How to Stop a Dog from Jumping on Me

It has taken a lot of experience to figure out how to stop a dog from jumping on me. Jumping up when greeting is one of the most common complaints pet owners have about their dogs. The reason this behavior happens so frequently is that in dog to dog communication, moving right toward the face is not only common but may show social politeness and deference to the other animal.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to put up with this annoying behavior. You can teach your dog to stop.

While the idea of “training” may seem daunting, it is simply teaching an animal what behavior works or doesn’t work through resulting consequences — so whether you realize it or not, you are actually training your dog every moment of the day. Fortunately for you, preventing jumping is possible even without structured training. There are some simple solutions to this problem that require minimal effort and fit easily into your normal interactions with your dog.

Why is My Dog Jumping?

There are a number of theories about why dogs jump up on people; popular among these are dominance and greeting behaviors.

The truth is, though, that your dog is probably jumping up to say, “Look at me!”dogs jump on people for attention

Why do dogs jump? In short, a jumping dog is a dog who is looking for attention, and it doesn’t matter whether that attention is positive or negative.

Dogs have spent thousands of years evolving alongside humans and over that time they have learned what appeases us when we are angry with them (puppy eyes anyone?), what facial expressions and silly antics earn our affection, and what behaviors get them what they want. If your dog wants attention, affection or petting and they have learned that they can get it when they jump, then guess what? They will continue jumping! 

You might inadvertently be rewarding your puppy when your dog jumps up on you by giving it what it wants. As is often true of kids, negative attention may be better than no attention. Your dog doesn’t necessarily realize that when you push it off or yell at it to get down that you’re attempting to punish it. Instead, your pup may view your behavior as exactly what it’s seeking: treasured attention from you.

In this case, any type of attention that the dog gets from you or others may be perceived as a reward. It makes sense then that instead of rewarding it when your dog jumps up, you make it more rewarding for it to keep all four paws on the floor.

 

The 3 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid when Trying to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on People

A dog that jumps up is a HUGE problem! Ironically, I live with a dog that jumps! Let me explain, before you think I am completely crazy! After all, why would a dog trainer admit to living with a problem jumper?

Actually, he is mostly my brother’s dog and I am not always in charge of his training. The kids let him jump, my brother lets him jump, my brother’s wife lets him jump; but he has learned not to jump on me! Why? Because I avoid these 3 simple mistakes to make sure that I stop my dog from jumping up:

  1.  Yelling

yelling at dogs doesn't workYelling doesn’t work.  It is a waste or your time and breath. Poignantly, yelling doesn’t work for much when you are talking about dog training. It may work on your children, but in most cases (unless you are willing to back hand your dog or inflict sincere pain) yelling incites excitement. Dogs often don’t know how to deal with our anger when they are already excited. 

Here they are excited to see us, excited we are home, trying to communicate something, or trying to play with us and we yell. Yelling confuses dogs. Again, they are excited, and we seem angry? So, in an effort to appease us, they often get more excited or agitated and confused and jump on us more or show other inappropriate behaviors like nipping.

Imagine being in love with someone, sincerely missing them for what seems like forever (months) and then having them meet you with indifference and anger.  Would you be confused or hurt?  Would you try to cheer them up or change their mind?

Your dog doesn’t understand, don’t waste your time yelling at him, which will simply make his behavior worse and will inevitably make you angrier.

  1.  Kicking

Kicking or kneeing is another choice that will, almost certainly, confuse your dog. I know that some will claim that it has worked for them in the past, but not only is kicking barbaric it often doesn’t work unless there is significant pain associated with it on several occasions.pug puppy

And, who really wants to kick and hurt their dog? Much less, who wants to ask other people to kick and hurt their dog? That is certainly not the way that I want to train! I don’t want my dog to fear me or other people. And, really it is as simple as that. But it also only works for people who are willing to do that to your dog.

How many 3-year-olds are going to kick your dog? How many visitors? Is that really what you want your dog to learn? I think we have all tried these techniques, yelling, kneeing, grabbing their feet till they are uncomfortable; but these all rely on “WAITING FOR THE DOG TO JUMP” instead of stopping the dog from jumping up from the beginning.

