Judith C. of Connecticut wrote AKC for help with her German Shorthaired Pointer pup that loves jumping on people and the kitchen counter to steal food. Heather W. of Michigan said she is having the same issue with her pair of one-year-old Labrador Retrievers. Heather says, “We are constantly telling them to stay down and pushing them down. How do we get them to stay down and not jump on people?”
AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Paisley Lunchick provides some advice on positively working through both of these common problems.
Jumping on people and counters is fun for dogs, but not so much for their owners. There are two good ways to prevent both of these unwanted behaviors: management and training.
Jumping up on People
Management is the first step in any training plan. To manage your dog jumping up on people who enter your home, try installing baby gates to prevent your pup from having access to the front door. This way, you can keep him from jumping up and give him time to calm down before you greet your guests. Using a crate is also effective if your dog has been crate trained. Another option is to keep your dog on a leash when people come over. Pushing a dog off of a person is a natural reaction for some people, but it often turns into a fun game for the dog.
My recommended training plan to stop the dog from jumping up is to decide what you want him to do instead. I like my dogs to sit when they say hello and allow people to pet them. Practice asking your dog to sit and rewarding him with a treat each time he does it. Have other people in the house also help teach sit, under your supervision.
Have a friend or family member help you with this next part. Place your dog on leash, and ask him to sit. Keeping your dog on leash allows you to have a little more control if he gets too excited. Have the other person approach you at a slow walk. Repeat this exercise until your dog can stay sitting as the other person approaches. Reward your dog for his efforts — this is hard work!
Once your dog can stay in a sit while the other person approaches, you can practice having him stay in a sit while you shake hands with the person or while the person calmly pets him — which is probably what your dog wants anyway! Practice with as many people as possible. The next step will be to practice with your dog on leash as your helper enters through the door. Ask your dog to sit next to you as you open the door. If he stands up or tries to jump, have your guest leave and close the door. Try again, and when your dog is able to sit calmly as the person enters, give him a treat. When he can do that, practice off leash.
The end goal is to have your dog remain sitting while you open the door and your guest enters. You also want your canine companion to respond to the sit cue from other people.
Jumping up on counters, or counter-surfing, is a common problem. Management is key to teaching your dog to keep his paws to himself. It’s important to understand why dogs counter-surf in the first place: they want the food that’s up there. Counters are often covered in the tasty smells from last night’s dinner or this morning’s breakfast. Even more enticing are crumbs to taste or dirty dishes. Our dogs watch us make meals on the counters, and they naturally want to get in on the action. Also, many people often keep bread, dog treats, and other yummy things on their counters. When a dog is left unsupervised with access to the kitchen, it’s quite easy for him to be rewarded for counter-surfing without the owner even realizing it.
Step one in counter-surfing management is preventing access to the kitchen. This can be done by using baby gates, putting the dog in another room while you cook, or doing some boundary training. Step two is to keep your counters and sinks clear of any temptation. This is a lot harder than it sounds for a busy family. Wiping up after meals, keeping the sink clean of dishes, and storing edibles in cabinets will help keep your dog from getting unintentionally reinforced for investigating the counters. Offering enticing, safe chew toys outside of the kitchen is a good way to keep your canine companion’s attention focused elsewhere. Finally, you can teach your pup the “leave it” cue for those moments when he tries to make a move.
It takes time and consistency, but with a little extra training you can curb your dog’s pesky behaviors!
Our dogs are cherished members of the family, sharing our lives and providing unconditional love. But all dog owners know that our canine partners have different perspectives on life than we do.
If you have ever asked, “Why does my dog do that?” then this feature is for you. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline training team will answer your questions on dogs’ behavior and offer training advice to help you and your pup have the best relationship possible. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by professional dog trainers. For more information on the service and how to enroll, go to www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.