Help! The Dog Is Jumping on Guests

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This question is about my “granddog,” who is a male standard poodle. I adore him and the feeling is mutual. However, to show his affection, he jumps up to greet me, and his 80 pounds makes for a lot of greeting! He often makes me almost lose balance completely, and his paws mark my arms. What can we do without being cruel to curb this behavior?

It does sound like you have a rambunctious pooch on your hands. The reason your grandpup is jumping is that he’s eager to see you and meet visitors, and he has been allowed to do this in the past.

The great news is that poodles are fast learners, so with some training sessions at home, your granddog should master good manners soon.

I would suggest a training approach that has two main components:

1. Don’t Reward the Jumping
The poodle’s reward has been having contact and attention from the person on whom he is jumping. Don’t give him this pleasure. If he jumps up, simply turn your body away before he can get his paws on you. Walk away if he persists. Don’t talk to him and don’t look at him. When he is calm, praise and talk to him using a quiet voice. You are teaching him that jumping won’t get him the attention he craves.

2. Teach An Alternate Behavior
Keep in mind that your dog can’t do two things at the same time. He clearly loves jumping up on you, but when he’s got his paws on your shoulders, it means he’s not eating treats or doing something else he enjoys. The goal then is to train what we call “incompatible behaviors,” actions that he can’t do successfully if he is knocking you down at the doorway. If you teach him well, the dog will begin responding to the new directive rather than indulging his desire to jump.

Start by teaching the dog to sit, as even the most talented canine can’t jump and sit at the same time. As soon as his rear touches the floor, give him a treat. Make this a game, moving around the room to ensure he will sit anywhere, anytime you give the sit command. Practice this near the door where the jumping occurs.

When the dog has a reliable sit, ask an obliging friend to play the role of the visitor. When the “visitor” knocks on the door, you tell the dog to sit, give him a treat to reward the sit, and then open the door. This will take practice, but if you keep rewarding the sit, the pooch should be able to learn this in several sessions and be counted upon to sit when directed.

Other commands we use with dogs that jump on people are “get on the couch,” or “get on your bed.” When there is a knock at the door, the dog is taught to go to another place until released to say hello to the visitor. This can be effective, but I like the sit behavior because it can also be used to meet someone when out for a walk.

Give both of these training strategies a try and let us know how it goes. Your granddog is lucky that you adore him and are willing to work with him on his manners.