Stopping Dogs from Jumping Up: The Easy Way
Stopping dogs from jumping up is easier than your think, yet it requires some work and some follow through. If all it took was 2 minutes of work and a magic wand, no one’s dog would ever jump again. However, even though it is easy it does require follow through, consistency and work, especially in the beginning.
First Things First
Don’t let it happen!
Imagine you are playing a very competitive internet game and the stakes are HIGH. I mean they are so high that if you do what you are supposed to you will have $10,000 waiting for you on the other side. But just one mistake reduces your take by more than $1,000. Are you intrigued?
You have 6 months and if you are successful after that, your take doubles to $20,000. It is your job, should you choose to accept it, to NEVER let your puppy jump up on anyone outside the family (I think we should be rational enough to understand that it will happen to you and immediate family and you can deal with that by properly teaching your puppy that jumping on you brings no reward). Would you do it?
Would you sign up? What if you had to pay double the money back if the dog kept jumping on people? Are you confident enough in your dog training and handling skills?
I AM! I would be taking the whole $20,000. I know it isn’t easy to keep a new or boisterous puppy or adult dog from jumping on someone during a greeting but consistency is what is important. I never want my puppy or adult dog to learn that he CAN jump on people because that also instills how much fun jumping up is…
But Jumping On People Is Fun
Dogs greet each other nose-to-nose and they want to do the same with us. Since our noses are not at their level, they jump up to reach them.
We know we shouldn’t encourage jumping, but a fuzzy puppy is just too cute to resist. We forget that cute behavior in a puppy can become a real nuisance when he grows up.
There’s nothing better than coming home to your excited puppy or dog. If you’re like me, there is no doubt the very first thing you’ll want to do is give him a great big hug and belly rub as your dog jumps all over your legs and in your face to get your attention.
Ok, so it may be pretty cute when he’s a little fur ball, but what will happen when your puppy grows into a 50+ pound dog with giant paws and the potential to knock you over?
It can be very confusing and distressing for your dog when he encounters inconsistency in the way you handle behavior.
If as a puppy your dog got lots of reinforcement in the form of praise and pats for jumping up, he will not understand why you are suddenly upset or angry (scary) when they try it as a larger adult dog.
Jumping on people and counters is fun for your dog but not so much for you, your guests, and especially any young children. Squealing and dancing and yelling paired with the sometimes batting, swiping, pushing, kicking, and poking to get your dog to stop jumping is often interpreted as playful rough housing and causes some over stimulation – Meaning your dog will run off abruptly then come back and use you as a trampoline.
Does your dog jump on you as if they’ve got springs on their feet? Like it or not, we humans are to blame. We not only permit this behavior, we encourage it. There are two good ways to prevent both of these unwanted behaviors: management and training.
How to keep your proverbial $20,000
Begin by teaching your dog incompatible obedience manners like these. I always liken this kind of training to the sad baby elephant in the circus. A big chain goes on the baby elephant to keep him in his space and from running away.
He struggles at first but he simply can’t achieve what he wants. Eventually he gives up. But as he grows, he could snap that chain, the difference is that he has been taught and conditioned that he cannot so he doesn’t even bother trying anymore.
Keep in mind, a dog cannot jump on someone if he is sitting. A dog cannot jump on someone if he is in a down position. Plus it gives him a basis of listening to you, learning and being rewarded.
The key to managing jumping up is to avoid reinforcing / rewarding your dog for jumping and instead rewarding it for sitting or at least having “paws on the floor”. Ideally it would be best to get into this habit from day one, but it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
Whenever your dog jumps on you, or tries to jump on you, immediately turn away, do not look at or speak to your dog. Then as soon as your dog gets down and has all four paws on the floor, reward him with immediate praise such as a click of the clicker or a verbal affirmation such as saying “yes” or “good” and ideally give a high value treat. Practice this over and over, and be very consistent.
Make sure you are on the ball with timing. You need to reinforce his desired behavior within 0.5-1 second for your dog to associate it clearly with his actions. The other important thing to do is teach and practice an alternative behavior for your dog to do which is incompatible with jumping up at you.
Teach your dog to reliably sit on cue when asked. Do this using his favorite treat – Lure your dog to sit down by holding the treat above his nose and dragging it backwards above his head to encourage your dog to look up and lean backwards. As soon as his bottom hits the ground, say your verbal praise and give him his treat.
