Ugh! If I had a dollar for every time I hear this…
“Dogs jump to show dominance”
“Dogs jump to test who's in charge”
That's absolute nonsense!!
The reason why dogs jump is because they want to greet us.
I mean why wouldn't they when we're smiling and saying “Hello!!”.
All that nonsense about dominance is why folks recommend silly things like leash pulling and knees to the chest.
Do you really want to cause your dog discomfort like that?
I'll bet the answer is no.
So today I'm going to share my tips on how to stop a German Shepherd from jumping on you, or your guests.
How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You
The key to doing away with jumping is to teach your dog what you do want them to do. In this case to come towards you and calmly keep all 4 paws on the ground.
I like to have my dog's already mastered in the sit behavior. It's not essential, but it gives them an extra behavior they can offer instead of jumping.
But the main aim here is to set your dog up for success by showing them what you do want instead of what you don't want.
The next step is to move away from your dog and click before they jump. Then treat them on the ground so that they'll anticipate the treat coming from below and not above.
As your dog learns what you want you can delay the click until your dog reaches you and calmly sits or stands instead of jumping. Here, sitting or standing is acceptable.
If your dog jumps, just take a step to the side. All you want to do here is get their paws off you.
So it's important for you to ignore your dog. Stay calm and avoid rewarding their jumping by speaking like saying ‘no' or ‘down'.
Now that you've shown your German Shepherd that you want all 4 paws on the ground when they come towards you, if they do jump and you ignore them, they have an alternative behavior.
So now that you and your dog have the basics covered the next step is to proof the behavior.
Proofing the Behavior
So What's Proofing?
Proofing is teaching your dog not to jump up in all situations by setting up training sessions with jump provoking situations.
Why is Proofing Important?
Dogs are context-bound. This means, if they learn a behavior in the kitchen, that doesn't mean they understand not to do it in the lounge.
It also means raising the criteria making the situations more challenging by adding jump provoking stimuli.
So by proofing, you take that behavior and teach your dog to apply it to other areas, people, and situations.
How to Proof No Jumping
Proofing in different areas is pretty simple. Basically, all you need to do is rinse and repeat the steps you originally followed.
This part goes pretty quickly because all you're doing is showing your dog what you want in different places.
Proofing with more challenging criteria takes a little more work and creativity on your part.
You can work on your own, or you can work with someone.
To begin with, you'll click and reward as you're doing the jump provoking behavior.
And once your dog is successfully staying calm and not jumping you'll start clicking and rewarding after the distraction.
Remember the golden rule of dog training is to set your dog up for success. If your pooch is getting too excited and failing go back a step to less distractions.
Here's a quick example of proofing at the front door…
Click and drop rewards on the ground as you open the door. This removes the opportunity for your pooch to jump by keeping all 4 paws on the ground.
Greet your dog in an excited, happy voice and you can even add some physical touch here. All these things excite dogs and that's what you want so you can proof the behavior.
Remember to click and reward. So it'll look something like this…
Jump provoking behavior / no jumping / click / reward.
If your dog is doing well, raise the criteria even more by moving excitedly to and from the door. Remember a happy voice!
If your dog does jump, just move to the side and ignore them. And then take a step back to calmer movements and voice.
You can even pretend that you're scared of your dog. So try using body movements that a person who's afraid of dogs would do.
Movements like quickly lifting your hands, making gasping sounds, and even moving quickly into corners.
I like adding this step because dogs usually go into a jumping mode when they meet folks who are afraid of them. And they only do this because of those movements. So exposing them to this “proofs” their behavior if they ever come across someone like that.
Adding toys into the mix is also a super way to proof behavior. Keeping the toy out of your dog's reach while remembering the happy voice is the key here.
And then click and reward on the ground if your dog keeps all 4 paws on the ground.
One thing you really need to make sure you don't do is ignoring your dog's jump and then immediately reinforcing your dog sitting.
