Why Dogs Jump up and Down and How to Stop It

Dog standing
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Not only are dogs jumping on you generally annoying, but it can also be dangerous for people who aren’t as steady on their feet. It can make people very mad at your dog. 

Since dogs don’t use the same language we do, they cannot communicate with us in the same way. So we have to look at their actions and behaviors as their method of communication. 

Dogs Jump to Say Hello

If you have ever seen two dogs when they meet, they greet each other face to face, unless there is a massive size disparity. So, why are we surprised when that is how a dog wants to greet us? You come home from work and let your dog out, and they are excited to see you and excited to show you how much they have missed you. So they jump up on you to get closer and give you some love. 

How to Stop Dogs From Jumping to Say Hello

To stop this type of jumping, you need to be consistent in your training approach and try to encourage all family members and visitors to follow your lead. Your dog will take its cues from your body language and how you start the interaction.  Consistency is key so making sure each greeting follows the same rules will help your dog to learn what is expected of it.

The most common way to train your dog not to jump when greeting you is to use a combination of positive reinforcement for the behavior you want, and to ignore the behavior you don't want, which is the jumping. When you come through the door, try to greet your dog calmly so as not to overexcite it. If your dog jumps on you, turn your back to it and ignore your dog until it sits or waits calmly. Some trainers even recommend exiting the room. When your dog stops jumping and is calm, then you reward your dog with praise, treats, and attention.

While your dog is learning this new routine, it can be helpful to keep your dog's leash on so you can quickly get control if your dog is too excited. Some trainers also recommend using a head harness type of leash which allows gentle control of the head without hurting the dog. This can be especially useful if you need to prevent your dog from jumping on particular people.

At first, you may need to practice this under the most relaxed circumstances. For example, this could be when you have just left the room momentarily, as opposed to after you have been gone for long periods of time or when there are a lot of people around. As your dog gets used to what is expected, you can start to increase the distractions and the level of excitement by practicing these techniques after longer separations and when more people are present. It will also help if your visitors and family members follow the same pattern so as not to create confusion for your pup.

You can teach your dog other specific cues to help your dog understand what you do and do not want it to do. Helpful cues may include "sit" "snuggle," and even the "go to your bed" on command. The more cues your dog knows, the more you can communicate with your dog and help it understand what is expected and how to react under different circumstances.

If you want to teach your dog another way to show affection without jumping, a command such as "snuggle" or "hug" (or whatever term you choose) can be helpful. You can teach your dog that when you say that command and hold your hands down at its level, it can lean into your hands for pets and hugs. This way, your dog has another way to seek affection without jumping. In many cases, the praise and petting may be enough positive reinforcement for your dog to learn this cue and to start to do it on command. For some dogs, adding a treat to reward this behavior can provide even more motivation for it to follow the cue.

Dogs Jump out of Fear

If a dog is stressed or afraid, their demeanor and typical behaviors will change. If your dog starts jumping on you or certain people all of a sudden, it is worth taking note. Did something in their routine change? Can you identify certain triggers that happen right before your dog jumps? Does your dog show other signs of fear or anxiety such as separation anxiety when you leave, or fear of thunderstorms? Often anxious dogs will exhibit more than one behavior that is a sign of their anxieties but it can take time and patience to figure out what is setting your dog off.

How to Stop Dogs From Fearful Jumping

You may have a general idea that your dog is anxious based on other behaviors it shows, but if you need help figuring it all out, it can be very useful to work with an experienced dog trainer and/or veterinary behaviorist. They can help identify the triggers as well as to work with your dog on becoming desensitized to those fears.

Some techniques that they may suggest include giving your dog a safe space in your home, such as a crate or pen where your dog knows it can go when scared. Setting up a crate or pen as a safe space means it should be all positive associations; treats, toys, and other things your dog loves. Your dog should not be sent there as punishment or locked in, especially while you are establishing this. It can be a great tool to have when you know something fearful is going to happen and you need your dog to have a quiet place to retreat to.

If you can identify specific triggers, you can reduce your dog's fear in two main ways. The first way is to avoid those scary situations as much as possible to limit your dog's exposure to them. The second approach is to gradually try to desensitize your dog to its fear. This usually involves working in baby steps to get your dog comfortable with a fearful situation. A fearful dog should never be forced or intimidated into doing something scary. This can backfire by making your dog even more fearful, deteriorating the trust between you and your dog, and it can even lead to aggression if your dog feels desperate.

Dogs Jump Due to Poor Social Skills

Caring for a dog that was poorly socialized is a balancing act. It's about working with them slowly and patiently so they can experience new things, get used to living in your world, and minimize their fear and anxiety.

Dogs with poor social skills oftentimes just don’t know better. They lack the communication tools most dogs have so they are unable to read body language and respond the way other dogs would. These dogs can come from any background, whether a rescue or a puppy from a great breeder; if they didn't spend their formative puppy time surrounded by other dogs and lots of different experiences, they may not know how to react to these situations.

How to Stop Dogs With Poor Social Skills From Jumping

A dog with poor social skills may jump for a number of different reasons including excitement, fear, and/or aggression. The underlying reasons may change in various situations as well. Helping these dogs navigate the world can be challenging and in most cases, having an experienced dog trainer and/or veterinary behaviorist can be key to finding the right approach for your particular dog. These dogs often will need a combination of tools to prepare them for all different situations. This may include using cues to help your dog know what is expected and to give your dog some structure in situations that may be confusing or overstimulating. Some of these dogs may also benefit from avoiding certain situations, especially those with strange dogs, that can lead to aggression if your dog does not know how to read the body language of other dogs. Many of these dogs may respond to new situations by feeling fearful, so using the same techniques used for anxious dogs may be helpful as well. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for a dog who was under socialized as they each have their own personalities and will react to the world in different ways. It may help to keep a journal or list of how and when your dog has reacted by jumping on you (or other people and other dogs) so that you can start to learn its patterns. Luckily, there are many techniques that can help once your dog's specific patterns are identified.