Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 23, 2010

What I Did When a Friend's Dog Jumped on Me

Posted at 03:20PM - Comments: (26)

As someone who works at home, I’m not required to dress up very often. I have exactly one pair of light khaki slacks that I’ll sometimes wear when trying to look nice – and it was these pants that, recently, a friend’s dog jumped all over about an hour before I had to have my picture taken.

And as a dog person, I’m accustomed to a certain amount of dog hair in my car and on my clothes. I vacuum the car before I carry passengers in the back seat (where my dog Otto sits) and carry a tape roller for taking hair off my clothes before going out to dinner or something. But that doesn’t mean I’m cheerful about having damp and dirty paws on me at any time! There are times I don’t want a dog to jump on me – my dog, or anybody’s!

And it brings up an awkward thing: what is the proper etiquette about being around a friend’s dog who is naughty? In the recent case, the next time the dog launched herself toward me, before she could jump on me again -- and without thinking -- I stomped my foot and clapped my hands and said No! And then I immediately felt like someone who had slapped another person’s child, as the formerly ebullient dog slunk away from me. My dog is fearful around people sometimes; what if someone had done that to him? It might have really set him back in the future! I still feel guilty about my unthinking response, but when it happened, I was still annoyed about those pants! Now, however, I wonder why I didn’t just turn away from the dog, like I would do with an untrained puppy. I am quite confident that my behavior was NOT an example of what one should do when a friend’s dog jumps on you.

How do you handle similar situations?

Comments (26)

Yep. Turn your back. But before the dog launches at you it is best to talk to the dog. If nothing else it helps to let the dog's person know that you don't want to be jumped on.
Another good idea is to have more than one set of "good clothes" :-)

Posted by: Jenny H | January 5, 2016 1:06 AM    Report this comment

I turn around and ignore the dog...don't meet his eyes or give him any recognition. And I feel so lucky that my Fido is just not a jumper because I know it takes some focused effort to get them out of that behavior.

Posted by: MuttLover | January 8, 2011 8:45 PM    Report this comment

Update. So, I went to the house today to walk the dogs. Scout was in his crate. I brought some treats in with me, showed them to him before opening the crate, and tossed them as he came out. Worked very well so he could focus that crazy energy on something productive, and at the same time would reward him for having 4 on the floor. While I was harnessing up her other dog, he tried to jump on my back a couple of times. A firm "ah" was all it took. I rewarded him heavily when he was being good (which was the entirety of the walk and playtime after). He was so much less persistent than before. I think his owner (who is a hobby trainer, BTW) is unconsciously reinforcing it. When I went over that day to visit and get the feel of the house, she, feeling bad about his jumping, kept hounding him, holding onto his collar, etc. That physical restraint (not to mention the relentless "off, "Scout!, OFF!") were totally feeding into the behavior. When I left that day he was literately vibrating wanting to jump. With her not there, he was totally different. Tried it once, realized that I wasn't a girl to mess with, and turned into a sweet, chill, mush of a dog. Interesting, very interesting....

Posted by: KAYLA D | October 19, 2010 12:11 PM    Report this comment

Great topic, Nancy. I've very recently been confronted with this issue. I just started dog walking for a good friend. I went over yesterday to get the feel of the house, where leashes are, etc. Her youngest dog, a 2 year old border collie mix she's had since he was a pup, is without a doubt the worst jumper I've ever seen. It's non-stop and totally obsessive.The whole time I was there he was jumping at me, whining when she has his collar and he couldn't, hurling himself at me on the coach. It's BAD! And I didn't know how to react well without offending her. I walk him for the first time tomorrow, and I'll have some one-on-one time to work with him and see what works best. I'm still deciding what my tactic will be, I love the idea of the treat tossing, I'll definitely have to give that a go. I still need a better reaction than just turning around when he does jump, he is far too persistant and the habit has been rewarded way to long for that to be an option. He's a pretty bold dog, so I'm not really worried about making him scared of me. Right now I'm thinking I might try a penny can (not hiting him, of course) or perhaps a squirt bottle in the face. At least initially, to start making him think about the right way to greet, because right now he isn't in a thinking state when he meets new people, it's total obsessive self-rewarding behavior that's been manifesting for two years. Well, I guess we'll see tomorrow :)

Posted by: KAYLA D | October 18, 2010 8:28 PM    Report this comment

I have to admit that it actually is comforting to know that even fabulous, top-notch trainers make mistakes once in awhile. Although my sharing isn't involving jumping on dogs, I'm feeling guilty about something I did (or neglected to do) with my dog this afternoon at lunch, and your blog reminded me what we are all human and make mistakes once in awhile. I was meeting a friend for lunch. I live in a very dog-friendly town and really take a lot of pride that I can take my dog almost anywhere and he is exceptionally well mannered. I can't take all the credit, as he was bred by Guide Dogs for the Blind - although he was career changed 5 years ago.

