It doesn’t matter how much you love your dog, a four-foot-tall canine jumping on you is not something anyone wants to experience. What’s more, your pup may be suffering from a behavioral problem that desperately needs correction.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stop this habit in its tracks before it becomes such an annoyance that you’re ready to give up the pet all together.
What Is Jumping?
Before we can learn how to stop a dog jumping, it is important to understand what exactly this undesirable behavior is.
Your dog is not being malicious or trying to be aggressive when he jumps on you. He’s just trying to greet you in the way he thinks is appropriate or gets the attention he wants. In his mind, jumping up is a form of communication, so dogs are not intentionally being “bad” when they jump on you.
Here are some examples of where your dog may jump on you:
When you come through the door and he wants to play.
When he wants to say hello (a common greeting behavior). This can be especially problematic if there is a paper leash or other restraint keeping him from jumping right up. He is trying to communicate that he’d like to play, but is not being allowed.
To get your attention so that you won’t ignore him or shove him off immediately.
If he believes that jumping is the only way to get you to come into the room.
To get your attention when there is a distraction. If your dog notices a squirrel outside the window, he may try to get your attention by jumping on you – even though no interaction with him is desired at that moment.
Puppies learn from their mothers and other dogs (imprinting) what behaviors are appropriate and which ones are not.
When your dog is very young, you’ll want to be careful not to reinforce the jumping behavior by giving him attention when he jumps on you or shoving him off, because those reactions make it more likely that the jumping will continue. Most dogs do outgrow this sort of behavior and learn that jumping up doesn’t get them what they want or results in being reprimanded.
What Causes Jumping Up?
When a dog jumps up, it is usually because he’s looking for attention. It can also be caused by a medical problem or certain types of training.
Some dogs are much more likely to jump up than others for a couple of reasons: their breed and their socialization as puppies. Those that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to jump on people (this goes for male dogs as well).
How To Stop The Jumping?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to redirect your pup’s attention before he jumps up. The key is to be consistent, so that your dog doesn’t think it’s okay to jump up all the time, but just not when you’re holding a spray bottle. You want him to learn that jumping up is never appropriate, whether or not you spray him.
So make sure you teach your dog right from the start what you want him to do instead of jumping on people – preferably with the help of a professional trainer. Here are some ideas.
1. Ignore Your Dog
Your dog wants attention, and the best way to redirect his energy is to ignore him. If you want your dog to stop jumping on you, the first thing you’ll want to do is stop paying attention to him when he does it so he’ll stop doing it in the first place. What this means is that whether you’re in the house or outside, whenever your dog jumps up on you, you will stop what you’re doing and ignore him.
Do not talk to your dog or look at him, pet him, give him any attention whatsoever. If he jumps on you and there are other people around, ask them to stop talking to your dog or looking at him. You want to make sure that the only way he can get attention is by not jumping on you.
2. Correct Your Dog
Once he has realized that no one is paying attention to him when he jumps, he will stop trying to climb up on you. But because his curiosity will have gotten the better of him, your dog will want to know what you’re doing. If you’re in the middle of working on a project, or you’re busy doing something in another room and your dog jumps up on you, just ignore him.
The second time your dog jumps up, make a loud “Ack!” sound and push him away. You don’t want to hurt your dog, so if you can just get him off of you by pushing him away or guiding his paws off of your lap, that’s fine. You may want to put aside a specific object that you can use specifically for this purpose. However, do not use objects that could be used as weapons against you, such as metal rulers or spray bottles.
After the first couple of times, you will positively reinforce the behavior. When he jumps up on you, simply follow through with the technique. Say “Ack!” and push your dog off of you in the same way that he would have been pushed off by a spray bottle or special “no jumping” object.
If your dog is still very young (under one year old), the “Ack!” should be pretty loud – but not so loud that your neighbors or people who are outside can hear it through the window.
3. “Punish” Your Dog
If your dog has never been corrected when he jumps up, the easiest way is to use a spray bottle. Dogs that have been properly socialized will always know what’s coming and will run away once they have been sprayed. If this doesn’t work, it may be necessary to get professional help.
Put down the bottle and say “No!” firmly but calmly if your dog jumps up on you again. Never throw the bottle at your dog. If your dog keeps jumping up on you, wait at least a minute before trying to spray him the second time.
If you try this method a couple of times and it doesn’t work, make sure that you’re using a real bottle of water – not some other type of spray – and that it is filled with water only, never something like dishwashing liquid or antifreeze.
Another option is to make a “time out” box in which you can put your dog whenever he does something that is disliked. Stand within hearing distance of the box and call him back to you when he goes into the box. Once he comes back, praise him and give him his favorite toy or treat. It may be necessary to repeat this a few times before it sinks in.
4. Create a Plan
If your dog’s jumping gets out of hand, you may want to try creating a plan with other family members. Your partner may be the one who has to start going up the stairs first so that your dog cannot follow. Or you may decide that the family member with less patience will give in and let him get on the couch, or whoever is alone with him in the yard will have to take him for a walk until he calms down enough to be trusted around kids or other dogs.
If you have a dog with a lot of energy, you can use the “stay” command to keep him calm in your yard. Put the dog on a leash, walk him around for a couple of minutes, then call him back and praise him.
Lowering your dog’s stress level may require some work on your end as well. You may have to take your dog on a long car ride, or try giving him a long walk instead of leaving him in the yard alone.
5. Teach Your Dog to be Comfortable with Other Dogs
If your dog is acting out because he sees other dogs interacting positively, you should first start with positive interactions. When you are out walking with your dog, watch for other dogs and tell him what they are doing so that he will learn to react similarly when the time comes.
If you are on a walk and notice that your dog is growling or trying to push past another dog, stop walking and try again later in a more appropriate situation.
You can also teach him to be comfortable around other dogs by exposing him to different types of dogs over time. One way to do this is to take your dog to a park that has different kinds of dogs all around so that he will see lots of different dogs.
6. Reward Good Behavior
Nearly everyone has heard of the “clicker” training method but many of us are unsure about how to use it. A clicker is a training device that can be used in place of verbal praise to reinforce good behavior with your dog. This helps your dog associate positive behavior with something great happening and reinforces his good habits.
The best way to stop your dog from jumping is to find the cause of the behavior. For example, if you find that your dog jumps on guests because it wants attention, then just give it more attention. If it jumps on you because it wants to play, then you should play with it and ignore its behavior. So if your dog suddenly starts jumping up, then you should inspect the situation carefully and maybe hire an expert to help you out.