How to Stop Jumping Up in Dogs

Two dogs on a leash leaning up on their hind legs against a woman. Parc LaFontaine. Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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Jumping up is a common behavior problem facing many dog owners. It's annoying to feel like you're being attacked by an excited and overly exuberant dog the minute you step through your front door. It can also be dangerous for small children. The good news is that you can train a dog to stop jumping.

Why Dogs Jump

There are a number of theories about why dogs jump up on people; popular among those are dominance and greeting behaviors. The truth is, however, that most dogs jump up to get your attention.

Many times people inadvertently reinforce this behavior by giving dogs what they want, even if it's negative attention. Dogs don't necessarily realize that you pushing them off or yelling at them to get down is meant as punishment. Instead, they view it as exactly what they're seeking: attention from you.

In this case, any attention from you is perceived as a reward. It makes sense then that instead of rewarding them for jumping, owners make it more rewarding for their dogs to keep all four paws on the floor.

How to Stop Jumping

Training your dog not to jump up on people will take patience and persistence. Also, there are actions you should take and things you should avoid. Be consistent with these steps and you'll be rewarded with a dog who doesn't jump up on anyone.

What Not to Do

A number of dog owners have heard about methods of training a dog not to jump that call for some form of punishment or aversive. One such method is a knee to the chest. Another is using leash corrections to get the dog off of you. There are several problems with these methods, including:

  • If either method is done too hard or incorrectly, you can seriously injure your dog.
  • When you use a knee to the chest, it may knock your dog down, but they may also interpret this as you initiating play. The dog's response will be to jump up again to continue playing because you're actually reinforcing the behavior you're trying to stop.
  • Your dog may learn not to jump up only when he's on ​a leash. Since most dogs aren't leashed 24/7, chances are your dog will have plenty of opportunities to get away with jumping.

Withhold Attention

The first part of teaching a dog not to jump involves withholding your attention. There are several ways to do this:

  • As soon as your dog jumps up, turn your back. Cross your arms over your chest, and don't make a sound. If the dog runs around to jump again, turn the other way. Wait for the dog to stop jumping.
  • Another method is to remove yourself altogether. If your dog jumps up when you walk in the door, turn around and walk back outside. If they jump up when you're inside, walk out of the room. Wait a moment, and step back inside. Repeat this until your dog is calm.

Reward Good Behavior

When you're working on preventing unwanted jumping, it can really help to keep some treats close at hand. As soon as your dog is standing in front of you with all four paws on the ground, throw them a treat. Give your dog praise, but keep things low key. Too much excitement and attention from you may stimulate another round of jumping.

Practice Makes Perfect

It helps if you can set up situations to practice with your dog. For instance, if the jumping occurs a lot when you first walk through the door, spend a few minutes a few times a day coming and going. Don't make a big fuss over the dog, and be sure to step back outside if they jump up. Offer a reward any time all four feet are on the floor.

Add a Sit Command

Once your dog is able to keep four paws on the floor for a few seconds or more, start asking them to sit. Walk into a room or through the front door, and give the command "Sit". As soon as the dog sits, offer a treat. Practice this over several training sessions. With lots of practice, your dog will be sitting as soon as you walk through the door or enter the room.

Practice With Other People

It's not enough that you practice with your dog. You should also involve friends and family in this training. Otherwise, your dog may only learn that it's not okay to jump up on you. Having other people help with this training will teach your dog to keep all four paws on the floor no matter who comes into the room.