Image by Daniel Martins

"Off" Cue

It is a myth that dogs won't listen if they're allowed on the furniture. The only reasons to not allow dogs on furniture are, you don't want them there OR they growl or bite (guard) if a person wants to sit there.

Prevention is better 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". Examples are people and counter tops. That is because every time a dog successfully practices a behavior, like jumping on people and counters, it becomes more and more of a habit.Telling them to get "Off" after the fact will not stop them from getting on again the next chance they get. Even punishment will only stop them in the moment, and they will still jump "On" the next opportunity. 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. 

LEVEL 1

  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

Repeat 5 times.

LEVEL 2

  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

Repeat 5 times.

LEVEL 3

  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.

What to do for 'Hard Core Jumpers'

Some dogs already have a well-established jumping habit. These are the dogs who keep jumping, even when you turn away and ignore them. They may dig their nails into your shoulders or grab on and hump. Here is what you do to break the bad habit.

Dogs are most likely to jump when they are excited. They are especially excited when you come home after being away. Make sure they are crated or gated so they cannot run to greet you at the door. Ignore them for a couple of minutes after you get home. Before opening the crate or gate, wait for them to Sit. Do not greet them when they come out. Instead, let them out to use the bathroom, or take them out if they have to be leash-walked. Ignore them if they jump on you. Do not push them with your hands or tell them "No". That is attention, and it actually REWARDS jumping! Once they have relieved themselves, now you can go back inside for greeting. They will have let some of the excited energy out, but not all. 

When you are ready to greet your dog, stand next to a doorway or baby gate. Ask your dog to "Sit". Calmly pet them. If their paws come off the ground, go on the other side of the door or gate and wait 30 seconds. Ask your dog to "Sit" and calmly pet them. Paws off the ground, go behind the door/gate for 30 seconds. Repeat until your dog keeps their paws on the floor. This may take a LONG time the first few times you do it. If you stick this out for a couple of weeks, however, you will stop your dog's jumping habit. 

Alternative: If your dog likes toys, keep one just inside the door. When you walk in, toss the toy or give it to your dog so they put their excited energy into the toy instead of you.

For jumping on other people, keep your dog on leash and don't allow people to pet them until they are calm. See the "Sit for Petting" exercise.