Repeat this over and over through the course of days or even weeks until he strongly makes the connection. This means that your dog will learn that good things happen when he sits and that this is the most effective way for him to get your attention – there is no need to jump on you.
If your dog learns that by sitting calmly he will gain your attention and have his wants and needs met then you’re giving him control over his social environment. By having these consistent structured interactions your dog will not feel the need to jump on you. This helps alleviate any anxiety and helps your dog to feel more confident.
Stop your dog from jumping up
Allowing your dog to jump on yourself or other people can be dangerous.
You can end up scratched and bruised. A child or frail adult can be knocked down and seriously injured. Solving a behavior problem like jumping requires both management of the situation and training your dog.
Management means you need to control the situation so your dog doesn’t have the opportunity to jump up. Use management techniques until your dog is adequately trained not to jump.
As an example, let’s take the dog that jumps on visitors. To manage your dog’s behavior, you could do one of the following before your guest arrives:
— Put your dog in their crate.
— Confine them in another room.
— Restrain your dog on a leash.
This will prevent the jumping while they are learning proper manners and the expected behavior.
It is important to be consistent. Everyone in your family must follow the training program all the time. You can’t let your dog jump on people in some circumstances, but not others.
Training techniques: When your dog…
Jumps on other people:
Anticipation and management are the first steps in any training plan.
To manage your dog jumping up on people who enter your home, anticipate the action and put things into place to prevent the unwanted behaviors from happening. I suggest installing baby gates to prevent your dog from having access to the front door.
This way, you can keep him from being a hyper jumping bean and give him the time to calm down before he greets your guests.
Using his crate is also effective, as long as your dog has been (hopefully) crate trained. Another option is to keep your dog tethered to you on his leash when visitors come over so you can control his actions.
As I mentioned above, pushing your dog off of a person, although a natural reaction, will often lead to a fun game for the dog and not so much for you or your guests.
Have a friend or family member help you with this next part. Place your dog on leash, and ask him to sit. Keeping your dog on leash allows you to have a little more control if he gets too excited. Have the other person approach you at a slow walk. Repeat this exercise until your dog can stay sitting as the other person approaches. Reward your dog for his efforts — this is hard work!
Once your dog can stay in a sit while the other person approaches, you can practice having him stay in a sit while you shake hands with the person or while the person calmly pets him — which is probably what your dog wants anyway! Practice with as many people as possible.
The next step will be to practice with your dog on leash as your helper enters through the door. Ask your dog to sit next to you as you open the door. If he stands up or tries to jump, have your guest leave and close the door. Try again, and when your dog is able to sit calmly as the person enters, give him a treat. When he can do that consistently, begin practicing off leash.
The end goal is to have your dog remain sitting while you open the door and your guests enter. You also want your canine companion to respond to the sit cue from other people.
— Ask a family member or friend to assist with training. Your assistant must be someone your dog likes and wants to greet. Your dog should never be forced to greet people who scares them.
— Give your dog the “sit” command. (This exercise assumes your dog already knows how to “sit.”)
— The greeter approaches you and your dog. If your dog stands up, the greeter immediately turns and walks away.
— Ask your dog to “sit,” and have the greeter approach again.
— Keep repeating until your dog remains seated as the greeter approaches.
— If your dog does remain seated, the greeter can give your dog a treat as a reward.
When you encounter someone while out walking your dog, you must manage the situation and train your dog at the same time.
— Stop the person from approaching by telling them you don’t want your dog to jump.
— Hand the person a treat.
— Ask your dog to “sit.”
— Tell the person they can pet your dog and give them the treat as long as your dog remains seated.
Some people will tell you they don’t mind if your dog jumps on them, especially if your dog is small and fluffy or a puppy. But you should mind. Remember you need to be consistent in training. If you don’t want your dog to jump on people, stick to your training and don’t make exceptions.
Jumps on you when you come in the door:
- Keep greetings quiet and low-key.
- If your dog jumps on you, ignore them. Turn and go out the door.
- Try again. You may have to come in and go out dozens of times before your dog learns they only gets your attention when they keep all four feet on the floor.
Here’s a video of what this process looks should look like:
Jumps on you when you’re sitting:
If you are sitting and your dog jumps up on you, stand up. Don’t talk to your dog or push them away. Just ignore them until all four feet are on the ground.
