Having a dog that jumps on people is one of the most common struggles amongst dog owners. While jumping may seem harmless when they’re young and small, it can become a dangerous habit when they get bigger and they’re able to knock down someone.
This is especially dangerous in households that have small children or older family members as there’s a higher chance of someone being knocked down and getting hurt. Learning how to stop a dog from jumping on people is crucial to prevent any damages and be able to live in a relaxed environment.
When families feel like their dogs are putting family members at risk, they might consider surrendering them, however, that’s a situation that can be avoided with the right strategy. You can develop one by considering the tips below.
1. Start by understanding why your dog jumps on people
Most people end up choosing dogs as pets due to their enthusiastic personalities. However, the enthusiasm dogs have for life can be shown through some unwanted behaviors such as jumping. Dogs show their emotions through their body language and jumping is part of it. When a dog jumps, it can have different meanings and, in order to identify it, you’ll need to take a closer look at what is triggering your dog’s jumping behavior.
Most of the time, dogs that jump on people are expressing happiness for seeing them and it’s a form of greeting they ended up developing. It’s a common form of getting attention and a very effective one as it’s hard for someone to ignore a dog jumping on them. Dogs jump when they’re excited to see us and also when they anticipate something they enjoy such as being fed, going for a walk, or playtime.
2. Stop rewarding your dog for jumping
As long as dogs see they’re getting attention whenever they jump on someone, they’re going to keep doing it. For most dogs, attention from humans is a better reward than food or toys. It doesn’t matter whether this attention is coming from their owners, strangers, or house guests. Everybody is able to reinforce this behavior.
It also doesn’t matter if this attention is in the form of petting or screaming. For dogs, there’s no such thing as good or bad attention, which means that people may have been inadvertently reinforcing this behavior for a long time. Even trying to push them away is a reward as they’ll see it as a wrestling game.
The only way to stop dogs from jumping on people is by eliminating all the rewards associated with it. This means not giving your dog the chance to even show this behavior, ignoring it, and teaching alternative behaviors.
3. Turn your back whenever your dog jumps on you
There’s only one way to ignore dogs that jump on people and that’s by turning your back on them without saying a word, making eye contact, and especially without touching or pushing. Be patient and wait until they have all four paws on the ground for you to turn around and reward that.
In order for this to be effective, you’ll need to do this every time your dog jumps on you which may feel repetitive but it’s really important that you stay consistent with your efforts. The more consistent you are, the quicker you’ll be able to stop your dog from jumping on people and teach it that you’re more likely to give it attention when all four paws are on the floor.
Another big part of keeping the training consistent is making sure that everyone is following the same directions and no one is rewarding your dog’s jumping behavior with any form of attention. Talk to everyone who interacts with your dog and explain to them what your goal is and how they can help.
4. Prevent jumping when greeting guests at home
Unfortunately, it’s possible that not every person that comes across your dog will know the rules and, if they do, that they’ll follow them. This means that you can’t only rely on ignoring your dog’s behavior to get rid of it. So, another tactic dog owners can use to ensure that their dogs aren’t rewarded for jumping is to prevent it from even happening, especially whenever they have guests over at their home.
There are several options to prevent this and the main goal is to keep your dog away from the door whenever the doorbell rings. This can mean using baby gates in your entranceway, putting your dog on a leash, or sending your dog to its bed or crate.
Keep your dog away from your guests when they arrive and only let it out once the guests are settled and your dog also seems to be calm. After that, use treats to keep your dog focused on yourself and away from the guests, or ask it to sit when greeting the visitors.
5. Work on training a different form of greeting
The final step to stop dogs from jumping on people is to teach them what they should do instead. It’s not only about showing them what they can’t do, it’s about teaching them what they can do that will get them the reward they’re looking for.
How you want your dog to greet people is up to you and you have two options. Either you simply want your dog to keep all four paws on the floor or you can take it a step further and teach your dog to sit or lie down when greeting someone. Here’s a high-level overview to make it happen.
- Greeting with all four paws on the floor: The goal is to prevent dogs from jumping by rewarding them even before they have the chance to even think about it. This means you’ll need to anticipate your dog’s jumping and place treats on the floor right before it happens.
- Greeting by sitting or lying down: The goal is to teach dogs that they’re rewarded while sitting or lying down and the rewards stop as soon as they get up. This also requires that your dog already nails the “sit” or “lie down” command beforehand.
Making sense of it all
It’s hard to stop a dog from jumping on people because most owners have been inadvertently rewarding this behavior with attention. You may find that, when you start putting these tips to practice, that your dog will jump more. Because they’ve been rewarded for so long, they think they just need to work harder to get your attention.
But stay strong and consistent when applying these tips. You’ll reap the rewards of your efforts sooner than you think.