Why do dogs jump? This natural behavior, in most cases, has been unintentionally rewarded by the owner since the dog was brought into the household. What once was a cute little puppy excitedly jumping up to get your attention grew into a bigger dog knocking you over as you walk through your front door.
The behavior of jumping is an appeasement gesture for your dog to say hello and gain attention and affection from you. While there are sweet intentions behind your dog’s jumping behavior, it is a nuisance that can be harmful to young children and elderly adults. Jumping up can be stopped through prevention and consistent training. Although it is ideal to train dogs not to jump on people from a young age, older dogs can also be taught to stop this behavior.
If your dog is not jumping out of excitement and is showing aggression towards you or others, you should immediately seek help through a professional dog trainer.
Teach Your Dog to Stop Jumping Up
There is no fool-proof technique in training your dog to stop jumping on people as all dogs do not respond the same way to each method chosen. You may need to attempt a few different techniques in training to meet your individual dog’s needs in learning to stop jumping up on people.
The “4 on the Floor” Technique
This method involves ignoring your dog for any behavior other than having all four paws on the ground. When your dog attempts to jump up on you, calmly fold your arms across your chest and look upward, avoiding looking at your dog. Only when your dog has placed all “4 on the floor” do you acknowledge him to reward the behavior.
Be careful not to overly excite him when rewarding his good behavior as this can cause your dog to become excited and jump up again. Inform guests to ignore your dog when they jump up as well. You need to be consistent with everyone your dog comes into contact with to be successful.
Using a Leash
Training your dog not to jump up with a leash is easiest done with having a friend pretend to be a guest coming to your door. After your “guest” rings the doorbell, you will need to attach a leash to your dog (preferably a harness so that you will have more control of his body movement). Walk with your dog toward the door and ask him to sit. Only when your dog is sitting should you open the door to greet your “guest.”
You may need to step on the leash to keep your dog from jumping up. When your “guest” comes inside, instruct them to ignore your dog if he attempts to jump up. If your dog is extremely excited, you may need to guide him out of the room to calm down until he can calmly sit. Once your dog has quieted down, you can attempt to introduce him to your “guest” again in the same manner.
Your “guest” should only acknowledge your dog when he has all “4 on the floor”. This will reinforce your dog’s behavior of keep all paws on the ground when guests come in the house if he wants to be greeted!
Some Dogs Need Extra Help
Some dogs need extra help calming themselves down in social situations. If the two methods above do not work for your dog, you can try to set him up for success by keeping a toy by the front door to redirect him. You can use the toy to distract him when guests come as an outlet to release his extra excitement. Holding a toy is enough of a distraction for some dogs to eliminate the jumping behavior.
Tips for Training Success
- Do encourage appropriate behavior through positive reinforcement: (attention, play, praise, treats), and remember your dog is jumping up to gain your attention, so this will be the most powerful reinforcement!
- Do stay consistent in all situations: If you do not want your dog to jump, do not confuse him by allowing this behavior in certain circumstances.
- Do exercise your dog: A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. If your dog has pent-up energy, they will likely have extreme reactions that you can help prevent with daily appropriate play and exercise.
- Don’t raise your voice or yell: Yelling can frighten your dog and make him scared of you and visitors.
- Don’t become discouraged: This behavior will not change overnight. You will need to practice frequently until the jumping up behavior stops.