Many of you I’m sure have been given the same piece of advice from your dog trainer (maybe even from us!) – don’t let your dog jump on you. Puppies jump on you because, well, they are puppies! But the jumping for attention needs to be trained out of your dog, especially if your puppy is a breed such as a Rottweiler or St Bernard. A cute 5kg puppy jumping on you is a very different prospect to a 65kg dog acting on the same behaviour!
So, we begin the constant routine of ignoring our puppy when they jump, playing with them when they stop, ignoring again when they start again, and all the other training drills we can use to help teach our dog that jumping is not how they get attention around humans.
In the home this is easy enough to work through, but as soon as we leave the house and go on a walk the problem is often worse. The increase in stimulus and the unknown environment often drives our puppy wild with excitement, so all those puppy behaviours are magnified, and our training starts again.
One of the hardest moments is when your puppy meets new people. We know we don’t want our puppy to jump (as you know when your dog is a fully grown adult, they will find the person in the whitest outfit on the muddiest day), so we begin to ask our puppy to sit and wait…and then you hear those fateful words “oh don’t worry about the jumping, I love dogs”.
Now if you say this to people with puppies your intentions are pure – the puppy is cute and a jumping puppy is cute to play with. But unfortunately, you are creating a problem for the puppy and their owner – you are teaching that puppy that it is fun and acceptable to jump on new people. If the puppy does this enough times this will become a learnt behaviour for them.
So please, if you want to say hello to a puppy (or any dog!) when out on a walk please check with the owner first, and don’t let the puppy jump on you.
And if you are a dog owner working on your dog’s jumping behaviour, prepare a little sentence to say to people before they speak to your dog. Something like “please can you ask her to sit first as we are training her to not jump” is polite and makes sure your dog learns the correct behaviour.