A common behavior issue that many Australian Cattle Dog owners face is their dog jumping up on them or other people. This behavior can be frustrating for you and can cause you embarrassment when they jump up on other people.
Your dog can also unintentionally cause harm or injury to you or someone else. If they are jumping up on small children or elderly people they can easily knock them over. If they do knock someone over they may think it is a game and get even more excited.
Even if they don’t knock someone over it can result in scratches and bruises to the person. Some people don’t like dogs or maybe are afraid of them. This can cause them to panic with can result in a serious issue.
Why do dogs jump up on people?
Blue Heelers can be very excitable and boisterous. For ways to calm a Blue Heeler down see here. Often the cause of jumping up behavior is that the owner or other people inadvertently reward the behavior.
When you or someone greets a dog they show excitement and make a big fuss giving them lots of affection. This rewards the behavior. By rewarding the behavior they simply don’t know that it is unwanted and unpolite behavior.
What not to do to stop your dog from jumping up
You don’t want to punish or use force to stop your Blue Heeler from jumping up. Most dogs don’t respond well to harsh training methods and using positive reinforcement is generally the best approach for this situation.
Techniques to avoid can include
- Yelling at your dog to get down
- Kneeing them in the chest
- Grabbing their front legs and walking them backward
- Standing on their back paws
- Hitting them with a shoe or rolled-up newspaper
- Grabbing their collar or scruff and twisting
- Pushing them over
- Spaying them with a water pistol
Yes, I have heard people suggest all these techniques. Your dog is simply showing they are happy to see you and want attention from you to show you are happy to see them too.
How to stop a dog from jumping up on people
There are quite a few simple and effective methods you can use to show your dog that the jumping up behavior is not wanted and to reward them for keeping all four paws on the ground. It is best to select one method that appeals to you the most and be consistent with it.
Consistency is the key. Not only do you need to use the selected method every time they jump up. You also need that you tell other people to do it as well.
The other key for your dog to learn quickly not to jump up is calmness. This means you need to be calm when greeting them. When you greet your dog with excitement they are going to become excited and likely to jump up.
When you arrive home, speak to your dog in a calm tone, and don’t make a big fuss. You can even not pay them any attention at first and do anything you need to do such as take your coat off or put the kettle on. Then call them over for some calm affection.
You also need to teach them calmness. For more on calming a Blue Heeler see here.
Some of the recommended methods for stopping your dog from jumping up on people include
Food on the ground
Just as your Blue Heeler is about to jump up, toss a treat or food on the floor. This will redirect their attention to the ground and encourage a lower head position. Once all four paws are on the ground and they are calm you can reward them further with praise and affection.
Your dog will soon learn that as long as they keep all four paws on the floor they will get lots of attention. It is important to put the food on the floor before your dog starts to jump. Timing is key to the success of this approach.
This approach is good to teach them not to jump up on other people without them having to be involved. Just stand next to or close to the person. Every time your Blue Heeler goes to jump up on them, place the treats on the floor.
Turn your back
When your Blue Heeler is jumping up on you, simply turn your back on them and ignore them until all four paws are back on the floor. As soon as all four paws are back on the floor reward them with a treat or the attention they were trying to get by jumping up.
Put a leash on them
Have a leash on your dog. Just as they are about to jump give them a gentle correction and guide them away with the leash. This doesn’t mean you have to have a leash on your dog all the time.
You only need the leash on them when you are doing this as a training drill. After a couple of short sessions using this technique, the jumping behavior usually is fixed.
This method may seem a little strange but it is highly effective. As your Blue Heeler runs up to you simply lift your knee up. Do not actually make contact with them. Ignore your dog until they calm down.
Selecting one of these methods will hopefully teach your Australian Cattle Dog that jumping up is unwanted and not polite behavior. The key to success with any of these approaches is consistency.