Jumping up (even from tiny dogs) is a problem dog behaviour. So how do you stop your dog jumping up at visitors, and keep them calm and relaxed when they arrive…? The main problem here is actually the visitor! The best types of visitor to have around are ones that don’t particularly like dogs but aren’t scared of them, because they will mostly walk in and ignore your dog. Visitors who love dogs will most likely go gooey around your dog and encourage the jumping behaviour through excessive fussing. Visitors who are afraid of dogs will walk in with an elevated heart rate, eye balling your dog, which will cause your dog to need to approach them to see what the problem is. Neither of these two latter options are very good when it comes to discouraging jumping up behaviour.
Why shouldn’t a dog jump up at visitors?
If a dog is jumping up it is doing so in order to assert itself – gained height means an increased feeling of importance and therefore responsibility. If your dog is jumping up at your visitors it feels responsible for their well being, and their behaviour towards you. They may consider them to be a threat that needs to be kept in check, or they may see them as a liability, and then worry about them constantly while they are round, and even more so once they leave! Plus of course if your visitors are sometimes small children or elderly relatives, jumping up can knock a small/weak person over, and for those who are fearful of dogs, jumping up is the key trigger for that fear.
How to handle it.
The best way to handle the arrival of visitors is to pop your dog out of the way before opening the front door. This way you are showing him/her that you do not need them with you to suss out every guest/intruder and wonder what is what. Let your visitor in and ask them to IGNORE your dog TOTALLY for at least 10 minutes once you’ve let your dog back into the room (making eye contact with a dog and saying “I’m going to ignore you” is not ignoring them!). If you visitor says that they can’t/won’t do this, don’t invite them round any more!!! Wait until your dog is quiet wherever you’ve put them before you let them back in, and everyone totally ignores their return. If they jump up just gently push them away, repeat this as many times as they jump up. If their behaviour becomes excessive, calmly walk them back into the other room again, and keep repeating all of this until they calm down.
Simple! If it doesn’t sound that simple to you, your dog is probably a bit more tricky than the average dog and you could benefit from some one to one help. This is what I do, offering dog behaviour consultations in Essex and the surrounding area, so please get in touch by phone or email and I’ll be happy to speak to you about how I can help.