One of the biggest issues people come to me with is that their German Shepherd jumps. Jumps on them, their children, visitors, and people at the park. It is normal for German Shepherds and puppies to jump and they usually do it for a few reasons.
German Shepherds love attention, good or bad attention. They enjoy being noticed and interacted with. Usually, when a German Shepherd jumps on someone it elicits some sort of response. This response can be positive, in the way of a pat and cuddle, or negative, such as a slap or a push down. It doesn’t matter, it’s still attention, and for some German Shepherds, any attention is good attention. German Shepherds usually continue to perform behaviours that work for them on some level, so this attention for jumping works. As long as it’s working for your German Shepherd they will continue jumping.
There are many ways of combating jumping, it just depends on the circumstances that the jumping is occurring. However, the consistent factor is ‘be prepared’, you know that your German Shepherd jumps, and you probably know when it is going to happen. Be prepared before it happens, so that you can change this behaviour pattern.
If your German Shepherd jumps on you when you greet them before you say hello to them grab a bunch of tasty treats or a great toy. You can ask them to sit (provided they can do this well), throw a bunch of treats on the ground, or go straight into a toy game with them. The point is, do something with your German Shepherd to distract them from the jumping behaviour.
If you want your German Shepherd to stop jumping on visitors to the house it not only requires training your German Shepherd, but it also requires that you train your guests. Visitors must be taught how to behave around your German Shepherd. If they are not German Shepherd lovers you need to teach your German Shepherd to focus on you while your guests are inside, then reinforce your German Shepherd for calm, quiet behaviour while your guests are at your home. Visitors that want to interact with your German Shepherd can do so, but only with a toy or treat in their hand.
Reserve the pats for when you German Shepherd is nice and calm. Have your guests work and play with your German Shepherd, just like you do, to distract them from jumping. Spend time training your German Shepherd to watch you while people walk through the door and ring the doorbell. This takes time and should only be used in ‘real-life’ once the German Shepherd has mastered it in practice.
You can also change jumping by catching ‘good’ behaviour. When your German Shepherd is sitting or laying down don’t forget about them. Give them some quiet attention, or a bit of food. Behaviour that you reinforce will occur more frequently in the future. If your German Shepherd offers you a sit, acknowledge them, to do this successfully you need to be watching your German Shepherd and aware of their behaviour- be vigilant, and when you can’t be, your German Shepherd needs to be confined.
Jumping on people at the park is often a recall issue. You can see that you German Shepherd is dashing towards someone to jump on them if you have a great recall you should be able to call your German Shepherd back to you before they jump on people. Otherwise, spend some time training your German Shepherd to focus on you while people walk by.
Sometimes, German Shepherds that jump on people in the park do so because there is a lot of standing around by owners. It is always best to be on the move with your German Shepherd, movement takes the focus off people and other German Shepherds because there are always new things to explore. I know that it is great fun to watch German Shepherds play, but if you find a nice German Shepherd that gets on with yours, ask their owner to walk with you.
Ignoring your German Shepherd when they jump on you is not enough to change the behaviour. To change behaviour you should replace the unwanted behaviour with a new one. Only ignore your German Shepherd when you miss the jump coming. If you are too late in asking your German Shepherd to ‘sit’ or ‘come’ that is when ignoring is your only option. It should only be used as a last resort, and you will need to reflect on the situation afterwards to see where you went wrong. It’s OK to make mistakes, you will learn from them, and be a better handler for it.
Lastly, a tired German Shepherd is a happy German Shepherd. If you can give your German Shepherd enough stimulation throughout the day they will be less likely to jump. This means that for some German Shepherds they will need two walks each day and environment enrichment while you are out. Every German Shepherd should be walked daily, no matter their breed, size or age.
Jumping is normal canine behaviour, our German Shepherds are happy to see us, and want to be close to us, they want our attention. This loyalty and love are probably one of the reasons you chose to get a German Shepherd, and not a more independent pet. Use your confinement areas, and be aware of your German Shepherd’s jumping habit, where and when it is happening, and be prepared to change it.