If you do this, you'll teach your dog to get your attention first by jumping and then give you the behavior you want, which is to be calm.
Quick Steps: How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You
- Teach your dog what you want them to do. A sit behavior works well.
- Move away from your dog.
- Click and reward BEFORE they jump.
- Always reward on the ground.
- As your dog learns, delay the click until your dog reaches you and keeps all 4 paws on the ground.
- If your dog does jump, ignore them, and calmly step to the side. It's important not to reward them by saying ‘no' or ‘down'.
- Proof the behavior in other places.
- Proof the behavior by raising the criteria with jump provoking situations.
Tip: To stop your dog from jumping while they're still in training, keep them on a leash or in a playpen when you're not able to work with them.
How to Stop a Dog Jumping on Guests
While some folks might think it's cute, having a jumping dog is only cute until they knock someone off their feet.
And I get a lot of emails and comments from embarrassed dog owners who want to know how to stop their dog from jumping on guests.
So here I'm going to share with you the best way to teach your dog not to jump on guests and strangers.
The first thing you need to know about this training is that it requires a lot of management from you. The point is to prevent jumping in the first place.
The second thing to know is that even negative attention is positive for a dog.
Yup, that's right. So even if you or a guest says ‘no' or ‘down' or even pushes your dog away, your dog sees it as attention.
And that's rewarding for them.
And lastly, this training is going to take a lot of time and commitment from you to proof the behavior.
Managing the Greeting
Every time your dog jumps up, they are practicing unwanted behavior. And they're learning that it's rewarding.
So the first and most important step is to keep following the on-leash protocol, which we'll get to in a minute.
This is where the management I mentioned earlier comes in.
But here you're not just managing your dog. You've got to be prepared to manage your guests too.
I mention this because a lot of people will just say “Oh, I don't mind, I have a dog at home”.
Well, that's great and all. And if your guest doesn't mind their dog jumping, that's their choice.
But you want your dog to greet people appropriately, so in the kindest way possible, remind your guest not to encourage your dog to jump.
This is the most important step. Without it, this training will not be successful.
If your dog is on-leash and not able to practice the jumping behavior in the first place, they'll soon learn that sitting is just as rewarding.
If guests arrive unexpectedly, just ask them to wait a few moments until your dog is on-leash before inviting them inside.
I recommend not using a collar for this training. If your dog is a strong jumper, they could risk hurting their neck or throat.
So I suggest something safe like a harness.
You could use a body harness that clips on the back around the shoulder area of your dog. You can also use a body harness that clips around the chest area.
The one you chose depends on your dog. But definitely go for a harness instead of a collar.
The idea here is to have control over your dog's behavior and the leash will help you do that.
So stand next to your dog, drop the leash, and step on it. Make sure there's enough slack so your dog is comfortable and so they won't experience a jerk if they jump.
So distance is key here. So to begin with keeping your dog at a comfortable distance from your guest.
Start at about 3 to 6 feet from your guests. That's roughly 1 to 2 meters.
Keeping a distance will help to keep your dog calm. The closer you are the more excited your dog will become.
If your dog gets too excited, move further away to a place where your dog will sit calmly.
Invite your guest to greet your dog for a few seconds. Then lead your dog back to you. Move away and reward your dog for not jumping.
Keeping interaction with your guests in short bursts will keep your dog calm and prevent over excitement.
Keep in mind here that the message you're trying to convey to your dog is…
Desired Behavior = Saying Hello
Unwanted Behavior = Moving Away
Fading the Leash
Once your dog is not trying to jump anymore and staying in the sit position, it's time to start fading out the leash.
But you're not going to remove the leash altogether just yet.
Keep the leash on at all times during these greeting exercises. But don't step on it.
If all goes well, you can start testing greetings without the leash. If your dog is not jumping give yourself and your dog a pat on the back.
You've successfully taught your dog not to jump on guests.
If your dog still jumps, go back and do some more work.
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