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The essentials

  • Understand the reasons behind your dog’s behavior — Dogs often jump up as a way of greeting, seeking attention from their humans, and as a way of showing enthusiasm and curiosity.
  • Consistent training is key — Regularly train your dog to ignore strangers and remain calm around visitors. Reward good behavior to reinforce the learning process.
  • Seek professional guidance if needed — If you’re struggling with training or socialization, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional trainer or dog behaviorist. They can provide valuable advice and techniques tailored to your dog’s needs.

Being a pet parent can be a joyous journey, but there are times when our furry friends’ behavior can leave us puzzled and even frustrated. One such behavior is when a dog jumps up at strangers on walks or on guests in the home. 

If you’re wondering how to stop your dog from jumping on people, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll share effective strategies for curbing this unwanted behavior, including:

  • Teaching your dog to sit and stay while on a leash
  • Rewarding your dog for good behavior 
  • How to guide your pet away from those they might jump on

Why do dogs jump on people?

Understanding why your dog behaves a certain way is the first step towards addressing the issue effectively. Dogs are social animals, and they often jump on people to express their excitement or seek attention

When puppies are small, this behavior is usually seen as adorable, and it often gets rewarded inadvertently with giggles, petting, or treats. As dogs grow older, this behavior can become problematic, especially if your dog jumps up at strangers on walks.

In the wild, dogs jump up to greet each other face-to-face, as it’s a natural way for them to interact. So, when your dog jumps up on people, it may simply be trying to say hello in a way that feels instinctively right to them. However, while this behavior may be rooted in your dog’s natural instincts, it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or safe.

How to train your dog not to jump on people

Training your dog not to jump on people is a process that calls for patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement . It’s important to remember that your dog isn’t trying to upset you when he jumps up; he’s simply behaving in a way that feels natural to him. Our job as pet parents is to guide our dogs towards more appropriate behavior.

Each of the following steps can be used individually or together to create a comprehensive training plan. Let’s dive into these effective strategies to help you understand how to stop your dog from jumping on people.

Manage the behavior while they learn

While training your dog to stop jumping on people, it’s important to manage their behavior effectively. This means creating an environment that reduces their opportunities to jump on people. For instance, if your dog tends to jump on visitors, consider keeping them on a leash or in another room until they calm down.

Managing your pet’s behavior also involves staying calm and patient. Dogs can pick up on our emotions, so if you react with frustration or anger, your dog might become more excited or nervous, leading to more jumping. Remember, this is a learning process for your dog, and it will take some time for them to fully understand what you expect from them.

Teaching dogs to sit when greeting people

One effective technique to stop your dog from jumping on people is to teach them to sit when greeting others. This method not only promotes good manners but also provides an alternative behavior for your dog. Here’s a simple way to do it:

Find the right environment — Begin the training in a quiet, familiar environment where your dog can focus. This could be a specific room in your house that’s free from distractions like toys, other pets, or loud noises.

Use treats as motivation — Stand in front of your dog and hold a treat in your hand, but don’t let them have it just yet. The smell and sight of the treat will grab your dog’s attention and motivate them to follow your command.

Command and demonstrate — Say “sit” in a clear, firm voice. If your dog doesn’t understand at first, gently guide their hindquarters into the sitting position while repeating the command. Always ensure you’re gentle and patient during this process. You can also guide them to a sit by moving your hand with the treat over their head. This will cause their head to tilt up and naturally ease them into a sit. 

Reward and praise — Once your dog sits, immediately reward them with the treat and praise them enthusiastically. This positive reinforcement helps your dog associate sitting on command with a positive outcome.

Consistent practice — Practice this command multiple times a day, ensuring to reward and praise every successful attempt. Consistency is key in reinforcing this new behavior.

Increase difficulty gradually — Once your dog has mastered sitting on command at home, start practicing in various environments with more distractions. This could be in your backyard, at a park, or during walks. Remember to bring treats for rewarding your dog.

Introduce people — Finally, once your dog reliably sits on command even in distracting environments, start introducing people. Ask friends or family members to approach your dog. If your dog stays seated, reward them. If they start to jump, have the person step back and repeat the process until your dog remains seated during greetings.

By following these steps with patience and consistency, you’ll be well on your way to having a well-behaved dog who stays grounded during greetings.

The simple “four on the floor” method

The “four on the floor” method is a simple yet effective strategy to discourage jumping. The idea behind it is straightforward: your dog gets attention and rewards only when all four paws are on the floor. Here’s how to apply this technique:

Withhold attention and praise when they jump — The trick to this method is all in the name. So, when your dog jumps up, turn away and ignore them. Never offer attention – good or bad – when your dog jumps.

Time your rewards just right — You want to train your dog that having all four paws on the floor is the correct behavior. When all four paws are grounded, give your dog attention, praise, or a treat. Timing is critical here in the early stages of training. Consider incorporating clicker training to help consistently mark good behaviors.

Repeat with consistency While you’re teaching this method, any deviation from having four feet on the floor should not be rewarded with any kind of attention. If your dog jumps, ignore them. When they are in full contact with the floor – either in a sit or just standing – that is the time to reward them. 

Practice this method consistently until your dog understands that keeping all four paws on the floor leads to rewards.

