This article is part of our Labrador training library and looks at all the options for curing jumping up.
We recommend our favourite.
He’s just playing
An adult Labrador can weigh 70 – 80lbs or more.
However much you may appreciate his paws on your shoulders, the chances are, your friends and relatives may be less enthusiastic.
“He’s just playing” will wear thin as he gets bigger.
So why do so many Labrador owners let their dogs carry on leaping all over visitors, scratching their bare arms, knocking over their toddlers, and ruining their clothes?
Jumping up can be very difficult to stop using traditional methods.
This is because these methods rely on some kind of action or reaction from the person being jumped on.
The ‘knee in the chest’ approach
A popular traditional method for stopping dogs jumping up requires the person being jumped on, to lift up his knee. This means that the dog meets a pointy object instead of your nice soft tummy when he hurtles toward you.
The problems with this method are firstly that for most people it is a natural reaction not just to raise the knee, but actually to use momentum and push the dog in the chest with their knee. With a smaller dog this can actually cause injury.
With a larger one it hurts your knee! It also looks undignified and unbalances the person being jumped on so they are more likely to fall over when the dog collides with them.
Generally speaking, getting involved in a physical tussle whilst training your dog is never a good idea. However these are not the main reasons for rejecting this method. The main reason is that to be successful it depends on the dog getting the same response no matter whom it jumps on.
This is fraught with difficulty.
Is your two year old nephew going to oblige? What about your granny who thinks that getting up close and personal with your Labrador balanced on her chest is the best fun she has all week. A training method that can’t be used in many situations is not much use at all.
The ‘house-line’ approach
A much better traditional approach is the ‘house line’. The boisterous culprit wears a short training lead everywhere he goes whilst indoors. Every time he jumps up on you or a visitor, he is told ‘NO’ and if necessary the houseline can be grasped firmly to enable you to correct him and detach him from your visitor.
It is much easier to manipulate a wriggling dog wearing a house-line than one wearing just a collar.
Persistent correction wears the dog down over time, and he eventually learns to behave himself. But, like the previous method, this one is more about correction, than reward. And many people get bored and give up before they get a result.
What we are looking for in modern dog training is a way to reward the dog for doing the right thing, rather than a way to correct him for doing the wrong one. And a method that doesn’t take all year, and alienate our friends into the bargain.
Ignoring the dog
Some trainers will recommend that you simply ignore the dog when he jumps up. It is true to say, that the dog will stop carrying out a behaviour that is completely unrewarded.
The problem with jumping up is that A) the dog find it quite rewarding just doing it, even if you ignore him completely, B) it is quite difficult to ignore 80lbs of labrador when he greets you after a swim, and C) it is impossible to ensure that everyone he does it to will ignore him.
For some reason best known to themselves, there are people out there who enjoy being embraced by a large wet dog, and will make a big fuss of him when he jumps up, no matter what you say.
The clicker approach
The clicker method for curing jumping up teaches the dog to keep his paws on the ground whenever a visitor arrives and at other times too. It is highly effective and no physical ‘wrestling’ with the dog is involved. The best way to illustrate this method is with a video, and this one below from Kikopup is excellent
This video is from the Kikopup Youtube channel, and Kikopup has lots of other fun videos which will help you train your dog without any force.
We strongly recommend this clicker solution to your jumping up problem. Let us know if you have any other suggestions or questions about the method.
Find out more about your dog’s behaviour
If you would like to find out more about how dogs think and learn, and to improve your ability to influence your dog in many different ways, check out my new ebook: How to Win at Dog Training
This article was written by Pippa Mattinson. Pippa’s recall training book: Total Recall A complete recall training programme for dogs and puppies is available in bookshops and online.
The Labrador Site is brought to you by Pippa Mattinson. Pippa's latest book The Happy Puppy Handbook is a definitive guide to early puppy care and training