Updated: Jul 4
It’s one of the most common behavior problems in dogs: You walk in the door and there’s the wagging tail! But that might also be immediately followed by excited jumping, paws pushing, and maybe some scratches or bruises.
Dogs jumping on you or others can be annoying and even dangerous. Jumping can lead to injuries or even bites. It can also cause someone to fall, which can be especially scary for a child, senior, or someone with physical disabilities.
Fortunately, it’s absolutely possible to train your dog not to jump, and it’s an issue BFF Canine Obedience in Cincinnati, Ohio, has lots of experience with! Below, we walk you through the whys of jumping and some easy steps you can take to train your dog to greet everyone more politely.
Why Does My Dog Jump?
The first step in training your dog not to jump is to understand why they do it in the first place.
There are a few reasons dogs may jump on you: to greet you nose to nose like they would with fellow canines, to establish dominance, or simply to get attention -- which, to your dog, is actually a great reward.
We often think of rewards for our dogs as treats or toys, but attention is often just as good -- even negative attention. So even if you’re not the kind of person to reward jumping behaviors positively, scolding or pushing your dog off is still making your pup think, “This action gets me attention.”
Dogs can also see the physical reaction to them jumping -- maybe you grab their paws or you nudge them off with your knee -- as an invitation to play, making it an even more desirable behavior to them.
Ignore the Jumping; Reward ‘Pawsitive’ Behaviors Instead
So, if giving your dog any attention just reinforces jumping, the logical solution is to just ignore it and they’ll stop, right? In theory, yes, but that’s not helpful to your dog.
Remember, you can’t just tell your dog what NOT to do. Instead, you have to teach them what they SHOULD do. “DO sit or lie down when a person comes in the door” is much easier for them to understand than “DO NOT jump when a person comes in the door.”
Instead of just ignoring your dog jumping on you, reward them whenever they greet you with all paws on the floor, whether they sit, lie down, or simply stand without jumping. There are a few ways you can accomplish this:
Use a leash to help teach a calmer approach:
Get an assistant.
Put your pup on a leash and have the assistant approach them.
As they’re approaching, throw some treats on the floor.
While your dog is eating the treats, have your assistant pet and greet them, then back away; if your dog jumps, have your assistant turn and walk away without acknowledging the jumping.
Repeat the above steps, extending the greeting each time.
Build to having the assistant greet your dog before you give them a treat. You can do this once your dog manages to keep all paws on the floor.
Eventually, give your dogs fewer treats until the greeting is their only reward.
Teaching your dog to sit or lie down as a greeting:
If your dog knows “sit” or “lie down,” have them do this while you’re a few feet away.
Walk toward them calmly. If they stand or jump, turn and walk back to the starting point and direct them to sit or lie down again.
Once you can approach them while they remain in place, praise them and give them a treat. If they stand or jump at any point, return to your starting point.
Once your dog masters sitting or lying down for the calm greetings, you can begin to make the greetings more exciting. And once they’ve mastered the greeting with you, enlist a friend and return to the first step. This will help teach them to greet everyone by sitting or lying down.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Like with every training practice, consistency is key. Everyone in the family has to be on board with the plan to train your dog not to jump and know what to do. This makes it much easier for your dog to learn and prevents confusion that can undo any progress.
When it comes to your dog greeting guests, make sure the guests know ahead of time how your dog should approach them, what to do if the dog jumps, and, likewise, the appropriate award for the polite greeting! Whether guests mind jumping, it’s important to stick to “all paws on the floor” greetings with no exceptions.
If you need help teaching your pup not to jump, BFF Canine Obedience is here for you! To learn how our team of professional dog trainers can help you with jumping or other unwanted behaviors, call 859-630-0746 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer a variety of group classes for dogs at all training levels, as well as private lessons!