Image by Daniel Martins

Off

Off is for when your dog is ON something (furniture, rug, counter) or someone and you want them OFF. It's not true that dogs won't listen to you if allowed on the furniture, but they should get off when asked to.

Prevention is easier than Cure

If it's something you don't want your dog to be "On" in the first place, it is better to stop them from getting on it than to wait until they do and tell them "Off".

Every time they are successful at jumping ON something, they are rewarded for it (because they enjoy it). Telling them to get OFF after-the-fact doesn't erase the reward. Neither does punishing them. It stops them at the moment, but it won't keep them from doing it again later. Sometimes, they learn to jump ON [the something] only when you aren't looking.

It's like eating too much (or drinking too much). It's rewarding at first. Mmm, that buffet tastes so good! It's only punishing later when your stomach hurts. So, next time you're at that buffet, you're likely to eat too much again. It's easier to avoid that buffet entirely.

I've known dogs who have been shocked by e-collars for jumping and never stop jumping. They only stop after they have already jumped. Which does no good if they knock down a little kid or eat a loaf of bread from the counter first. I had a foster dog who became aggressive with people after being shocked for a FULL YEAR for jumping, and he STILL jumped on people!

The way to prevent jumping in the first place is with good management.
Keep your dog out of the kitchen with baby gates or a crate. There are extra-long gates for homes with open floor plans.

Keep your dog from jumping on people by keeping them on leash and teaching them to Sit for Petting.

Keep your dog from jumping on you by giving them the Sit cue when they first start coming toward you and you know they are going to jump.


If they do jump, use the "Off" cue and make a note to be more proactive next time.

The "Off" cue is best used for things your dog is allowed "On", but you need them to get off of it at this time. For example, they are allowed on the couch, but you need them "Off" to vaccuum it. 

Step-By-Step

LEVEL 1

Follow a lure to get off the furniture

  1. Invite your dog onto the couch. If they aren't allowed on the furniture, use their dog bed.

  2. Cue "Off" and move a treat from their lips towards the floor.

  3. The second their paws are on the floor, say "YES!" and feed the treat.

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog will follow the treat in your hand off the furniture and onto the floor.

LEVEL 2

Follow a fake lure to get off the furniture

  1. Invite your dog onto the couch. If they aren't allowed on the furniture, use their dog bed.

  2. Cue "Off" and move your index finger from heir lips towards the floor. Leave the treat in your bag.

  3. The second their paws are on the floor, say "YES!" and feed a treat from your bag.

Success Criteria

This level is successful when your dog will follow the fake treat in your hand off the furniture and onto the floor.

LEVEL 3

Cold trial test

  1. When you happen to see your dog on the couch, cue "Off" and point to the floor. 

  2. The second they are on the floor, say "YES!". Go to the kitchen and get a treat for them.

Success Criteria

Your dog will get off the furniture whenever they are asked to.

How to Stop Jumping on People

Training a dog to NOT jump on people shouldn't take a long time - a few weeks at the most. It does require focus and effort on our part to get it done. Otherwise, the habit will never be broken. It's not something we can train sometimes and ignore others because we're too busy and expect it to go away.

Teach your dog to Greet people properly.

Practice the Sit Politely for Petting exercise with as many people as possible over and over again until your dog gets the idea. 

 

Remove the Reward for Jumping.

Dogs jump to get your attention. Telling them "No!" or putting your hands on them to push them Off of you gives them attention and REWARDS THEM FOR JUMPING! Fold your arms so they can't grab at your hands. Turn away from your dog so you're not looking at them. Move your hip slightly into their space. (Moving away encourages them to jump more). Say "OFF!" and wait. When all of their paws are on the ground, give them CALM attention. Soothing petting and low-key praise.

Anticipate and Redirect Jumping.

It's pretty predictable when your dog is going to jump. They jump when they are excited. They are especially excited when you come home, when guests first come in, and when children run and squeal. Manage the environment to prevent practicing the jumping behavior. Keep your dog behind a baby gate or in a crate or on a leash (supervised only) when you or someone else come into the home or when children are playing until your dog is trained to not jump. Wait until they've calmed down to let them out. If your dog runs to jump on you, put one foot and one hand in front of you like a crossing guard signaling "STOP!" and tell them to "Sit". Praise and pet when they do.

Another option is to keep a toy or box of treats at the door. When you or a guest come inside, scatter treats on the floor or toss the toy for the dog to redirect their energy onto something else. This is management AND training.

 

Set up training sessions to teach your dog what to do instead of jumping.
Examples are Sit for Petting, Stand for Petting, Grab a toy and shake it. To be most effective, training should be done a LOT in the beginning. If it's sprinkled here and there and only during real-life situations, it isn't likely to be effective at stopping the jumping habit. Have friends over for pizza and practice polite greetings over and over and over until your dog gets it.



Use a barrier with really intense jumpers.
The intense jumpers are the ones who jump harder when you ignore them. They dig their nails into your shoulders when your back is turned. They leave your arms and legs bruised and may even knock people down. Instead of turning away from these guys, go behind a door and wait 30 seconds, then open it again. If they jump, close the door again. Repeat as many times as it takes for your dog to keep their paws on the ground. Then calmly praise. 

These guys usually have a lot of nervous energy. They benefit most from being told exactly what to do and when. Spend a lot of time teaching them polite greetings and reward them generously for it.