Stop Jumping At The Front Door


Ask most dog owners one thing they'd like to change in their dog? Jumping at the door - on them and on guests. 

This can be a challenging behaviour to change if your dog has been doing it for a long time but it can be done.
You need the co-operation of the entire family.  It's confusing if some allow jumping and some don't. The way I get around that is to teach my dog to jump on cue: "hugs". I don't teach that until the jumping is under control though.

How to change this behaviour? First understand why it's happening. All behaviour occurs because it works to get something the dog wants. Your dog jumps, you reach down and touch him, tell him he's awesome and gaze lovingly into his eyes. All three are reinforcers. The dog gets attention.

Your dog jumps, you reach down to shove him off, while saying "bad dog, don't jump", you stare angrily into his eyes. All three are reinforcers. The dog gets attention.

The first thing is to remove the reinforcer. Once you make the decision to change the behaviour, the family has to agree to a few rules.

There are two key elements to consider once you make the decision to change your dog’s jumping behaviour.

1)  You need to prevent the behaviour from occurring while you are training a new one. 

2) You need to decide what you want your dog to do instead and train it such as:

•        Go to mat

•        Go to crate

•        Grab a toy

•        Sit and wait to be released to say hi

 It’s also important to remember why is he jumping in the first place? He wants to say hi, sniff the pheromones emitting from your mouth and possibly get a butt scratch ☺

All great reasons but we want to teach him to say hi without jumping. We want to say hi to our dogs when we get home. Acknowledge the dogs desire to greet but do so calmly.

One of the techniques I use to greet dogs other than puppies, is to anticipate. I gently hold the collar and stroke the length of the dog’s body, from shoulder to tail, calmly. My hand in the collar prevents the dog from jumping in my face and the side stroke is calming. Note: I am not forcing or holding the dog down.

 Prevention can be done in a number of ways, depending on your house and its set up. 

•        Use a crate, ex-pen, confinement area, tether or baby gates to prevent the dog from getting to the front door. 

•        Keep your greetings low key, If you are over excited and high pitched in speech every time you enter the house, so will your dog. 

•        Ideally your dog is not near the front door, but if he is, make sure you do not give any attention whatsoever if he should jump. No looking, no talking, no touching. If possible move back or away so he cannot make contact with your body. I don’t suggest simply turning your back and standing still as the dog is still gets reinforced when his paws are on you.

Whenever you tell your dog he cannot do something, it’s important to let him know what he can to. In this case, no attention for jumping, but 4 paws on the floor means he can say hi.

My rule of thumb is, if I am on the floor you can jump or crawl over me to say hi. When I am standing, it’s 4 paws on the floor or sit. 

You need to make your own rules. Before you say you don’t mind if your dog jumps when you get home to say hi, remember: your dog is learning a behaviour pattern at the front door. He will not distinguish between you, your guests, little old Aunt Ida, when you are dressed up for an event or any other time you don’t want him to jump.

It’s necessary to set up training sessions, gradually increasing criteria until it’s a learned behaviour which has been generalized to many people and environments.

 •        train the behaviour you do want – sit/down/fetch/crate/mat, etc., 

•        practice with family members. Ensure everyone follows the rules you have set up – no attention.

•        introduce guests gradually. Ensure they understand the rules and are willing to apply them.

An easy way to set up practice situations is to Invite family or friends for dinner but have them arrive at different times: some at 5:30 pm, some at 6:00 pm, some at 6:30 pm, some at 7:00 pm. You have 4 opportunities to practice polite greetings! Often, by the time the 3rd or 4th guest has arrived, it’s no big deal and the dog settles faster.