  1.  Turning Away

I know, I know – you didn’t expect that one on the list!

Many people are told to just turn their back when their dog or another dog jumps on them.  And, I will concede that sometimes I do this with other people’s dogs for a short time until I can find another tactic, but it still doesn’t usually work.

Again, it may have worked for a small handful of dogs, but not the majority. 

dog jumping is a self-rewarding behaviorJumping is a self-rewarding behavior. Let that sink in for a minute…

Jumping is a self-rewarding behavior, so to some degree it doesn’t matter how much screaming, kicking, smacking, ignoring or turning you try to do; your dog is getting something out of jumping on you.

His brain fills with oxytocin and serotonin as soon as he gets next to you and touches you. 

This also happens when you touch him, but if you don’t do it fast enough he figures he can just jump into your space and onto you.

He doesn’t mean any harm, really.

He is a dog, and dogs aren’t born knowing and understanding our human rules and guidelines.  They require teaching!

  • They don’t understand that it hurts sometimes when they jump.
  • They don’t understand how dangerous it is to jump on toddlers or the elderly.
  • They don’t understand when you are dressed up and you don’t want your nylons ripped.
  • They especially don’t understand when you are inconsistent!!!

 

And, turning away from them just makes jumping more of a game.dog jumps

He jumps, you turn, he jumps again… this goes on and on and whereas it isn’t fun for you; and you hope that he is learning, the truth is that he is a dog and he is having a good time.

Turning away is like playing a game of keep away – and dogs LOVE keep away!

What if you have tried other training methods in the past, such as kneeing your dog in the chest, pushing them off of you or shouting commands like “Off!” “No!” or “Down!” without success?

When you push your dog or puppy off of you, you have touched them, and therefore rewarded the behavior.

When you shout commands at your dog that they do not understand or have not learned well, you are speaking to your dog, giving them attention.

When you accidentally knee your dog in the chest or step on their paws? Even that may be reinforcing your dog’s behavior, because to a dog even negative attention is better than no attention at all. This is why dogs who have been abused in the past may still remain loyal to their owners, because negative attention is better than being ignored.

You may have heard about methods of training a dog not to jump that call for some form of punishment.force does not fix dog jumping One such method is a knee to the dog’s chest. Another is using leash correction—pulling or yanking on the leash—to get the dog off you. There are several problems with these methods:

If you knee or leash correct your dog too harshly or improperly, you can seriously injure the dog.

When you use a knee to the chest, you may knock your dog down, but the dog may interpret this as your way of initiating play. Your dog’s response will likely be to jump up again to continue the game because you’ve actually reinforced the behavior you’re trying to stop.

Your dog may learn not to jump up only when it’s on a leash. Since most dogs aren’t leashed 24/7, chances are your dog will have plenty of opportunities to get away with jumping up when it’s off its leash.

 

Things that Help

 #1 Reward a dog with four feet on the floor!

In order to teach your dog our rules and guidelines, we must teach them what behaviors we like!

teach your dog the behaviors you DO wantPeople spend so much time telling dogs what NOT to do, that they rarely think about teaching their dogs what TO DO instead!

I reward my puppies for lying down on the floor at my feet, or sitting, or even just keeping all four feet on the ground.

In the beginning, I reward the puppy or new dog before they get an opportunity to jump. I make sure that I have excellent, tasty rewards!  For instance, your dog might rather jump on you than have a stale dog biscuit.  I use chicken breast, cheese or liver to reinforce good behavior.

Once my dog learns to keep all four on the floor, I change the criteria to sitting or (even better) lying down and waiting for me to come to him for affection. If jumping doesn’t bring petting or affection, but keeping four feet down brings treats AND affection a dog will learn quickly to stay off of you and your guests!

#2 Leash for Control

If you are still struggling and have inadvertently rewarded jumping behaviors, you might need some help. When I am working with a chronic jumper be it puppy or adult dog, I utilize a leash in the house. It doesn’t have to be a long leash, it can just be a tab leash, but a leash gives me control of my dog’s body and space. If my dog jumps up, I can simply and quietly pluck him off of my body.