Anyhow, I got there first and was just getting him situated at an outdoor table when my friend came up to greet me. I started to hug her before I told him "down" and "stay". In the middle of the hug, a man at the next door table started telling me to get my dog away (luckily, not too loudly). To my horror, Sanchez was putting his nose near the man's food. It was completely my fault and I apologized profusely. Fortunately, he was very understanding and Sanchez settled as soon as I paid some attention to him. I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that dog friendly businesses stay dog friendly. If there is one thing I've learned about messing up dog training though it is that you always get another chance.

Posted by: LisaSpector | September 6, 2010 8:43 PM    Report this comment

I love Amee A's suggestion, I think it will work if the dog is food motivated. I suspect dogs jump up to be near our mouths, as puppies lick adult dogs' mouths, to encourage the adult to vomit dinner (yuck/smile). So be proactive and feed them before they try lick your face. Ask the owner if it's ok first to be prepared, and toss cubes of cheese off to the side. I believe even much-domesticated dogs still think lip greeting/food sharing. A friend's two-year-old neutered Maltese began to salivate when first meeting the tiny (I mean tiny!) new puppy next door. The concerned owner called, worried the dog was thinking about eating the pup! I reassured her that I thought the dog was thinking "he's such a cute puppy, I should throw up a snack for him." Sure enough, the owner called later to report that she had given her adult dog a delicious piece of pure chicken, the adult dog chewed and chewed and then spat it out for the puppy to eat (too cute, wish they had it on video.) Give food tossing a try, with the owner's permission, of course.

Posted by: Linda C | September 5, 2010 2:09 PM    Report this comment

This is on another subject. I just found out that My Vet will "
price match". I have three Rottweilers - one that I just rescued - so I need to save whenever and wherever I can. I looked at 1800 Pet Meds on line for Interceptor (Heartworm prevention).
When I called my Vet's office to request a prescription so that I could take advantage of the better pricing, I was told that they would match the price as long as I bring in a copy of the offer. Boy, I wish I had known that along time ago. I wanted to share this for others who might be able to also tet a better price from the Vet. Rochelle

Posted by: Rochelle | August 30, 2010 2:32 PM    Report this comment

I have to say that I think it's expecting way too much of guests/friends to ask them to turn away when a dog jumps, etc. I dislike it when I see that advice given to owners because it makes their friends not want to come over at all if they're trying to come visit you and suddenly they're on the hook to shape your dog's behavior (who wants muddy paws on their backside any more than they want it on their front side?). On the subject of what to do about a friend's jumping dog, I have this issue too-- and I avoid going to that friend's house. I hate it when her dog is all over me (and her dog smells bad, too). So rather than risk the friendship, I just avoid going to her house at all. If I knew I had to go there, I'd bring a leash, hand it to her, and ask her to tether him so he won't jump on me.

Posted by: DIANE B | August 26, 2010 11:51 AM    Report this comment

Hi everyone! I think I didn't express this correctly. It's true that there are 1001 ways to keep a dog from jumping up...my point was, what if it's not your dog? I really don't think we have the right to train other people's dogs without permission, especially if the tactic taken would scare or alarm the -- much less hurt them! I'd go crazy if someone -- even a friend -- hit or scared my dog. (Of course, I don't think my dog would be jumping on someone, but that's getting off track again.) How do you tell a good friend that you *really* don't want his dog jumping on you (or barking at you, or climbing into your lap, or whatever) without getting his hackles up or damaging your friendship? -- Nancy Kerns, Editor

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | August 25, 2010 10:08 AM    Report this comment

I will just add another old obedience class tactic that works pretty well. When a dog approaches me with that jumping look in her eye I just put my hands slightly together palms down and place them directly over the dog's head. If the dog jumps she is jumping into the barrier of your hands. In just about every case the dog looks up, sees the hand "roof" and stops. At the same time I say "Off" of just "Sit". Follow this up with a treat. Have found this tactic very effective with pups and adult dogs and it does not create negative vibes for the dog.

