Q & A: Jumping up on guests

Q: What is the correct way to stop my dog’s jumping behaviour?

A: This is a very common problem that many people experience. This behaviour is quickly re-enforced in puppyhood when everyone thinks it’s so cute when the puppy runs up to you to greet you. As owners we very seldom consider that he will grow into a large dog weighing between 30 and 60kg, depending on the breed.

Here are a few tips that you can use to try and solve the problem:

Tip 1: The first option is trying to ignore the jumping. This can be a very hard task as the dog can be quite persistent, but you have to be patient. It does not help to reprimand him as dogs don’t interpret this as negative – it’s still attention to them.

Tip 2: It is important not to give him any attention while he is jumping. When he has all four feet on the ground you can give him lots of love.

Tip 3: Teach him an alternative. For instance when you see him running up to you, ask him for a ‘sit’ instead. Reward the behaviour and your dog will learn that sitting gets him attention.

Tip 4: For this to be a success, everyone has to apply it – family members, friends, domestic workers and visitors. You might come across family or friends who say: “Shame it is fine, I really don’t mind,” – but at the end of the day you don’t want this behaviour to be re-enforced. Also, not all people like a big, jumping dog when they arrive at your house and this is confusing for your dog, as he will never know who is fine with jumping and who isn’t.

Tip 5: When small kids are involved it is important that they stand still ‘like a tree’, with hands crossed over their chests. It is difficult to get kids not to react when a huge dog comes running straight at them. They instinctively want to run in the opposite direction. This is internally re-enforced as it is a fun game for the dog, as he not only gets a big reaction but will probably chase the children. If you find this a bit tricky, rather don’t expose the dog to children until an alternative behaviour such as in tip 3 has been taught. The child can then ask the dog to ‘sit’.

Alexander King