Again, I don’t yell or shout commands… I don’t want to reverse the effects and make this rewarding, I simply very quietly remove the dog and wait for an opportunity to reward the dog for four on the floor or sitting. Leashes are not just for taking your dog outside for a walk. Leashes help us teach our dogs and gain control of other bad behaviors too!

#3 Teach a Counter-Behavior

One method you can try is to ask for a counter behavior. For example, if you can tell that your dog is about to jump, ask for a sit instead. If your dog is sitting, they can’t be jumping. Reward your dog regularly for sitting and they will learn that sitting is more profitable and gets them what they want more often than jumping does. 

Your dog can’t sit and jump on you at the same time.well-behaved dog

Now, don’t get me wrong… he can go very quickly from a “sit” to jumping up, but, of course, he has to break the behavior/command in order to accomplish it.

He also can’t “lie down” and jump, and it is more difficult to spring up from a down command. This is why I always taught my potential Service Dogs to “down” when greeting new people.

Even rewarding your dog for keeping all four feet on the floor is helpful!

#4 Positive Reinforcement

When you’re working on preventing unwanted jumping, it can really help to keep some treats or rewards close at hand. As soon as your dog is standing in front of you with all four paws on the ground, toss it a treat or reward. Praise your dog as well, but keep things low key. Too much excitement and attention from you may stimulate another round of jumping, and we know you don’t like it when dogs jump. 

This all is based upon the theory of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when you reward or treat your puppy for good behavior, and that becomes the focus of your training. A treat, positive attention, or a reward is more likely to entice your dog into behaving than punishment, or negative reinforcement. Always keep plenty of treats or some other reward on hand. Find out what motivates your dog!

When your dog does the desired behavior – in this case, sitting or standing when greeting someone – give them a treat or reward to make certain that they will want to do it. Wanting to do something to earn a reward is a great motivator. Also, keep in mind that when you issue a command, there are infinite things that you don’t want your dog to do, and only one thing that you would like your dog to do. You can punish your dog for jumping, and it could stop jumping, but then it may paw at visitors as a greeting, rather than sitting or lying down. 

When finding the motivator for your dog, usually a treat is the most common reward, and many people will use this as part of their dog training. If your dog isn’t motivated by the treat that you are offering, try a different type of treat; dogs are almost always motivated by food. If that reward doesn’t still work, then many people use a toy as a reward during dog training with good results. The bottom line is to learn what your dog likes and reward it with the like.

Rewarding your dog with a treat will have much better results than punishment. Incorporating a clicker trainer into positive reinforcement makes it a piece of cake.

 

You MUST be Consistent

The most critical piece? Consistency!

You can’t expect your dog or puppy to learn that jumping is “wrong” if you allow it sometimes.

Plus, being inconsistent is unfair.

Make a pact as a family that no one will allow this behavior. Whatever training methods you choose to accept and apply, stick to them. Don’t compromise and be regular with making sure that your dog is not jumping.

You must be consistent!

This is why the puppy at my house has struggled. He can jump on some but not others. He has learned that if he sits or lies down he will be rewarded by me; but I am sure it is confusing for him that he can jump on some people but not others. Be fair and be consistent and you will sculpt the dog of your dreams!

 

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Comments

  1. Donna Spak says:

    Thanks for the information, how do I train my husband to stop letting our pets jump??? Lol.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I only do husband training with shock collars 😉

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks for the helpful advice.
    My 15 mo. Terrier jumps. barks,bites & gets visious.
    I’ve tried several things, nothing seems to work.

    [Reply]

  3. THANK YOU!!!!
    I have my second Berger Picard that jumps on me even if I’ve only been gone for 30 seconds. I am consistent with what I do. I just learned that I ‘ve been consistently doing the wrong things. I have gotten her to sit after she bounces on me a bit by never touching her until she sits down. Then I praise her profusely for being a good girl. Bacon now goes in my pocket and I will report back

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    be careful with bacon, it can cause pancreatitis, instead might I suggest boiled chicken or liver 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve made all three mistakes. In fact, the class to which I took my puppy told us to turn away and ignore him – it never worked.

