Does your dog get excited and jump on you and other people? Dogs jumping up on guests is a very common – and frustrating – behavior. Dogs jump on you to get attention and to try and greet you face to face. When dogs jump up, they get the attention they seek, making it very easy to accidentally reward the jumping by pushing the dog down or talking to the dog. With consistent training it is possible to teach your dog to stop jumping on you or your guests.
Why do dogs jump on you?
Although we might find it rude for dogs to jump on us or our guests, this is actually a very common and natural behavior for our dogs. Even dogs who have basic obedience training may struggle to control the impulse to jump up on you. Dogs greet each other face to face, and this can contribute to dogs attempting to greet us the same way, which usually involves jumping up. Although your dog is likely just trying to say hello, a dog jumping up can make a mess of your work clothes or, especially with large breed dogs, can accidentally cause someone to lose his balance and fall over.
When dogs jump on you or your guests, they are looking for attention and engagement. And the engagement they get, even though we might see it as negative by asking them to get off or pushing them off, can feel like play or positive attention for dogs. As a result, while you might feel frustrated your dog has been jumping, he doesn’t understand you want that behavior to stop. In fact, you may accidentally have rewarded the jumping. Dog training can help you curb your dog’s natural curious and social tendencies that result in the jumping behavior and give your dog something else to do instead of jumping.
How to stop a dog from jumping
When teaching your dog not to jump on people, get a friend or family member to help you set up training opportunities so your dog can practice calm engagement. The goal is to set our dogs up for success by removing the temptation to jump. Practice greetings with your dog on leash and have lots of high value treats cut into small pieces.
Teach your dog an alternative behavior to jumping
The best way to stop a dog from jumping is to teach an alternative behavior that allows you to help your dog understand what you want him to be doing instead of jumping. We don’t want to correct dogs for jumping. Instead, we want to proactively teach the dogs to do an alternative behavior to jumping up on your guests.
Use these steps to teach your dog to stop jumping with an alternative behavior:
Step 1: Have a friend or family member approach you and your dog but, before they get to you, scatter a small handful of treats on the ground and encourage your dog to eat them while you briefly greet the person.
Step 2: While your dog is still eating the scattered treats, have your friend turn and walk away without engaging with your dog. Praise your dog, and when your dog has finished eating the scattered treats, get his attention with a treat in your hand, turn and walk the other way.
Step 3: When your dog is comfortable eating scattered treats as someone approaches and leaves, you can build up the duration of how long you greet someone. To do this, repeat the above steps and then continue to toss a treat for your dog to find while you talk with the person. Then, get your dog’s attention with a treat in your hand and turn to calmly walk away.
Step 4: When your dog can comfortably eat treats tossed on the ground while you greet a person, try approaching the person, tossing treats for your dog like you have before to put him in a calm state of mind. Then, if you have a social dog who enjoys meeting people, tell your dog, “Say hi and allow your dog to quickly greet the person. Keep the greeting short and positive and, before your dog gets too excited, toss treats again for your dog to find.
Step 5: As your dog begins to understand the game, he will look at you as you approach a person instead of jumping up. Your dog will make the connection that what gets rewarded is keeping all four feet on the floor and not jumping up. As your dog gets better at the game, reduce the number of treats you need to throw and scatter. Eventually, start to just drop treats as you greet your guests.
Timing your dog jumping training
The key to success with teaching your dog not to jump up is to make sure you are tossing treats before your dog can jump. If at any point your dog jumps on someone, don’t correct your dog for jumping up. Instead, just have the person ignore your dog, turn and walk away. Then, re-engage your dog by tossing treats and have the person reapproach as you continue to toss treats to reward your dog for staying on the ground.
Although jumping is natural for dogs, it’s important to teach dogs not to jump on you or your guests. A dog jumping up can be frightening to people, or even cause someone to fall and get injured. Jumping up is self-rewarding for dogs, so teaching your dog not to jump on people is easiest to do by giving your dog an incompatible behavior to do. By tossing treats for your dog to find while you talk with someone, you’re rewarding your dog for keeping his feet on the floor. Over time, your dog will learn to offer keeping his feet on the ground as you greet people.