How to stop your dog jumping up at people, once and for all 

February 15, 2022
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Does your dog jump all over everyone who comes to your home? Or leap up at people when out on walks?

It can be embarrassing, frustrating, and even dangerous if kids or vulnerable people are involved. 

Whether you have a big or small dog, it’s a vital life skill for everyone’s comfort to teach your dog not to jump up. 

Your dog will be more relaxed, as will any people who come to your home or you meet out on walks. 

So let’s talk about how you can stop your dog jumping up, once and for all. 

Why do dogs jump on you?

First, we need to understand why dogs jump up in the first place. There are three main reasons that dogs jump up on people. 

  • To express excitement
  • To get attention
  • To expel nervous energy

Jumping up is a naturally rewarding behaviour for your dog. 

If your dog is excited to see people, they may struggle to contain themselves. Unfortunately, jumping all over you or your guests is their current way of disposing of that excited energy, so we need to teach them what to do instead. 

Your dog may jump up at you or other people to get attention. It’s important to remember that any attention is a reward to your dog if this is the motivation behind their jumping. Therefore, we need to teach our dogs what to do instead and refrain from giving attention to the jumping up. 

For some dogs, jumping up is misinterpreted as excitement when in fact, it’s their way of burning off nervous energy. If your dog is unsure of new people or nervous about touch, then you may see your dog jumping up with ears back and perhaps licking you or your visitors. 

The #1 training tip for teaching your dog not to jump up

The #1 thing you need to do if you want to teach your dog not to jump up is to be consistent with your messaging. 

You may not mind your dog jumping on you, and some of your dog mad visitors may be ok with it, but your dog can’t tell the difference between when it’s ok and when it’s not.  

We need to have a consistent message that jumping up on people isn’t ok! And that means that even your friends or family members who love your dog leaping all over them need to be on board with your training. 

So prep your family and any visitors to let them know you’re working on stopping your dog from jumping up, and you need them to help with your training. 

How to stop your dog jumping up at people indoors

When it comes to training your dog to do anything, there are three things we need to plan for to make the training a success. 

  • Management – what are you going to do when you can’t train
  • Difficulty – how are you going to make it easy for your dog to succeed
  • Rewards – what is going to be really appealing to your dog

Management is about having a plan of action for when you can’t actively give attention to training your dog. For example, when guests arrive, or you get in from work, you could ensure your dog doesn’t have access to rush at the front door and start jumping up, or you could use a lead. 

You can use baby gates, a crate or a pen to keep your dog from charging at people when they first enter your home. 

Difficulty is a crucial factor to consider. Eventually, you may have a goal that your dog can be off lead and free to approach visitors without jumping up, but this is an unrealistic place to start.

Your dog is learning a new skill, and they have likely had quite a bit of practise when it comes to jumping up at people. So in order to teach your dog not to jump up, we need to make that an easier choice for them when we start. 

Rewards are essential to teaching your dog something new. You’ll need some really high value treats when you start your training – which means something very delicious that your dog can’t get enough of. This could be cheese, chicken or smelly fish treats!

how to stop dog jumping up

10 steps to training your dog not to jump up

When you are working on your dog not jumping up at you, you will need to use a barrier or containment to prevent them from immediately accessing you when you come into the house. 

If you’re working on your dog jumping up at visitors, then you could simply use a lead depending on how high their excitement levels are. Remember, we don’t want to make it too difficult for your dog to start with, so start with a barrier if being in the same room is too exciting.

  1. Decide what management method you will use to prevent your dog from being able to get close enough to jump up. For example, use a lead, a baby gate or a pen to prevent physical contact.  
  1. Keep some high value treats near the front door and in a treat bag on you as you move around your home if your dog jumps up for attention at other times. 
  1. You need to teach your dog a solid sit before you start your training so that you have an alternative behaviour to ask your dog to do. This means your dog needs to be able to sit when asked until they are released from the position (even around distractions)
  1. While you perfect your dog’s sit cue, use management to prevent your dog from jumping up at you. 
  1. Once your dog can reliably sit and stay in position when asked, even around distractions, you are ready to begin your training. 
  1. With your treats at the ready, ask your dog to sit when you suspect they may be gearing up for jumping.
  1. Reward your dog on the floor to encourage them to keep their paws on the floor. The delivery of your treats is really important – if you reward high, your dog is more likely to be tempted to jump up.
  1. To begin with, you’ll need to give your dogs treats in quite quick succession so that they really grow to love sitting much more than jumping.
  1. As your dog begins to find it easier to resist the urge to jump and stay seated, you can extend the time gradually between treats.
  1. When you release your dog from their sit, give them something to do so they don’t create a new habit of sitting, then jumping up! This could be a stuffed kong, a snuffle mat to help them calm down, or a chew to go and settle down with. 

How to stop your dog jumping up at people when out walking

If your dog likes to jump up at people when you are out on walks, then you can use a similar training plan to that above. 

The first thing you need to do is identify what triggers your dog to jump up so that you can be ready to ask your dog to do an alternative behaviour instead. 

  • Practise perfecting your sit cue at home and on quiet streets without distractions first
  • Ask your dog to sit sporadically on your walks to build the behaviour, even when there are no people around
  • Keep your lead short when a person approaches when you begin your training
  • Have high value treats on you at all times, and don’t forget to reward frequently when you start training

For dogs who find people the biggest reward in the world, you may find that treats don’t cut it. If this is the case, you will need to increase your distance from people while following the above steps. 

If your dog can’t resist the urge to run and jump up at people when offlead, then you’ll need to work on your recall training. Learn how to master recall training with your dog here. 

In the meantime, use a longline lead so that you are able to prevent your dog from practising the behaviour. 

As your dog practises this new behaviour at a distance, they will slowly be able to manage it and closer range to people. 

Get help with training your dog not to jump up

If you are struggling with teaching your dog not to jump up, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Our group dog training classes work on teaching foundation behaviours that can help you learn how to train your dog and progress their new habits. We cover jumping up as well as recall, settle and scentwork too.  

Or, if you’d like to focus on solving your specific problem, then my 1-2-1 dog training sessions are exactly what you need. Together we will look at your dog’s behaviour, what motivates them and the best way for your dog to learn to keep their paws on the floor! 

Get in touch to book now or discuss what the right service is for your dog. 

Alex bracken dog training Banstead Epsom Ewell Cheam Woodmanstern Coulsdon Purley Caterham Chessington Ewell

Bracken Dog Training was established in 2013 offering in person and online training for all ages of dogs.

I am a member of the PPG working towards my APDT membership and I regularly take part in various dog trainer seminars and workshops

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