    [Reply]

  5. Catherine Tucker says:

    Thank you for all of your training treasures. I have seen dramatic, positive changes in my pets behavior.
    I love your philosophy on dog companionship. I enjoy my dogs so much more and they are happier knowing what I expect.
    I have actually tried working with another dog trainer and his methods frightened ME as a person, I can’t imagine how my dog felt. I don’t want my pet to obey me out of fear nor do I want to “control” him. “We” just want
    to be able to understand each other better and live together happily. I can see you are also a dog lover.

    [Reply]

  6. Thank you for this. We have heard all the advice…turning our backs and telling our guests to turn their backs. It’s really embarrassing when you can tell your guest does not appreciate your dog’s feet on their nice, cashmere sweater! Another one? step into their space. This works sometimes but only for a short time. I think in my case the leash idea may be the best one, at first especially. And consistency? My husband enjoys having our dog get excited when he gets up or comes home from work, so this creates a major problem for me and our guests. I’m going to show him your post. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  7. Audrey Larsson says:

    11Neat advice..makes sense. Now to put it to work.

    [Reply]

  8. Ellen Hilderbrand says:

    Thank you for this tidbit. I was doing this correctly, I just needed to understand why. My dog loves to be petted and be right next to me. So, knowing how important this is to him I know I am on the right track.

    [Reply]

  9. Bonnie McKim says:

    Thanks for this great info. I need to stop yelling and start asking for the desired behavior and reward it.

    [Reply]

  10. Sharon Spinney says:

    Thanks this really helps. I have a jumper and have been turning my back, she also is counter surfer stealing everything from paper to food even utensils. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Leash and teach the dog manners

    [Reply]

  11. James Sutton says:

    My alias are 8 and 12 months. They are constant jumpers. Is it the breed or alowed behavior. Is has become a big problem.

    [Reply]

  12. Susan Hutchison says:

    Excellent suggestions

    [Reply]

  13. Claire Bridges says:

    Wow – this a fabulous article. Really helpful and can be applied to so many aspects of dog training. It just makes perfect sense. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  14. Lizz says:

    Thank you for the great advice. Turning my back has never worked for us, but I hadn’t considered either of the other options.
    I’ll start those immediately.
    REALLY love your articles. They’realways straight forward and not confusing. Also as I have 3 heathens, 2 under 12 months, your suggestions always workfor me and are a good reminder for my older Spoo to set the example.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    [Reply]

  15. Carol Black says:

    I have a very small dog and she is a jumper!! I have found the leash to an excellent tool. I appreciate this article however as I learned some new things about the “why” in her behavior. Thank you!!

    [Reply]

  16. Donna Villers says:

    Thanks For the input.

    [Reply]

  17. JenB says:

    Thank you for your helpful advice. Slowly getting my dog to stop jumping and any additional advice will help.

    [Reply]

  18. Jim says:

    Try taking a quick step backwards so that your dog misses your body altogether. Then, immediately put him in the “sit” position, and reward with a treat, praise and petting. He will learn to “cut to the chase” and sit quickly because this is where he is rewarded.

    [Reply]

  19. KVK says:

    My dog jumps up on a door. Since he’s on the other side from me, how do I stop this?

    [Reply]

  20. Marci says:

    Good advice, How do you stop an 7.5 mo old dog from jumping and grabbing my arm. She thinks it’s fun. It hurts. At wits end.

    [Reply]

  21. I agree to NEVER kick or hit a dog. Kneeing a dog in the chest to train it to not jump up on you is very different & not kicking it. I had a large dog, new from the dog pound, and it would run and jump up on my young children, and anyone else that went outside. Obviously it would knock the children down and hurt them. I read a book which had the Knee Technique in it & it was the best idea I’d heard.
    The theory is that the dog will believe that suddenly being on its back just after jumping up toward a human, is an act of God/Universe… IF the technique is done properly. (do NOT let the dog know YOU are the one causing it to fall back. Do not yell at the dog or act angry in anyway before or after kneeing it).
    1) Be prepared & ready for the oncoming dog BEFORE it jumps on you.
    2) Wait for it to have both paws up in air & almost touching you + it MUST be looking up at you.
    3) Briskly jerk one of your knees up & make sudden contact with the dogs chest, & hard enough to make the dog immediately be knocked backwards onto the ground.
    4) Then do not move & do stand still, waiting for the dog to get up.
    5) If the dog jumps up again, then repeat the ‘knee in chest’ tech again.
    If dog does not jump up, then pet the dog…reward it for not jumping.
    This is NOT torture because it works after doing it only a few times, which in my book is much more humane than having to return the dog to the dog pound.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    How about teaching the dog how to approach people and not jump?

