Lots of dogs jump up and jump on, people. Most pet parents become very used to the fact that their pup jumps on them to greet them when they get home, or jump up to attract their attention when it's getting close to dinnertime, or when they are looking for a little extra attention.
As endearing as jumpy dogs are, and as much as no pet parent wants to punish their dog, allowing your pup to continue jumping on you when they feel like it, or on other people, is not a behavior that should be tolerated.
That's why here we are going to offer some tips and tricks to help prevent your pup from jumping on you - and others - and learn to greet everyone a little more politely and calmly.
Why Should I Stop My Dog Jumping on Me?
As we mentioned, many dogs jump on their owners when they first come home after being away for the day. Stopping that behavior can seem harsh, as it obviously comes from a place of love and joy, and no pet parent would ever want to discourage that.
However, jumping up can be dangerous for you, your family, certainly for strangers and it can even be bad for them.
Even small dogs can easily knock a smaller person over - think a kid - and having a pup that insists on greeting everyone who comes to the door by jumping at them can be seriously problematic.
If a visitor is injured you could be facing a lawsuit and if a home has a reputation for being one that belongs to an unruly, jumpy dog then don't be surprised if delivery workers balk at coming to your house!
Discouraging your dog from jumping on you - and jumping up in general, isn't cruel or mean or discouraging him from being a loving companion.
If your toddler hits or bites people - which some do - it's bad behavior that needs to be lovingly corrected and you would not hesitate to do so. It should be the same for jumping up and your pup.
Why Dogs Jump?
If you ask dog lovers, vets and other animal experts from organizations like the ASPCA why dogs jump up it's fair to say you'll get lots of different answers. Some will suggest that the behavior is to assert their dominance within their 'pack' - even if that pack is mainly comprised of humans. And for some dogs, especially larger ones, that may indeed be the case.
For the most part however, your dog's habit of jumping up is just their way of saying 'look at me'. When they communicate with other dogs pups lock eyes with them. It's harder for them to do that with humans, so some theorize that the jumping is their way of trying to achieve that with their humans.
Dogs that lack basic social skills, either because of limited exposure to other dogs and people, or a lack of positive experiences oftentimes just don’t know better.
However, for the most part most people agree that a dog's jumping is to gain attention and feel more included. These are great things, but the biggest 'trick' you are going to have to pull off in training your dog to stop jumping on you is to show him that there are other, more acceptable ways to be included that don't involve flailing paws and acrobatics.
You May Be Making Things Worse
Very often the way a pet parent reacts to their pup jumping up only serves to make things worse. If you tolerate the jump behavior when you are coming home - because you have indeed missed your pup too and you don't want to be mean - they will take this as a sign that their behavior is okay and that they will even be rewarded for it.
Dogs don't just look for rewards in the form of tasty treats. Most pups crave nothing more than their human's attention, so if jumping up seems to achieve that for them then they are unlikely to stop.
Shouting at your pup, or pushing him down, every time he jumps is not the answer either.
Dogs usually understand tones of voice rather than actual words, so pushing him down won't correct the behavior at all and will either encourage it - because at least the jumping got your attention - or distress your pup to the point where he becomes wary or even scared of you.
To stop a dog from jumping up you will need to make a deliberate effort to train him not to do so. That's just what we are going to take a closer look at next.
How to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on You and Other People
Rome wasn't built in a day and your dog can't be trained to stop jumping on you in a day either. Any aspect of dog training takes time, patience and, perhaps most importantly, consistency. With these things in mind let's take a look at how it can be done.
One of the best ways to train a dog not to jump up begins with withholding the attention they are seeking when they do it. There are a few ways you can do this:
When your dog jumps up, simply turn your back and do not make eye contact. Don't say anything either and cross your arms so that your hands are not available for your pup to try to reach. If they jump again, turn the other way and repeat the same process.
For most dogs repetitions of this 'ritual' will eventually get the message across to them that jumping up is not the way they are going to get the attention they crave, and they will jump up less and less.
Removing yourself from your dog's eye line altogether may also help. If you are just entering the home, and they jump, go back out again and shut the door. If they do it while you are already in the house then walk into another room, again without a word.
The 'silent treatment' when training a dog not to jump up is important. Shouting at a dog, as we have mentioned, rarely does much good and won't correct their behavior, it is more likely to just confuse them even more.
Reward Good Behaviors
Positive reinforcement is always the best way to train a dog to do anything, so ensure that you are ready - with a supply of treats on hand - to reward your pup for his good behavior as you train him not to jump up.
Whenever our pup keeps all four paws on the ground - or as might be even more preferable sits - when in the past he has jumped up - toss him a treat. Keep the praise relatively low-key though, to prevent him from getting too excited and ruining the whole training session by jumping up again!
Practice makes perfect, so stick to your guns and maintain the same discipline in regard to your dog's unwanted jumping behavior every day. Don't give in because he 'looks sad' or you feel 'mean'. By safely and humanely correcting his jumping behavior you will make life better and safer for everyone, including your pup.
Adding a Sit Command
Once you pup is used to staying still when people enter his space, or when it's time for a big event (to him) like dinner, start to add sit command into the mix.
Do this by setting up an entrance situation and giving the command sit as you do. With patience and repetition your pup will learn that the proper reaction to people entering a room - and his space - is to sit.
Include Others in Your Training
Training your pup not to jump up on you is one thing, but they have to learn not to jump up at other people as well.
For this reason, you should include other family members and friends in your 'anti-jump' efforts so that your fur kid can learn that he needs to maintain the same composure with them as he does with you.
What Not To Do
The Internet offers some bad advice sometimes. And when it comes to teaching your pup not to jump up there is lots of it out there, and some of it is so prevalent that people think it must be okay. However, however often you see it, the following advice is not good to follow:
Punishing a Dog For Jumping
Some people suggest kneeing a dog in the chest or hitting him as a way to get him to stop jumping. It's not. That behavior is abusive, pure and simple, and no pup, however excitable, deserves to be abused. You also risk making your pup aggressive and distrustful with this behavior, something you would never want for him (or for you and your family.)
Some other advice pieces recommend training a dog not to jump up using a leash. This is some rather strange advice, as what pup is leashed all the time.
Not jumping SHOULD be a part of general leash training though. Some rowdy pups do tend to jump up at strangers when being exercised, so that is something they should be trained not to do.
Get Help If You Need It
Sometimes you can try everything to train your pup not to jump up and they just 'don't learn'. If that turns out to be the case, then it's time to get professional help in the form of formal dog training classes.
The best dog training classes are those you participate in too. To find classes in your area check with your local SPCA, as they often offer group classes you can attend. Some pet stores - larger ones like Petsmart - offer group dog training classes as well.
The ASPCA also offer online dog training resources and courses you can take from the comfort of your own home (very helpful in times of social distancing) to help you get back on track again if your effort to stop your dog jumping up seem to have stalled.
With that in mind there are also lots of great YouTube videos offered by noted experts – like the one below from Cesar Milan - that you should find very helpful in getting your dog to stop jumping up as well.