your dog jumps, you walk out the door and leave it for two minutes. You then come back in and repeat the command. Your dog will hopefully soon learn that the way to make you leave is by jumping. Now this is the last thing your dog wanted to happen but it learned that the way to make this happen was by jumping. We now have an effective cause and effect relationship.

Give it a whirl a few times when you get home tonight and see what happens. Remember to put below if you're going to try it as it is the only way for me to work out if you're enjoying the information given.

Simon Goodall is director of  Dog Guru Ltd. Dog Guru has branches throughout the country and is now open in Christchurch. On Facebook or Twitter? Check out DogGuruNZ.

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Picture: Reuters