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How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping Up on People

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Dogs will jump up on people when they feel happy, excited, or playful. Sometimes they will do it to get attention, to play, or to show dominance. As it can be irritating to have your dog jump on you, it is important to know how to stop your dog from jumping at people.

So how can you teach your canine companion to calm down when you enter the room and give you a little space? The good news is that it’s easier than you think.

In a nutshell:

  • Withhold Attention
  • Reward Good Behavior
  • Add a Sit Command
  • Practice, practice, and practice…

Dogs use a variety of strategies to show their excitement when greeting their owners after a long day away. Most dogs communicate by barking, but some engage in a behavior called “airborne greeting”, or jumping up to say hello to their owners.

This behavior is both adorable and confusing, so why do dogs do it?

Dogs jump up at people for lots of reasons. In a paper published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, scientists found that jumping up is a way of reading a situation and feeling confident.

If they think there’s no danger, they’ll jump up excitedly. When dogs jump up, it’s also to see better—and maybe to smell you.

Jumping up is annoying, and it can be dangerous. Dogs can easily knock down children when they are playing and knock over items on the floor.

Jumping on people when they come through the door, jumping on people when they try to walk past, jumping on people when they try to sit down–and it’s not just your dog!

Many dogs with big personalities or high energy are prone to this sort of bad behavior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change it!

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most effective strategies from experts to keep your dog from jumping.

How to Train an Alternative Greeting Behavior

An alternative greeting behavior will be different from the normal dog behavior in the following aspects. The dog: 

  • does not approach the owner as soon as it sees him
  • does not jump up on the owner
  • does not lick the owner
  • does not sniff the owner

Positive reinforcement can teach the dog not to do any of these behaviors. As the owner, you should reward the dog immediately when it doesn’t do them.

The alternative greeting is usually taught as part of basic manners training.

How to Train Sit for Greetings

a dog that sits and looks up

The first step in training your dog to stop jumping is to decide what you want him to do instead. Do you want your dog to sit or lie down?

Let´s say you want him to sit:

Positive reinforcement is the key to getting your dog to sit for greetings. Clap your hands together and say, “Sit.”

When he does, immediately give him a treat and praise him. Your dog will associate the word “sit” with something nice like receiving a treat.

Another one of the most effective and easiest to use methods is called the “Watch Me” method.

If you ignore the jumping and reward the dog for sitting and looking at you, the dog will soon realize it doesn’t receive attention when it jumps, but it does when it sits and looks at you.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Jumping While You Train

The first thing you must remember is that your dog wants to please you.

The easiest way to do prevent your dog from jumping while you train him is to teach your dog to sit before you give him anything.

Consistency is key. Family members have to follow the training program all the time. You can’t let your dog jump on people sometimes, but not others.

Stop Dog Jumping by Training Humans

I mean by that: If your dog loves to jump on people, you need to train both the dog and the human to stop the dog jumping.  

This means getting your dog to stop jumping on humans, as well as preventing humans from encouraging the behavior.

Delay Greeting Until Your Dog Is Calm

Your dog may be the most loving, loyal, friendly creature ever, but he isn’t always interested in what you have to say.

The problem? His excitement of greeting his favorite person or dog can bring on a fit of barking, jumping, and howling.

To remedy this situation, make sure to wait until your dog is calmer or distracted before you attempt to greet him.

Don’t engage with a dog who’s jumping

No one likes a dog who jumps up on people. That’s a fact. Even though this is a fairly common dog behavior, it’s one of the easiest to control and fix.

If your dog’s jumping on you, then it is a sign of excitement and happiness.

Ignoring it sends the message that this behavior isn’t appropriate and could end the jumping session eventually.

Give Your Dog Something to Carry in His Mouth

a dog that carries a toy

Dogs love to jump on people as a way of interacting with them. Some people avoid this by bending down to a dog’s level or backing away when they jump up.

Neither of these will stop the dog from jumping on you. One way to stop the dog is to give him a toy to carry around.

Why: this will distract the dog from jumping up and give them something to do with their mouth to help them calm down.

My dog jumps up at visitors, how can I stop him?

This is probably the number one complaint dog owners have. It can be really annoying to guests. Not only do you have to clean the drool off the carpet, but you also have to apologize for the dog’s behavior.

If your dog jumps, you’ve probably been embarrassed and worried about him hurting someone.

There’s no guarantee that your dog will never stop jumping, but there are ways to make it less likely.

A dog that jumps up at people is usually doing so because he is excited to see them, but it can also be a sign that he is asking for attention, or trying to get the people to play with him. 

The behavior may seem aggressive or dominating to new dog owners, but that is very unlikely.

This what you can do to stop your dog from jumping up at your visitors:

  • Withhold your attention.
  • Reward good behavior with a treat
  • Add a command that will tell your dog to sit
  • Practice, practice, and practice…

It will take some time, but eventually and if you are consistent, your dog will learn that jumping at people isn’t acceptable…

Is There More to Jumping Than Just Excitement?

You may think that dogs jump for the same reason that humans do: primarily because they are excited. Yet, that’s not the whole story.

Dogs also jump for many other reasons:

  • to greet each other
  • to express happiness
  • to show dominance
  • to get attention
  • because they’re bored
  • or even because they are frightened

Many trainers believe that jumping is a normal, natural, and healthy expression of canine behavior. As with any behavior, however, jumping needs to be channeled and controlled.

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