One of the most common problems my clients ask about is their puppy jumping and nipping. If you’ve ever had a young puppy, you know that some of their behaviors can be very frustrating and concerning, especially if your dog is a larger breed. Maybe you’ve adopted an adult dog from a shelter or rescue and are having the same concerns. Chances are your new dog has never been taught how to curb those urges. They may have actually been encouraged!
In puppies, jumping and nipping is normal behavior. Puppies are still learning the ways of our world. They explore the world with their mouth and they are teething. Just like human babies, they need something safe to chew on that will help soothe their gums. Jumping is usually caused from attention seeking or excitement. To correct these behaviors, you can try any of these methods or combine them.
- Ignore him. Hold your hands up to avoid getting nipped and to take away temptation from your pup. Stand still like a statue and look away from your dog. You can also turn around with your back to your dog. Make sure you have a wall in front of you so your dog can’t come back around and jump on you. Because dogs communicate through body language, the dog understands this as “you will not receive attention until you stop that behavior.”
- Teach your dog to “Sit”. If he jumps or nips, have him “Sit”. Reward immediately with a treat or petting. If he jumps up again, ignore again until all 4 feet are on the floor or “Sit” and reward again. Repeat as many times as needed. Giving an alternate behavior is better than just saying “off” or “no”. If you just say “off”, he may get off you, but then he thinks, “OK, what do you want me to do now?”
- Toss a treat or toy on the floor. You may ask, “Isn’t this a reward for jumping/nipping?” Tossing a treat or toy redirects the dog and says to him, “Hey! There’s something better on the floor than jumping and nipping me!” You can incorporate a queue when you toss a treat. You can use “Off” or “4 on the Floor”.
- Always have a toy on hand. If the dog is nipping or using his mouth during play, show him what IS appropriate to play with. Exchange your hand for a toy and play with him! Never Ever allow a dog to play with your hand. Always use a toy during playtime.
- Keep Frozen Toys on hand. For puppies that are teething, be sure to keep plenty of frozen chew toys on hand to give him- frozen Kongs, frozen rings, etc.
NEVER PUSH YOUR DOG OFF OF YOU. When you throw your hands up or push at your dog, he will think you are playing. Although this is a normal reaction, if you’ve ever done it you’ve probably wondered why your dog comes back for more? 😉
Jumping on Guests
When you know you are having visitors, place your dog behind a baby gate in your bedroom or place in a pen. Instruct visitors to ignore your dog until he is quiet and laying down or at minimum he has four paws on the floor. You or the visitor can go over immediately when your dog is quiet and calmly pet or reward with a treat. If at any time he jumps up or begins to act excited, stop petting and ignore again until he calms. If you have an unexpected visitor, ask them to wait to enter the house. Move your dog calmly to a room behind a gate or to a pen before letting them inside.