We're all at risk of developing bad habits (think procrastination, overspending, nail-biting, etc.). And just like people, dogs can develop bad habits too. One specific bad habit that lots of dogs exhibit is jumping. We'll take a deeper look at jumping and how to prevent your dog from doing it.
Why Do Dogs Jump?
There are several reasons why dogs jump, most often as a way to greet someone, especially when excited. Jumping is actually a normal behavior that begins in puppyhood. Puppies jump up to lick and sniff adult dogs' faces because they can't reach them. But as puppies mature, they no longer need to jump to greet another dog and naturally grow out of this behavior (of course, small dogs may still jump to greet larger dogs and people since they never grow to reach them).
Because it's a natural behavior, young pups also tend to jump on humans. And since puppies are adorable, people tend to encourage the behavior by petting, talking to or playing with them. However, while it may be cute to you when puppies does it, as soon as they grow up, you now have a big dog who jumps.
How Do I Correct the Jumping Behavior?
It's easier to prevent jumping behavior than correct it, so it's best to start training early. There are ways to correct a jumping behavior though. Whether you're starting early or trying to fix the behavior later, it's important not to encourage or reinforce any problematic behavior - even negative attention will reinforce the behavior.
One of the best ways to deal with problematic jumping is to turn away. Ignoring your dog, avoiding eye contact and facing away will deny your dog the attention he or she is seeking. This will prevent reinforcement of the behavior. Once your dog has settled down, you can give him or her attention and praise, which reinforces the good greeting behavior.
Another option is to distract your dog. For instance, you can ask them to sit, which would encourage a different and more appropriate behavior for greeting. Make sure you're rewarding your dog with attention and praise when he or she does what you ask. This will teach your dog that jumping brings about nothing while sitting brings the attention he or she desires.
It's very important to be consistent with dogs. If you let them jump sometimes and not other times, they won't learn what behavior is appropriate. And always reward your pup when he or she does the proper behavior!