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When you hear "Boxer" what image comes to mind? Perhaps someone like Sylvester Stallone, throwing punches in the ring and inspiring audiences in the movie "Rocky". If you are the owner of a lovable Boxer, then perhaps what comes to mind is your dog jumping into the air and "throwing punches" at you.
Boxers can be a lot of fun. With their often optimistic outlook on life, their enthusiasm for about everything, and their springiness, it's hard not to enjoy one. With such a fun personality, energy, and excitement, it should come as no surprise that your Boxer is jumping on you. This jumping is often meant as an expression of your puppy's excitement and as a way to gain your attention, but as your puppy grows, the jumping can become annoying and even downright dangerous, when your elderly grandmother or two-year-old niece comes to your home. The longer that the jumping continues, especially if your puppy is being petted when he jumps, the harder it is to teach your Boxer not to jump. For that reason, and because your Boxer's jumping will become more dangerous as he grows, it is extremely important to teach your puppy not to jump while he is still young.
Teaching your puppy not to jump, not only saves you from annoyance and the risk of someone being knocked over, it also has the added benefit of teaching your puppy how to exert self-control and act more polite. There are few things that make you want to pet a dog more than when the dog sits nicely and waits patiently to be greeted, without even being told. As the owner of such a dog, it can make you feel very proud, and even more so if that dog is only a puppy. Not jumping is also a prerequisite for a lot of other, more advanced training. If you wish for your dog to become certified one day as a Therapy Dog, Service Dog, or even Canine Good Citizen, then your dog must not jump while greeting people. If you wish to show your dog in Conformation, or progress in the American Kennel Club's Obedience trials, then your dog also must not jump on people.
How long this will take to teach your puppy depends on several factors. It depends on what age your puppy is; the younger your puppy, the quicker your puppy is likely to learn this. It depends on whether or not your puppy has been petted before when he jumped, and if so, how often? Finally, it depends on the personality of your puppy. Some puppies are naturally more excited, pushy, or outgoing, and so struggle more than others not to jump. In general, though, expect this to take between one month and four months to train. Your puppy might stop jumping on you rather quickly, but it might take him longer to generalize the lesson to other people too. For this reason, it is very important to practice this around other people, once your puppy has mastered not jumping on you.
Because jumping is an attention seeking behavior, remember not to give your puppy any type of attention that he will find rewarding when he jumps. While you are teaching this, be careful to remain calm and firm while your puppy attempts to jump on you. If you begin to yell, make quick movements, or act frightened or nervous, your puppy may become even more excited by your reaction, and it might encourage your puppy to jump even more. When you praise your puppy for acting polite, speak to him in a soft and happy voice, rather than in an excited voice. This will help him to continue his good behavior and maintain his self-control. Instruct friends and family members to do the same thing.
When you reward your puppy, if you are rewarding him for sitting, then offer him the treat underneath his chin, so that he will look down, and so that he will not be encouraged to jump when he sees a treat above his head. If you are rewarding him for simply standing or for laying down, then drop the treat at his feet, so that he will look down, and will not be encouraged to jump when he sees a treat above his head. Dropping treats on the floor will also encourage him to focus on the floor, rather than on jumping, in anticipation of receiving a reward there in the future.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats, and a Zip-Loc bag or treat pouch that can be hidden from sight in your pocket or underneath your shirt. You will also need the help of various family members and friends as your puppy improves. You will also need a calm, firm, and patient attitude, as well as a soft and kind tone of voice for praising your puppy. If you are using the 'Sit' method and your puppy does not already know how to 'sit', then you will also need a corner to teach this in. If you are using the 'Sit' method or "the 'Leave' method, you will also need a door that leads to the outside of your home, such as a front door, to teach this by. Last, but perhaps most importantly, you will need consistency and the self-control to resist petting your puppy anytime that he jumps, in or outside of training sessions.
The Sit Method
To begin, teach your puppy the 'sit' command. To teach 'sit', have your puppy stand in a corner, with his back to the walls. Show your puppy a treat, and then hold the treat a couple of inches above your puppy's nose. Slowly move the treat from above his nose, toward the back of his head and neck. While you do this, keep the treat at a height where he can see it. When the treat gets to a certain point, then the only way that your puppy will be able to look up enough to see the treat anymore is if he sits down. When he begins to sit, in order to follow the treat, then tell him "sit", and when his bottom touches the floor, praise him and offer him the treat.
Practice having your puppy sit until he will sit when you just say the word. To get to this point, when he begins to sit as soon as you show him the treat, in anticipation of you moving the treat, then begin to tell him "sit", and wait seven seconds before showing him the treat. The first time that he sits before you have shown him the treat, offer him five treats as a reward, one treat at a time. Continue to practice this until he will consistently sit when told, without seeing a treat.
