ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Quick Fix for a Jumping Dog

Payal Saraf's Bulldog Pumba is jumping on everyone who comes in the house, and has begun growling and snapping when corrected or restrained. Payal, being new to clicker training, asks for ideas on how to handle this and change Pumba's behavior.

Payal, here's a "clicker solution" which can be a "quick fix", and if you are consistent, the jumping behaviors should change almost immediately. You will NOT have to step on his toes, bonk him on the head, holler "NO NO!" or add any kind of physical punisher to get the behavior you want.

It helps to look at it differently. Instead of thinking about what you don't want to see, think about what you DO want to see. You want to see him do what? Keep four on the floor instead of jumping? Good! This is an easy behavior to shape.

Here's how I shape this behavior shift, and I have never had it fail me. Perhaps it will help you.

Basically, forget ADDING anything when a dog is stressing. All the "NO NO!" and verbal reprimands become just "noise" to the dog who is stressed. Instead, take something away. Take away what the dog wants most: ATTENTION! Yes, jumping up is an excited, attention-seeking behavior.

To change the behavior, simply remove all attention while the dog is jumping up on you or anyone else. Just turn your back on the dog, make no eye contact, don't reach down to pet it, don't holler, just totally turn into a tree and ignore the dog.

Watch closely from your peripheral vision, and the MOMENT your dog puts 4 paws on the floor, give him what he wants: attention, petting. Maybe a treat. You can use the clicker and CLICK the moment those paws hit the floor and stay there a few moments, then deliver a treat: again, deliver the treat while the dog has paws on the floor, don't let him jump up on you to get the treat.

Dogs are learning every moment of the day, whether we are teaching them on purpose or not. Dogs jump because they have been rewarded for jumping in the past. Remember, that even negative attention is attention, and something the dog covets.

So start by going out of your house and setting the dog up for success to learn what you DO want, rather than what you don't want. Take clicker and treats with you, and come back 10 minutes later.

Enter the door and when the dog jumps on you, ignore him totally. Turn your back. But the moment he stops jumping up, puts 4 on the floor, and looks up at you with confusion--MARK THAT MOMENT with a click and deliver a treat, and pet the dog, talk to the dog--give the attention it seeks.

Dog jumps back up, (he will), just repeat the process. Basically, you just never, never give the dog attention while it's doing the behavior you don't want.

And the same thing for guests. Instruct guests before they arrive to come it, ingore the dog, and don't even LOOK at the dog until his paws are solidly on the ground.

You may have to do several set-ups of this with friends who come to visit. But normally, this is so effective it takes just a couple of days to get it to be a new behavior.

The secret is consistency. If sometimes the dog is rewarded for jumping (gets the attention), then the behavior will become stronger. This is called "variable reinforcement" and it's a powerful thing.

It works like the slot machine: we put our quarters in though we know we won't always get a payoff every single time, but we have before, and we know we eventually will again, so we keep putting in those quarters.

Each time your dog successfully jumps up on you and you reinforce it, you are in effect greatly strengthening the behavior, just like the slot machine.

You will be amazed at how fast this works!

Now, once you have the dog remaining on the floor and not jumping, it's great to teach another behavior for him to do. Like "sit" or "go lie on your mat". You can even teach the doorbell's ring as a cue for performing that incompatible behavior. (incompatible with jumping up, that is!)

There is a wonderful video you may want to pick up by one of our listmembers, Dr. Deborah Jones, called "Click and Fix" which really goes through all sorts of problem behaviors you're likely to see during the life of your dog, and how to proactively change them to what you do want. It's a terrific video, and worth its weight in gold. It can be ordered from or I'm not sure it's availble in PAL format yet, but Do check and see--it's worth the effort. This is a GREAT tape, and I highly recommend it for pet owners!

Debi Davis
copyright 2000 Debi Davis


| Training Articles Contents || Site Home |

Copyright of all posts is the property of the original author. Please obtain permission from the original author before copying, quoting, or forwarding.

List and Site Owner: Melissa Alexander, mca @