Dear Deborah: Our dog, Molly, jumps on everyone. We tell her down, and she jumps up again. The more you yell, the more she jumps. When we try to knee her in the chest she gets even more wild. She’s only 60 pounds, but she’s fast and hits hard.
Last week, she sent my mother flying when she came to visit for Sunday dinner. The cake she bought went flying. Food spilled everywhere. My mother fell to the floor and Molly ate the cake. Please help. – Jumping Mad
Dear Jumping Mad: The reason Molly jumps more if you yell at her is she really believes that all this yelling and jumping about is part of showing love to the people she’s greeting.
Long ago, when Molly was a pup, someone, somewhere at sometime rewarded her for jumping up. The yelling and scolding was added to the routine greeting, but, again, the scolder gave in to her charms and cuddled her anyway.
Jumping up has always led to positive consequences or no consequences at all. Yelling, kneeing and all the other negative reaction you gave her made no difference because she was not at anytime shown what to do instead.
Next time people come over, have a leash on Molly. Command her to sit, and enforce the sit command using the leash for control. Praise her for the sit, and open the door to your guests. If she stays in a sit position, invite them to come in, and reach down and pet her. If she jumps up, scold her, “no off,” then command her to “sit” and praise her when she does. Allow her to greet your guests in a sit position only.
If she is defiant, continually jumping up, march her away from the guests, to sit in a room (or kennel) by herself. After 20 minutes, go to her and ask her to be quiet and sit. If she’s good, bring her out to try once again to greet the guests in a sit. If she blows it, march her right back into isolation
If you insist that she must always greet in a sit or not greet at all, she will learn quickly. When they are gone, practice sit drills and release her when she’s good.
To increase the learning speed, make her sit to receive all the perks she loves, like meals, treats and cuddles. Always praise a good sit.
When you come home yourself, and she jumps all over you, turn your back and ignore her. Give her no attention until she’s willing to listen to you. She really believes that all this yelling and jumping about is part of showing love to the people she’s greeting.