Teaching Your Dog The “Off” Command
Teaching the Off command isn’t hard. You’re teaching your dog to keep his paws on the floor. Paws on the floor means treats and praise. When he jumps up or has his paws off the floor, then he gets ignored.
Start by putting your dog in a situation where he is often tempted to jump up on you such as when you walk through the door. When he jumps up on you give him the “Off” command and turn your back to him. When your dog has his paws on the floor again, praise him and give him a treat. Keep practicing this lesson. You should be able to do some things to provoke your dog to nearly jump such as speaking in a happy voice or holding a food item. When your dog starts to jump up give him the Off command.
Once your dog is getting the hang of the Off command you should go ahead and add the Sit command to the process. So, when you give the Off command you should also give the Sit command: “OFF.. SIT.” Your dog should put all four paws on the ground and immediately sit. It will take some practice to get your dog to reach this point but it does work.
The “Off” command is good to use for getting your dog to put his paws on the ground because it can’t be mistaken for any other command. If you tell your dog “Down” or “Get Down” then he may confuse it with the “Lie Down” or “Down” command. You don’t want your dog to lie down when you are trying to tell him to stop jumping up on you.
Use the “Off” command to tell your dog to get off someone he’s jumped on. It can also be used if your dog is counter surfing or if he’s on furniture and not supposed to be. The command is to stop your dog from doing something he’s not supposed to be doing and to get his paws back on the ground.
It will take practice in each of these situations for your dog to know what you want. Your dog may not always associate “Off” with a desired action, be patient with him if he doesn’t make the association the first time you use the command.
You and your dog should think of the “Off” command as the “knock if off!” command and it will help with the training. Remember to reward and praise your dog for following through when you have asked him to do something. Although you are altering his behavior he is still learning and should be rewarded.