Recently my friend Jack reached out to me to help him understand why his dog, a 4-year-old Boxer named Simon, had begun the practice of jumping on him while they walked.
He had been walking the dog for a few years and Simon had not done this before, but now suddenly the dog was jumping and frankly, making the daily walks a miserable affair.
Since he knew I was experienced in canine issues, he sought advice on what he should do.
Every dog loves a nice walk, and many lucky pups get a nice walk or two every day. These times can be very enjoyable not only for the dog but also for the owner.
Some of the benefits of this daily activity include enjoying the fresh air, creating a special bonding time for both of you, getting in some good exercise, exposing your dog to opportunities for socialization, and providing both of you with stimulation as well as stress relief.
While puppies and dogs who have been crated for a long time may need to practice walking nicely on a leash, with practice most dogs catch on quickly and your walks can get longer and more enjoyable once the dog learns to walk in step with you.
Negative Behaviors During Dog Walks
But sometimes a dog exhibits more troubling behaviors during your walks, making it much less than enjoyable for both of you. This is where my friend Jack was when he contacted me.
Indeed, negative behaviors during dog walks can spoil the experience for both of you. One example of a negative behavior that is troublesome for many is when a dog jumps on you as you are walking her.
Although this can be very difficult, it is also fairly common. If you have this problem, read on to explore the reasons why, and take action to eliminate the behavior.
Why Your Dog Jumps On You While Walking
Unfortunately, there is not just one reason for this behavior that applies to all dogs.
The truth is that dogs can exhibit these behaviors for a variety of different reasons, and to address it and find a solution, it is necessary to identify why your dog does this.
Here are the top 7 reasons that your dog may be jumping on you while you walk.
Often, when a dog begins to jump or nip at your heels when you are walking, he may be trying to let you know he wants your attention. While you may give him plenty of attention, some dogs want more and more of your time, and can get quite demanding.
In cases like this, which I suspect is the situation with my Jack and his dog, the worst thing you can do is respond to this behavior. This will provide the dog with positive reinforcement for a negative behavior, and it will serve to make the behavior become ingrained and difficult to ever stop.
Instead, try to ignore when your dog jumps on you, and when he manages to walk without jumping on you, reinforce that good behavior with a treat or a play session.
It may be that your dog jumps on you while you walk together because he wants to play. Again, this is not a behavior you want to encourage with attention or positive reinforcement.
Here you should again look to encourage the times your dog walks nicely, with a treat or by throwing a ball, and ignore your dog when he jumps on you.
Anyone who has raised a puppy knows of both the joys, and the challenges involved. One of the biggest challenges is that puppies are often unable to control their behaviors because their minds are still growing, and they do not have full control of their behavior.
It is imperative to encourage your pup to good behaviors and discourage negative behaviors such as jumping on you while you walk.
Like all training you will do with your pup, it is important to remain patient and give clear direction, using positive reinforcement to praise good behavior.
When your previously well-behaved pooch begins jumping on your when you walk, he may be telling you he is bored. Have you been neglecting the daily walks? Has playtime been taking a back seat?
Remember that you are your dog’s favorite activity and if he is not getting enough focused attention, he is likely to lash out.
Hence the jumping on you while you walk. Take the time to be with your dog in a meaningful way – look into his eyes, pet him, brush him, and give him some deep quality time.
Just as boredom could cause jumping and other negative behaviors, an overstimulated dog can also act out on your walks. A dog that has had too much stimulation for one day can be overtired and a bit wired.
This can cause jumping behavior. The solution is to let your dog have some alone time to decompress.
Be sure to rule out illness if your dog is jumping on you while you walk. This could be a sign of illnesses such as diabetes, depression, and separation anxiety.
Dogs can be very sensitive to their environments so if there is tension in the household, the dog may be expressing his fear of the family unit coming to an end.
Finally, plenty of dogs are not properly trained and the effects of that may be most obvious when you try to contain them on a leash. Dogs need consistent training to feel safe in their environment and to trust their humans.
If you have not put in the time to train your dog on proper manners and civil behavior, now is the time. If you do not have the time or ability to do this, then enroll in a class at a pet store or through a private trainer.
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The Daily Walk: Not Always Pure Joy
Walking our dogs can be one of the best parts of dog ownership. Both dogs and humans should have daily exercise, stimulation, and bonding experiences.
Unfortunately, dogs are not problem-free, and there are behaviors they may exhibit that need to be corrected. Among these is the issue of a dog who jumps on its owner while going on a walk.
Before this issue can be corrected the cause of the behavior must be identified. Jumping behavior could be caused by many things, including boredom, a call for more attention, overstimulation, lack of training, puppyhood and even, occasionally, illness.
Many negative behaviors can be corrected by practicing good training habits. This means rewarding good behavior and ignoring negative behavior.
When your dog jumps at you while walking, the worst thing to do is to indulge your dog with lavish attention. If you do that you are essentially telling your dog the jumping behavior is perfect and you love it.
Instead, as I told my friend Jack about his dog Simon, ignore the jumping behavior, and encourage your dog when he walks without jumping. When you do this, your dog soon learns that all the attention she is seeking can be hers if she would just walk nicely.
Once you have identified the cause of your dog jumping on you while you walk and taken steps to correct it, you will gain the joy of dog walking once again. For you that means peaceful exercise every day and quality time with your beloved pooch.
And for your dog who experiences the longer, less stressful walks and the fun play sessions with his beloved owner, he will feel safe and trusting and happily behave properly to continue that feeling.
With my friend Jack and his dog Simon, I suspected the reason of the jumping behavior was that Simon was looking for more of Jack’s attention. Indeed, he had been away for several weeks visiting family, and Simon had been at a kennel with many other dogs.
Clearly, he missed Jack, and he was not getting the attention he was accustomed to when he was home with Jack. While I sympathize with the dog in this scenario, it is still a situation that must be corrected, and not encouraged.
While Jack’s first instinct may be to let Simon jump on him and then focus his attention on the dog, this is the wrong thing to do, as it only reinforces the bad behavior.
Instead, Jack should provide positive reinforcement whenever Simon shows good behavior such as not jumping on him when they walk. Soon Simon will learn that jumping on Jack does not get his attention and that walking nicely does, and he will adjust accordingly.
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