A note about ignoring bad behavior

Ignoring bad behavior is an essential part of training your dog not to jump on people. This means not rewarding your dog with any form of attention when they jump up. To effectively communicate with your dog that you disagree with their behavior turn away, cross your arms, and completely ignore your dog until they stop jumping.

Only when your dog stops jumping and calms down can you reward them with attention and praise. This will help your dog understand that jumping up leads to being ignored, while calm behavior leads to rewards.

Other times to stop your dog from jumping

Training your dog not to jump isn’t just about greeting people. It’s also valuable in other scenarios, like when you come home, when you’re sitting, or when guests arrive. Dogs often express their excitement or seek attention by jumping, but with consistent training and patience, they can learn more appropriate ways to interact.

Jumping on you when you’re sitting

Dogs often jump on their owners when they’re sitting as a way to seek attention or show affection. While it might seem endearing, this behavior can become problematic, especially with larger breeds. It’s crucial to discourage this behavior by ignoring your dog when they jump and rewarding them when they are calm and seated.

Jumping on you when you come home

Coming home to an excited, jumping dog can be overwhelming and potentially dangerous, especially if you have a large dog. This is an instinctive greeting behavior in dogs. To manage this, try not to greet your pup immediately upon entering. Wait until your dog calms down, then reward them with attention and praise. Over time, your pet will understand that calm behavior leads to rewards.

Jumping on the door or wall

Some dogs may jump on doors or walls out of excitement, anxiety, stress, or boredom. This behavior can lead to property damage and potential injury to your pet. Distracting your dog with toys or activities can help to alleviate this issue. Keeping them mentally and physically stimulated will also help relieve any pent-up energy or stress.

If your dog continues to jump on walls or doors, it may be worth consulting with a professional trainer, behaviorist, or a veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.

When to seek professional help

Training your dog not to jump can sometimes be a challenging task, and it’s okay to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed. In some cases, a dog’s jumping might be more than just an expression of excitement—it could be a symptom of deeper behavioral issues. Engaging with a professional trainer or behaviorist can be extremely beneficial.

If your dog needs to learn basic manners or tricks, a dog trainer would be a good choice. But if your dog has deeper issues—like aggression or extreme fear—that need addressing, you might need the help of a dog behaviorist. In some cases, you might even employ both – a trainer to teach commands and a behaviorist to tackle more complex behaviors.

Look out for these problem behaviors that may indicate the need for professional intervention:

  • Your dog’s jumping is accompanied by aggressive behavior like growling or snapping.
  • Your dog is causing harm to themselves or others while jumping.
  • You’ve tried consistent training methods, but your dog continues to jump excessively.
  • Your dog becomes overly anxious or stressed when prevented from jumping.

Remember, there’s no shame in reaching out to professionals who have extensive experience in handling different dog behaviors. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), the certifying board for veterinarians who specialize in animal behavioral health, can help you find a licensed dog behaviorist in your area. 

Training your dog not to jump on people can seem like a daunting task, but remember, every step you take is a step towards a more harmonious relationship with your furry friend. You’re doing an amazing job, and it’s essential to keep in mind that these things take time. Your patience, understanding, and consistent effort are what will help your dog learn. 

If you ever feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. There’s a whole community of pet lovers and experts who are ready to support you. Keep going, and remember – every day is a new learning opportunity for both you and your dog. Happy training!

Frequently asked questions

Why do dogs jump up on people?

Dogs often jump up on people as a way of greeting or seeking attention. It’s a natural behavior that stems from their early days as puppies when they would jump up to lick their mother’s face. Dogs might also jump to smell or reach something that has caught their interest. Remember, it’s not a sign of bad manners—it’s just how dogs communicate their enthusiasm and curiosity.

How do I train my dog to ignore strangers?

Training your dog to ignore strangers requires patience and consistency. Start by teaching your dog the “leave it” or “ignore” command. Use treats to reinforce positive behavior when they obey these commands. Gradually expose your dog to different environments with new people, always rewarding calm behavior. If your dog struggles with this, consider seeking help from a professional trainer or behaviorist.

How do I desensitize my dog to visitors?

Desensitizing your dog to visitors is all about creating positive associations. Start by having a friend or family member visit regularly. Keep your dog on a leash at first, rewarding them for calm behavior. Gradually increase the number of visitors and the frequency of visits while continuing to reward your dog for maintaining calmness. Over time, your dog should start to feel more comfortable around visitors.

Is it too late to socialize my dog?

It’s never too late to socialize your dog! While early socialization during puppyhood is ideal, older dogs can still learn new behaviors. Start slow, introduce your dog to new experiences gradually, and always make sure those experiences are positive. Seek professional guidance if you’re unsure—dog trainers can offer invaluable advice and techniques to help socialize your dog at any age.

Does ignoring a dog’s jumping work?

Ignoring a dog’s jumping can be an effective part of your training strategy. Dogs often jump up for attention, and by ignoring them, you’re teaching them that jumping doesn’t achieve what they want. However, it’s important to combine this with other training methods, like redirecting their energy to a more positive behavior and rewarding them when they behave appropriately. Always ensure you’re consistent with your approach.