Our question this week was:My four-month-old golden retriever has just begun to jump up at everyone. He is very friendly. This is not the greeting I would like. How do you stop this before it gets out of control?
Hi – thanks for your email. Great question. I'm glad you understand this behavior can be annoying, especially to guests. "Jumping" is a common and difficult problem and one that I know from personal experience that is irritating.
A wonderful behaviorist, Dr. Ilana Reisner, that has written many behavior articles on our site addressed this exact problem in an article called "Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump".
I'll share her recommendations below (and this works)!: What can be done to plant those four feet firmly on the ground? First, inform all family members and visitors that, from this day forward, jumping of any kind is banned. Peoples' only reaction to jumping should be no reaction. Everyone should remain utterly silent, averting their gaze and adopting an indifferent posture.
Enlist the help of a neighbor or friend who can knock and enter repeatedly. Leash your dog and arm yourself with small food treats (perhaps placing a jar of treats near the door for visitors to dispense) Tell your dog to sit before he jumps up, while he's still calm enough to comply. Reward non-jumping behavior with food treats.
Persistent attempts to jump can be corrected by saying, "OFF," walking your dog briskly in a circle, then telling him to sit (followed by a reward). Repeat the exercise as needed. Unlike pushing, petting or begging your dog to "get down," this exercise is unambiguous and rewards an alternative behavior – sitting. Your chances of success will be far greater if you work with others who can "provoke" your dog by entering the house or passing you on the street, time and time again. You should set up the training.
At each pass, tell your dog to sit and reward this preferred behavior. In time, shift the control from yourself to the "visitor," who supplies attention only when your dog sits. Before you know it your dog will earn your heartfelt praise by sitting calmly instead of jumping up.
A properly fitted head halter, such as the Gentle Leader, can be an invaluable tool for facilitating this type of retraining. All that is required is to pull forward and up to position the dog in a "sit" position. Then immediately release tension on the lead and praise the dog lavishly for sitting.
Best of luck!
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