After your puppy knows the 'sit' command, place several treats into a treat pouch, or into a Zip-Loc bag in your pocket. Leave your house for ten minutes, and go somewhere where your puppy cannot see you. If your puppy is not fully house trained yet, then make sure that your puppy is either safety confined or with someone else while you are gone.
After you have been gone for ten minutes, come back, and act excited to be home when you enter your front door. Let your puppy out of his confined area if he is not already free, so that he can greet you.
When your puppy comes over to you, tell him sit, and ignore any jumping. Repeat the command every two minutes if he is too excited to comply, but do not repeat it more often then that. When your puppy finally calms down enough to sit, then praise him and offer him three treats bellow his chin, one at a time. It is important to offer the treats bellow his chin, so that he has to look down. If he has to look up in order to get the treats, that will encourage him to jump again.
If your puppy begins to jump again after you have given him the treats, then repeat your "sit" command, stand perfectly still, and ignore him until he sits. Repeat the command every two minutes until he sits. When he sits, reward him again.
Practice rewarding your puppy for sitting every time that you greet him. Do this until he will automatically sit, without having to be told, in order to receive a treat.
Practice with other people
When your puppy will consistently sit when you greet him, then get friends and family members to help you teach him to sit for them also. Have a friend or a family member greet him by telling him "sit" and then reward him with a treat for doing so. If he jumps on her, have her ignore him until he sits. Practice this with everyone he meets.
In order for the training to work, your puppy must not be rewarded with attention for jumping at other times. Make sure that anyone who is allowed to greet him while he is learning this, is asked to tell him to sit and to not pet him if he jumps. When you go places while he is learning this, carry treats with you so that you will be able to give him a treat for sitting, or will be able to have whoever is greeting him give him a treat. The more people who tell him to 'sit' and ignore his jumping, the quicker he will learn that sitting is the way to gain peoples' attention, and the harder he will work to sit.
The Leave Method
Leave your home
To begin, place treats inside of a Zip-Loc bag in your pocket, or in a treat pouch hidden under your shirt. With your puppy free inside of your home, and supervised if needed, have him watch you leave your home. Stay gone for at least ten minutes. You do not have to leave your property, but do not let your puppy see that you are close by.
Announce your arrival
After at least ten minutes have passed by, go back to your home and enter while announcing your arrival, by saying something like "Hello!" in a cheerful voice. Do this so that your puppy will come over to greet you.
When your puppy comes over to you, if he does not jump on you, then praise him and drop a treat on the floor. It is important that the treat is dropped on the floor so that he will learn to look down for a treat, and be less likely to jump up because he is looking up.
If he jumps on you, then immediately turn and walk out your door. Stay outside, out of sight, for five minutes.
After five minutes, go back inside and try again. Repeat walking outside if your puppy jumps again, and drop a treat on the floor if he does not jump. Do this until he does not jump when you enter your home.
Practice leaving whenever your puppy jumps on you, and dropping a treat on the floor whenever he does not jump. Do this until your puppy no longer jumps on you when you greet him.
Practice around others
When your puppy no longer jumps on you when you greet him, then have your friends and family members help your puppy practice around them also. When your friend or family member comes to your home or walks up to you to greet your puppy, if your puppy does not jump, then have the person praise your puppy and drop one of your treats on the floor for him. If your puppy does jump, instruct the person to walk away, and to not come back for five minutes. While you are teaching this, anytime that you go somewhere with your puppy, carry treats with you. Do this so that you will be ready to reward your puppy for polite behavior whenever you meet people.
The Step Forward Method
To begin, hide several treats in a Zip-Loc bag in your pocket, or in a treat pouch under your shirt, where your puppy cannot see them.
Take a step
Greet your puppy. If he jumps up, then immediately step toward him, so that he is thrown off balance and has to back up. Do not kick him, though.
If your puppy tries to jump on you again, then take a step toward him again. Do this until he remains standing or sits down. When you step toward him, do so firmly and calmly. Try not to act excited, angry, or frightened because if you do, your puppy might think that you are playing with him, and will jump on you more.
When your puppy stops jumping for at least five seconds, praise him in a soft voice, and drop a treat onto the floor to reward him for not jumping.
Practice stepping toward your puppy every time that he jumps, and rewarding your puppy for not jumping, whenever you greet him. As he improves, only reward him for not jumping at all, rather than rewarding him for stopping his jumping. Do this until your puppy no longer jumps on you.
When your puppy is no longer jumping on you, get your friends and family members to help you teach him not to jump on others also. Have your friend greet your puppy. If he not does not jump, then have your friend calmly praise him, and have her drop one of your treats on the floor for him. If he does jump, then instruct her to quietly take a couple of steps toward him, until he stops. After he stops, when he has remained standing or sitting for one minute, then have her drop a treat for him. As he improves, have your friend only reward him for not jumping in the first place. If your puppy is able to remain calm enough to not jump, allow your friend to calmly pet him if he enjoys being petted. Practice this with many different people, until he does not jump on people anymore.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 02/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021