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Madeleine Ross, CPDT-KA, November 8 2018

Canine Learning Theory & Why Dogs Jump

The first rule of dog training is that "all behaviour that gets reinforced, gets repeated." This means that when a dog gets something that they want out of a behaviour, they are more likely to try it again in the future.

A common example of this is dogs that jump up onto people. If the jumping behaviour is repeating over and over again, then that must mean that the dog is getting some kind of pay off. Most commonly, dogs that jump are looking for ATTENTION.

The chain of events goes like this:
1) A dog wants attention
2)The dog jumps on a human
3) The human looks down at the dog, talks to them or even gives them a pat
4) Success! The dog got exactly what they wanted

Even if you then ask your dog to sit or tell them off for jumping, the next time they want attention – they’ll jump!If your dog is repeating a behaviour consistently, they must be getting some kind of pay off from it. Analyse the situation to see if you can determine what it is.

Written by

Madeleine Ross, CPDT-KA


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