Posted by: MARGARET M | August 25, 2010 9:37 AM    Report this comment

One of the fastest ways to teach your dog not to jump on folks is to toss some yummy treats on the ground as the people approach. The dog looks down to eat the treats and the approaching person gets in close to say hello and pet the dog WHILE the dog still has 4 feet on the floor. Now the dog is getting reinforced for doing the right thing. Because the new person is now close enough to be in contact with the dog, the dog doesn't need to jump up.

As for dealing with someone else's dog...sigh. You just have to be pro-active and interrupt the behavior before it happens. Asking for some other behavior? Yelling "No" might work, but as the questioner pointed out, it isn't really nice and could create problems in a soft dog. Holding the dog, when it's someone else's dog, or kneeing the dog are invitations to get yourself biten, IMHO.

Posted by: Amee A | August 25, 2010 8:06 AM    Report this comment

A "friend" swiftly put her knee into his chest when my cattle dog jumped up to greet her - her strong knee in the chest sent him flying across the room. He disappeared for the rest of her visit. So I guess that taught him what to do when she arrives. I've worked with him on an excellent sit that he does when someone comes in. This is something positive for him as I reward him verbally and with a nose kiss and he's very good doing what he knows to do, "Sit!" I've never understood what the command "off" would mean to a dog since it's a command to not do something as opposed to a command to do something.

Posted by: LENORE S | August 25, 2010 12:10 AM    Report this comment

i tend toward the quieter approach, the turn and ignore that Victoria Stillwell teaches; once when i worked in a doggy daycare they used BarkBusters techniques which i found very aggitating, constantly saying "Bah" loudly and stamping forward toward the dog, i think it works but results in a dog possibly being fearful
i also do not like to be licked so personally i would not want to train a dog to lick while being petted
i have also seen dogs who will jump up but not on, not sure if those dogs were taught or developed it on their own but it was fine

Posted by: Rachel S | August 24, 2010 10:28 PM    Report this comment

We have a dog who is bouncy by nature. He just can't seem to keep all four feet on the ground when he's excited. My husband found him and his brother when they were just 5 weeks old so when he was growing up we taught him that it's okay to jump as long as his feet don't touch anybody. So he jumps around beside people but he never jumps on them or on us. It's kind of cute to see and not hard to teach.

Posted by: dogs5cats10 | August 24, 2010 8:47 PM    Report this comment

This method was suggested at an obedience class I attended with my Doberman and it seemed to work pretty well. When the dog jumps toward you bump it lightly with your right knee.

Posted by: Tommie D. C | August 24, 2010 5:45 PM    Report this comment

This method of correction is one that I learned years ago in an obedience class, and it works for me very quickly. It doesn't harm or scare the dog, it just leaves an impression because of the surprise. Encourage your dog to jump up and plant his/her front paws on you. Instantly grab both paws, and walk quickly forward toward him/her for a few steps. This forces him/her to move backwards and lose his/her balance. Then stop suddenly while simply releasing the paws and say "OFF!" Do not push, as s/he will fall under his/her own weight and momentum. Sometimes s/he will land with a sound of surprise or grunt. You can repeat this method by encouraging him/her to jump up on you as many times as needed until s/he understands and will not jump up on you. Then you should positively reinforce him/her to come and sit quietly in front of you when called. Test the "OFF" training at random times, and reward you dog for resisting the jump-up. Have other willing people help train your dog in this manner also. If you want to use this method when visiting others with a jumping dog, be sure to let the owners know ahead of time so that they are prepared. Better yet, teach it to them!

Posted by: DEBRA M | August 24, 2010 4:51 PM    Report this comment

This method of correction is one that I learned years ago in an obedience class, and it works for me very quickly. It doesn't harm or scare the dog, it just leaves an impression because of the surprise. Encourage your dog to jump up and plant his/her front paws on you. Instantly grab both paws, and walk quickly forward toward him/her for a few steps. This forces him/her to move backwards and lose his/her balance. Then stop suddenly while simply releasing the paws and say "OFF!" Do not push, as s/he will fall under his/her own weight and momentum. Sometimes s/he will land with a sound of surprise or grunt. You can repeat this method by encouraging him/her to jump up on you as many times as needed until s/he understands and will not jump up on you. Then you should positively reinforce him/her to come and sit quietly in front of you when called. Test the "OFF" training at random times, and reward you dog for resisting the jump-up. Have other willing people help train your dog in this manner also. If you want to use this method when visiting others with a jumping dog, be sure to let the owners know ahead of time so that they are prepared. Better yet, teach it to them!

