The following was written and submitted by Neil Copeland of Seven Lakes Kennels.
I would like to continue talking about puppies and their first behaviors. As new puppy owners, we are always shaping behavior.
Jumping is a behavior that becomes extremely rewarding early and will stay with our pets for their entire life or until the elder years when joints can handle it anymore. Let us talk about the jumping behavior and some tips to help with it.
Jumping starts early and sneaks in quickly. When we greet our puppies and they run up to us we greet them arms wide open, high pitched voice and a lot of animation. Before you say well what is wrong with that, I say nothing at all. We should show them that we are happy to see them too.
Here is the catch, when the puppy starts jumping all over your leg and you start scratching his head, he is being rewarded for all that fun. As simple as that!! Rewarding happens without us even thinking about it.
There are different means to preventing jumping. Preventing jumping is difficult but being consistent with petting or rewarding (same as giving a pet) is the key to shaping when and how they get love is one that can be effective early on.
The best time to reward is when all four feet are on the ground. Ignoring the behavior can only work in these initial stages and will work for the puppy that can put two plus two equals four together. Not all puppies can do that early on but all of them enjoy good scratch on the head. So, keep in mind when you are rewarding and anticipate when to give that love because it can have some many meanings.
Stopping the jumping behavior is a process not an event. After the puppy has grown and the jumping behavior is solid is probably one of the most common issues I listen to. The common process that happens without any warning is rewarding the jumping as a puppy and then quickly moves into having a lack of obedience as an adult. A proper sit with accountability can have a real impact in stopping the behavior.
The puppy now finds a conditioned process of jumping, owner saying down with a verbal good boy and then a head scratch. This is a process that happens over and over. If I were to do something, I thought was so much fun then told I was a good boy for doing it, then I would do it all the time. Well, heck that is how we learn. What makes you think things are different, IT IS A CONDITIONED PROCESS!! By getting more control through obedience and stopping the conditioned process is key.
I recommend finding a trainer to help with that dreaded greeting when you come into the door or when company comes over. Not all techniques work for each pup. However, like mentioned above it starts the moment you bring your puppy home and knowing when to reward and not.