    How about rewarding him for keeping his feet on the ground and to himself?

    I think that is the way that I would prefer to learn and teach.

    [Reply]

  22. Nanie says:

    How do we train our little Papillion’s out walking on the beach not to jump up at children/adults when off leash.

    [Reply]

  23. Robin says:

    I have the same problem with my impulsive husband. I’m going to try the following. I’ll have the dog on a leash and I’ll be ready with a clicker and treats when my husband comes home. I’ll have the dog in a sit-stay when Mark walks through the door. And Mark won’t be able to greet the dog until Bruno can sit quietly while Mark comes into the house and gets himself settled. If Bruno breaks the sit-stay, we’ll walk away from Mark and re-establish it. Otherwise, Bruno will get clicks & treats. I’ll have Mark walk up to Bruno’s off side and stand there until I release Bruno from the sit-stay. Then it’ll be Mark’s responsibility to reward Bruno with petting as long as Bruno keeps all four feet on the floor. It’s a lot of training work, but it’ll transfer to greeting others too, so it’s worth the effort.

    [Reply]

  24. Debi says:

    Great article! However I’m still stuck on how to get my dog to stop jumping up on the front door scratching when we drive up? I hate to do it but am seriously considering stretching a hot wire across front door & window. Us exit out the back. I know the wire now turned off stopped them from digging under the fence.

    [Reply]

  25. Jennifer says:

    I have a shepard pup and she is very very big and really packs a punch when she jumps up I’ve tried some of the things u have talked about but not the leash I will try this on next hopefully it work she is such a beautiful dog and I hate not having her in the house but I can’t let her in till the children go to bed for fear of her hurting them but not meaning to

    [Reply]

  26. Peggy says:

    My husband tought my cane corso that weights 150 ibs to give hugs which it means jumping up I keep telling him you are going to regret it that you trained him to give hugs he jumps all over people and I’m going to get a shock collar for my husband and try the leash training for my cc

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    hahahaha

    [Reply]

  27. Melanie Greaves says:

    I’ve found that I’ve been put of taking my Labrador to the park after she jumped on a lady and the husband humiliated me by shouting at me, so now I find myself fearful of walking my lovely natured dog in fear of not knowing who she’ll jump up on next ( it’s so hard to predict)

    [Reply]

  28. Andy bullard says:

    I am having a very hard time teaching my dog. This is what happens when someone comes to our house.

    When she gets excited or defensive, she runs really fast up from behind you and “kicks” you with both front feet as she goes jetting by. Really, it’s a flying kick to the back of your leg. She then will bark out of control at the person who has come through the door staying out of everyone’s reach, including mine. She bares her teeth, the hair on her back stands up all bristly and she gets in with her head low like she’s going to take a peice of you.

    I was trying to make her sit about 10 feet back from the door and no barking. After a few times of trying I met resistance from family members in the form of “it will never work”. They just would not stop yelling at the dog.

    When the dog finally is quiet and comes up for a greeting she looks like she’s cowering and as soon as you touch her she pees on the rug. So it’s either wild child or poor me peeing on the rug. It’s like she is Bi- polar but it can happen in an instant either way.

    Yes, she is a rescue. We got her when she was about 1 year old, picked up off the street. We have had her little over 2 years. She is Chihuahua mix but looks just like a miniture rotty, bent ears and broad chest and face. Crazy but she’s my kid.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    She should be on a leash and taught appropriate manners.

    [Reply]

  29. LAURA HOWARD says:

    appreciate the info .My recent rescue has separation anxiety and jumping up on my return home is terrible.I cant get in the door fast enough. I am making slight progress calmly saying off followed by sit and stay.He knows sit and stay. I will remember now to take a baggie with chicken treats with me to use when I return.He is a 4 yr. old poodle mix and so sweet and loving.

    [Reply]

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