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How can I prevent my Labrador Retriever from jumping on people?

This is a very common problem experienced by many Labrador Retriever owners. Labradors are a naturally active, affectionate breed, and do tend to frequently become over-excited. This can result in jumping, when a dog is seeking to convey its excitement by showering someone in doggy love. Unfortunately, as Labrador Retrievers are a medium-large breed of dog, this can be an uncomfortable and painful experience. Though it may be difficult to discourage this behavior, as you are trying to prevent your dog from showing a form of affection, it can be accomplished. Training your dog not to jump on other people will require a lot of patience, diligence, and responsibility.

THE REASON BEHIND JUMPING

In your dog’s eyes, jumping up is actually a form of extreme submission. This may seem odd to us humans, but in reality, your dog is just trying to be respectful. Our dogs usually see us as the dominant “head of household”, and will engage in jumping as a greeting. Your dog is actually trying to engage in “submissive greeting behavior”, but the jumping is involved since you are so much taller than your dog is. Your dog is not trying to attack or harm you, simply trying to portray affection in the instinctual way of wild dogs. Though this may be flattering, it is nonetheless recommended to discourage this behavior.

REINFORCEMENTS TO JUMPING

Since jumping is a submissive behavior, punishing your dog for jumping can actually have a reverse effect. With the punishment, your dog will feel the need to be even more submissive, and may increase the frequency and enthusiasm of their jumping. Many people will reflexively raise their knee to “block” the jumping dog, which may actually hurt your dog. This will also have a reverse effect, as inducing pain on a dog will cause it to attempt to be even more submissive, to discourage further punishment. It’s also detrimental to squeeze your dog’s paws, give them a spank, or any other sort of behavior that induces a pain response.

In addition, a positive response to jumping can be damaging as well. Some people (usually fellow dog owners) may pet your dog when they jump up, in response to their extreme excitement. Children may hug or try to wrestle with your dog, taking advantage of the excitable atmosphere. Though this may be fun, it is actually reinforcing the jumping behavior as a part of greetings and playtime.

WAYS TO DISCOURAGE OR PREVENT JUMPING BEHAVIOR

IGNORE
This is a popular technique to discourage jumping behavior in your dog. When your dog begins jumping, do not respond in any way. In fact, try not to even move. Become a “tree”. Do not look at your dog, and try not to speak at all. Try to keep your eyes completely averted, and turn your face away. This will help your dog to understand that jumping up creates this behavior, and does not result in any sort of interaction. It may take several tries before they successfully learn this, but be persistent. Eventually, your dog will refrain from jumping, as they do not wish to be ignored.

TURN AWAY
This tactic requires very good timing! As soon as your dog seems about to jump, quickly turn your body to the side. This will avert the jumping, and your dog will land with all four paws on the floor. If they run around to face you, and attempt to jump again, repeat this tactic. It may be several minutes before your dog gets the hint, and stops jumping. When they do, give them a lot of praise.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Instead of punishing your dog for jumping, it is much more effective to instead reward them for not jumping. When your dog ceases jumping, wait several seconds, and then give them a treat as well as a lot of praise. Repeat this behavior every time your dog greets you, and eventually this will reinforce that “not jumping” is a situation that warrants rewards. Though it may take several times before your dog learns, try to be patient.

USE OTHER COMMANDS
The next time your dog begins jumping, try to implement one of the simple commands, such as the “sit” command. If they do not obey, ignore then, and repeat the command. Eventually, when they stop jumping (and if they have not listened to your commands) use the “sit” command again, and give them a large amount of praise and treat rewards.

This can also be used in combination with the “Turn Away” tactic against jumping. When you turn away from your dog, and when your dog has all four paws on the floor, try to immediately implement a command. This will help your dog to instead obey the command, and prevent future jumping.

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