Posted by: DEBRA M | August 24, 2010 4:51 PM    Report this comment

Whenever I'm in the presence of dogs that are not my own I make it a habit of getting down on their level immediately. So right away I crouch down to greet them or let them come and greet me. It puts you eye to eye with them and when you're on their level they don't feel the need to jump on you.

Posted by: dogs5cats10 | August 24, 2010 2:18 PM    Report this comment

I try to catch them when they are about 5-3ft in front of me... as they are bombing in preparing to jump, I take a step forward, raise my hand (bending my elbow, as if I were cupping their chin and raising it) in a sit signal, and say Sit! Even if they don't sit, it usually causes them to hit the brakes and slows them down as they get to me. I can then bend down to pat them BEFORE they jump on me. It's a preventative measure that usually gets their (and the owners) attention, and I can pat them when all four are on the floor.

Posted by: PAMELA B | August 24, 2010 12:55 PM    Report this comment

In his service dog capacity, my dog never jumps on people or barks, etc. When people (rarely) come to my (isolated) house, however, he will bark and bark--and when people stoop, he puts front paws up. Have found if I step outside AND LET HIM OUT TOO, he lies quietly. Eventually I must move to town for safety, so I am worried about re-training. For now, I want to be alerted to people, timers, etc.--but i can foresee close neighbors hating us. Unsure how and when to re-train.

Posted by: Harriet B | August 24, 2010 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Our dog Kayla used to be this way, but we trained her to lick the person's hand, versus jumping up. We would turn our back to her, not say a word, and then put our our hand for her to lick. Now, she no longer jumps up on people. Well, that is unless they rile her up to play, and those few people are ok with it and expect it.

Kayla will lick the hand of the person, and then sit politely, waiting for a greeting from the person. She will still lick their hand(s) when being greeted, and all is well. It is all about being diligent in what you want your dog to do. Sometimes telling the dog "off" or "down" will just give them a reason to continue to jump up, as you are speaking to them and "rewarding" them for jumping. You just paid attention to the dog by saying one word.

I know that a lot of people do not want to be licked by a dog, but it is much easier to wash your hand if you don't like it, than to have filty pants or worse, torn pants by dogs who don't get their nails cut often. I have had that happen to me by small dogs.

Posted by: Therapy Dog Mom | August 24, 2010 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I have a dog that is very persistant on jumping on others. She is 4 years old and I have tried everything on her. She doesn't jump on me, I don't have issues with it, with me. I have to work extra hard with her when others approach her on leash, all to while hold my two other dogs. All my dogs are social when it comes to people. I also work at a Dog Daycare and notice she does it too with my co-workers. I would encourage anyone to stand in their dog leadership role and prevent her from doing the bad habit. I think if you appear as a push over when it comes to dogs jumping on you, it is going to happen, especially with the dogs that are very persistant. I am not recommending any hitting or kicking, but try all the methods that are possible to preventing it from happening. I am working on it on my end, most of the time, I just have to step on the leash to the point where she is has to stay in a sit or down position. I do realize that all people do not know all the corrective actions. So, I have just have to work harder to restrain her.

Posted by: casye72 | August 23, 2010 11:20 PM    Report this comment

Lately imhave been trying to lean into the dognasnPatrixia McConnell suggests. I'm notnsure how effective in find it, my dogs don't jump much. But I just suggested it to a client and will see how much success she has.

Posted by: NADJA P | August 23, 2010 10:33 PM    Report this comment

I usually ask the people to turn thier backs to him and not give im any eye contaact or any verbal communication. The dog is looking for attention adn when you look at him or speak to him, even to yekll NO!, Get Down! That is still attention. Once he figures out, hey they ain't giving me what I want then he will sit and wait for praise. It takes a long time but evenually he won't be jumping on anobody again.

Posted by: Chelsea E | August 23, 2010 5:08 PM    Report this comment

My instinct would have been to do the quick swivel away. I don't think you should feel badly about your reaction, though. It was your friend's responsibility to control the dog, and your friend is the one who dropped the ball.

Posted by: grifftan | August 23, 2010 3:58 PM    Report this comment

This was probably my dog,Fridley, sorry to say. I've been working on this problem for 6 years (I've owned him for 6 years now), and it's a strongly self-reinforcing behavior. He actually hugs people, not random jumping up. I would be fine with your reaction to him (stomping, clapping and loudly saying no), or with people turning around, shouting "off." Anything except hitting or kicking him.... I ask him to sit, or repeat the command "off." Or both.

Posted by: Unknown | August 23, 2010 3:48 PM    Report this comment

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