How to Train a Vizsla to Not Jump

Medium
4-16 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Imagine going to the park with your Viszla. You are enjoying the beautiful sunny day. You watch nearby families enjoy their picnics, you watch kids play little league ballgames, and you watch other walkers, like yourself, stroll past you. As you make your way around the park you encounter one group of kids after another, asking if they can greet your dog. You tell your dog to sit and show each child how to calmly pet your dog and feed him a treat out of the palm of her hand. Your dog handles the interactions like a champion. The interactions are not only fun for the kids but are also great experiences for your young dog, encouraging his love of children while giving him the opportunity him to practice his manners.

If your dog jumps on people, then the situation just described might seem impossible to accomplish. Your image of your dog in that situation is very different, and far more stressful, than what was just described, but what if that dog could be your dog too? What if your dog simply needs your help to learn how to greet people politely?

Defining Tasks

When your dog jumps on people it is not simply annoying, but can also be dangerous if that person is a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. When your dog acts calmly during greetings it also makes it easier to bring your dog places and to include your dog in family gatherings.

Your dog probably jumps because he is excited and he is trying to get closer to you, to say hello. Jumping is typically an attention seeking behavior. For that reason, it is important not to reward your dog with attention when he jumps, but instead to reward him for doing a more appropriate behavior, such as standing or sitting instead. If he is rewarded even occasionally for jumping, the jumping will almost certainly continue. Everyone interacting with your dog will need to be consistent. Instruct people who wish to greet your dog how to greet him. Explain that you are trying to teach him not to jump. Some people do not mind being jumped on by a dog, and will encourage the jumping by petting your dog when he jumps up, but if you explain to that person before he greets your dog that you are trying to teach him not to jump, that person is more likely to greet your dog the correct way. After all, most dog lovers enjoy helping dogs learn and want dogs to succeed.

Your dog will best learn not to jump on people if you never allow jumping, but if you or someone who regularly interacts with Fido insists on him jumping on him, then teach your dog a command for jumping up, such as "Up", and only allow your dog to jump up if he has been given that command.

If your dog is jumping on people aggressively, in an attempt to injure or intimidate a person, then seek out the help of a competent trainer in your area, who has experience in dealing with aggression. If your dog is jumping for that reason, then there is a more complex and dangerous issue that needs to be resolved, and the jumping is not simply normal attention seeking behavior. Most dogs who need help with jumping habits are simply jumping because of excitement though. 

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. If your dog loves food then you can also use his own dog food as treats. You will also need a small plastic bag and pocket to place the treats into, or a treat pouch to attach to yourself. You will also need volunteers to help you practice greetings with your dog, once your dog is able to greet you politely without jumping. You will also need an exit door, such as a front door, that your dog can watch you leave and return from. If you are using 'The Sit Method' then your dog will also need to know the 'sit' command. A great resource for learning how to teach your dog to "Sit" is Wag!'s Training Resources page. You will also need good timing, a positive attitude, and patience.

If you are using 'The Step Toward Method' then you will also need a commanding presence, and a firm and patient attitude while you step toward your dog, as well as patience and an encouraging tone of voice when your dog succeeds. If you are using 'The Leash Method' you will also need a six-foot leash and a collar for your dog, as well as multiple volunteers, one at a time, to help you teach this method to your dog.