Use the best rewards ever!
At my house my freshly baked and slightly dehydrated liver treats are better than any visiting human, as it should be. I don’t mind my dog learning that visitors bring rewards; but they should be bringing the mediocre boring rewards that bring minimal joy. If THEY have the liver your dog wants and they are baby talking your dog and petting him, what do YOU have to keep your dog well behaved?
Nothing, you would have absolutely nothing.
I Must Control My Dog and All Wonderful Things
Throughout the rest of my dog’s life, I need to be the most interesting, exciting and rewarding thing to him.
I want to be his best friend and the person that takes care of all of his needs. I can’t let anyone else become more fun than me or I lose the ability to control him.
So When People Come Over…
So when people come over to my house, I have a leash hanging near the door. I have a laminated sign outside the door that says, “Please give us a moment while we put Scruffy on a leash. He is in training and he WILL NOT be allowed to jump on you.
Please help us keep yourself and our family safe while we work on his training.” Then with my dog on a short leash sitting at my left side I swing the door out and encourage people inside. If he leaps up, I tell my guests to step back out until he can contain himself. (if these are important visitors then crate the dog).
I simply don’t allow my dog close enough to develop the behavior of jumping. Once he has stopped trying to jump at all and has learned good and calm manners we revisit greetings. But I still keep him on a leash and if he were to pull or pounce he loses a privilege.
If he greets with a calm and quiet attitude I REWARD HIM WITH HIS FAVORITE TREATS or toy. He should be listening and being obedient for the treats I have. This usually also ensures he follows me around and not them.
Friends and family can help prevent jumping up
Everyone in the family needs to participate in preventing jumping up. One rule must be applied for all, and that includes visitors. When you are expecting visitors make sure they understand the process and why it is necessary to follow your instructions.
If you like you can also involve your visitor by providing them with a selection of treats so they too can reinforce good behavior.
Whatever the case, a bottom and all four paws must be on the ground to receive any attention.
Other tips for family and visitors:
— Manage the situation to set your dog up for success.
— Train your dog to go to a mat or crate on cue whenever a visitor arrives. This will avoid an excited exuberant uncontrollable reaction at the front door. Make sure they have an amazing treat or chew to keep them busy.
— Practice calm meeting and greeting by having your dog restrained on a harness or head halter and allowing them to sniff the visitor and reward them for having all four paws on the ground or sitting down.
— Ask your visitors to greet your dog quietly and calm.
In general, whenever your dog does something you don’t like, don’t punish them. This will just make them confused and anxious. Instead live by the motto: “Don’t do that, do this instead!” Redirect them into doing an incompatible more appropriate behavior such as coming to you and sitting or going to lie on their bed.
Ensure you give them fabulous rewards when they comply. Consistency is the key, people often give mixed messages to dogs. Make sure you never inadvertently or deliberately reward them for the things you don’t want to encourage, instead generously praise and reward the good stuff!
Jumping up on counters, or counter surfing, is a common problem. Management is key to teaching your dog to keep his paws to himself.
It’s important to understand why dogs counter-surf in the first place: they want the food that’s up there.
Counters are often covered in the tasty smells from last night’s dinner or this morning’s breakfast. Even more enticing are crumbs to taste or dirty dishes.
Our dogs watch us make meals on the counters, and they naturally want to get in on the action.
Also, many people often keep bread, dog treats, and other yummy things on their counters. When a dog is left unsupervised with access to the kitchen, it’s quite easy for him to be rewarded for counter-surfing without the owner even realizing it.
Step two is to keep your counters and sinks clear of any temptation.
This is a lot harder than it sounds for a busy family. Wiping up after meals, keeping the sink clean of dishes, and storing edibles in cabinets will help keep your dog from getting unintentionally reinforced for investigating the counters.
Offering enticing, safe chew toys outside of the kitchen is a good way to keep your canine companion’s attention focused elsewhere.
Finally, you can teach your pup the “leave it” cue for those moments when he tries to make a move.
It takes time and consistency, but with a little extra training you can curb your dog’s behavior! I could get that $20,000 no problem. But what is better???
Better than any $20,000 is a well behaved dog that doesn’t bother your guests because his training has been consistent and impeccable!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.