The ABC's of Stopping a Jumping Dog

The ABC's of Stopping a Jumping Dog

It is important to realize that behavior does not happen in a vacuum. In every behavior there is an antecedent, the behavior, and it's consequence (ABC). If you are having a problem with your dog jumping up on you and others, look at when and why this happens to determine how to change your behavior to change your dog's behavior. Something you are doing now, is probably encouraging your dog to continue the behavior.

With jumping, the Antecedent is usually your arrival or the arrival of a guest. It is natural for dogs to jump up in greeting. They are very sociable creatures. It is natural for them to greet each other and us in a happy and excited way. It may surprise you to know that your reaction to the dog's jumping Behavior (negative or positive) may reinforce the behavior. Whether the Consequence is that you pet your dog or shove him away, your action may serve as a reinforcer.

This is why it is very important not to reward your dog's excited action with an equally excited reaction. When you arrive home, greet your dog appropriately by saying hello to him, but do not pet him unless all four feet are on the floor.

If your dog jumps up on you tell him "Off!" firmly. Don't shout or shriek, just say the word. Push him back with your knee, not your hands. When your dog has all four feet on the floor, quickly reward that behavior by petting and praising your dog. Use the same words every time so the dog will recognize that these words of praise go with the behavior of keeping all four feet on the floor. I actually say, "Good dogs keep their feet on the floor."

Be sure your dog wears a strong, well-fitted collar at all times and is always on leash when you go out. If your dog jumps up on someone else, say "Off!" and take your dog by the collar to firmly remove him from the other person. Do not give in to another person's protests that it is alright with them. Tell the person it is not alright with you, and do not allow the person to pet your dog until all four of the dogs feet are on the floor or ground. Be sure to give your dog your standard verbal praise when all four feet are on the floor.

Be consistent. Use these methods every time your dog jumps up. He will soon learn that when you or other people arrive (antecedent), if he keeps all four feet on the floor (behavior), he will receive pets and praise (consequence).

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