The Sit Method

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Step
1
Teach 'sit'
To begin, teach your pup the 'sit' command. Practice the command until your dog can reliably sit when you tell him to.
Step
2
Go outside
After Buddy knows how to sit, then place lots of small, tasty treats into a Ziploc bag in your pocket or into a treat pouch attached to you. Leave your home while your pup is watching you, then stay outside, where he cannot see or hear you, for five minutes. If your pup cannot safely be left free in your home for five minutes then either confine him while you are gone or have another person stay with him in your home, to supervise him.
Step
3
Return
After five minutes, go back inside and either go over to your pup or allow him to come over to you. When he approaches you to say hello, tell him to sit before he has the chance to jump on you. If he is confined while you are gone, then you will need to greet him by his crate when you let him out of it.
Step
4
Reward
When Buddy sits when told to, praise him and give him a treat right bellow his chin from the palm of your hand. Do this to keep him from looking up and jumping. If your pup does not sit, or if he jumps on you, ignore him completely until he sits. After two minutes have passed, if he still has not sat, then repeat your 'sit' command. Do this until he sits. When he sits, calmly pet him and quietly praise him, while you feed him his treat. If he tries to jump on you while you are doing this, then immediately stop petting him and ignore him until he is sitting again.
Step
5
Repeat
Practice greeting your dog this way for several weeks, until he no longer jumps on you, but sits instead.
Step
6
Recruit others
When your pup no longer jumps on you anymore, then recruit friends, family members, and willing strangers to help you practice with your dog. Instruct the person to tell your dog to sit when she meets him, to ignore him if he jumps on her, and then to pet him and reward him with a treat when he is sitting down. Practice this with lots of different people, in a variety of locations, until your dog no longer jumps on people anymore, but instead sits while being greeted.
Recommend training method?

The Step Toward Method

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Step
1
Hide treats
To begin, place several small, tasty treats into a small plastic bag in your pocket, or in a treat pouch hidden from your dog's sight.
Step
2
Leave
While your dog is watching you, leave your home and go outside, where your dog cannot see or hear you. Stay outside for five to ten minutes, or long enough for your dog to become excited again when you come back. If your dog cannot be left unsupervised while in your home for that long, then confine your dog while you are gone, or have someone else supervise your dog in your home while you are gone.
Step
3
Return
After five to ten minutes, go back inside and greet your dog.
Step
4
Step toward
If your dog starts to jump on you, then step toward him, to throw him off his balance and to communicate that you want him to respect your space. Repeat this until your dog stops trying to jump on you, and instead sits, lies down, leaves the room, or stands in place.
Step
5
Reward
When your dog stops trying to jump on you, calmly praise him and drop a treat on the floor for him to eat. When he is calm, then you can gently pet him also. If he begins to jump on you again when you pet him then repeat stepping toward him.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat stepping toward your dog every time that he tries to jump on you and rewarding him for greeting you without jumping. Do this until he no longer jumps on you.
Step
7
Find helpers
When your dog no longer jumps on you anymore, then recruit friends, family members, and willing strangers to help your dog practice his new skills around other people too. Instruct the person greeting your dog to step toward him if he starts to jump, and then to praise, reward, and calmly pet him when he is acting calmly and not trying to jump on him. Practice this often, with many different people, until your dog no longer jumps on other people also.
Recommend training method?

The Leash Method

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Step
1
Get set up
To begin, attach a six-foot leash to your dog's collar and place treats into a small bag in your pocket, or into a treat pouch attached to your person. Fill the treat pouch or bag partially with small treats.
Step
2
Recruit a helper
Recruit a friend or family member that your dog is likely to jump on during a greeting. Have that person stand outside your front door and knock.
Step
3
Step on leash
When you go to the door to let your helper inside, step onto your dog's leash. Keep the leash loose enough for your dog not to notice that you are stepping on it while he is standing or sitting in place, but tight enough that he cannot jump up all the way, but will be automatically stopped with the leash if he tries to jump.
Step
4
Greet
With your foot on the leash, invite your friend inside. Have your friend calmly greet your dog. If your pup tries to jump up and gets stopped with the leash, then have the friend turn her back to him and ignore him until he calms down.
Step
5
Reward
When your dog calms down a bit, then have your friend try greeting him again. If he does not jump this time, then instruct her to calmly pet him while feeding him a treat below his chin. If he attempts to jump again, repeat having her turn her back to him when tries to jump up. Repeat the process until she can greet him and pet him without him jumping on her.
Step
6
Practice
When your dog can calmly greet your friend without jumping every time, then recruit other friends, family members, or willing strangers to help you practice this with your dog. Step on your dog's leash whenever a person is about to greet him, instruct the person to turn her back to him if he tries to jump, and then instruct the person to greet him by petting him and giving him a treat below his chin when he is being calm. Repeat this often with lots of different people, until your dog no longer jumps on people.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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