It can be really frustrating, embarrassing, AND dangerous if you have a dog that’s always jumping up. As a professional dog trainer, I can tell you that most of my clients jump on me the first time we meet. Despite my reassurances to their guardian that it’s quite a common problem, people typically get very embarrassed and flustered. I want to teach you my personal and proven method to stop dog jumping!
Prefer video tutorials? Watch “3 EASY Steps- How to Stop Dog Jumping On You” on Youtube by clicking link.
Before we get into the training, I want to talk about how NOT to address jumping.
Our dogs jump because they’re excited to see people and they want attention. It’s likely a behavior that was accidentally rewarded when they were a cute, tiny puppy.
It gets less cute as the dog grows, and all of a sudden we deem it a problem behaviour when the dog is older. Now when our dog jumps up they’re likely pushed to the ground with our hands or told to get off.
The problem with both of those is that the dog IS still getting attention for jumping up, therefore it worked.
If the behaviour works, the dog is going to repeat it.
On the flip side, you’ve likely heard of or maybe even used aversive training methods for fixing jumping such as leash corrections, shock collars, or kneeing the dog in the chest.
I’m strongly advising you NOT to do those.
Again, our dogs jump because they’re excited to see people and they want to say hi. It’s not that they’re being bad, it’s that they haven’t been taught a different way of greeting people or of asking for attention.
Dogs very quickly learn by association building, so they have a feeling about something based on a prior experience. If we use these harsh corrections to stop the jumping, the dog is going to link that fearful or painful experience with a person. This could lead to problems such as reactivity or even aggression.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a friendly dog that jumps up sometimes than one that’s aggressive because it now fears people. Luckily though, those aren’t your two choices!
Instead, we can reinforce an alternative behaviour so that our dog doesn’t jump up in the first place.
I want you to shift your mindset from “how can I make my dog stop jumping?” to “what could I teach my dog to do instead of jumping?”.
What you’ll need for this training:
- A loaded marker word so you can tell your dog the precise moment they’ve done the correct behaviour. If you don’t know what a marker word is or how to load one, read this.
- A bunch of tiny dog treats & a treat pouch. (Check out my favourite treat pouch here)
How to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on You- Step 1:
First we’re going to cue a sit and make that a highly reinforced behaviour. I really encourage you to train sitting as a new default behaviour when greeting someone.
Some trainers will advise you to reward your dog as long as they have all four paws on the ground, but I find that this only works for really mild jumpers. If your dog is more severe, I strongly encourage you to train them to sit for all greetings (at least until they’re solid on not jumping up). I find that this is more effective because we’re giving a dog a task and it can act as a circuit breaker when they’re really excited.
[If you haven’t taught your dog to reliably sit on verbal cue, I’ll link a tutorial for how I train “sit” here]
To start working on jumping, keep a treat jar outside of your house so you can have a little handful of treats in your hand when you enter the home. When you first walk in and your dog is exuberant, immediately ask them for to sit as they approach.
When your dog sits, say your marker word, then give them a treat. We’re conditioning that by sitting when greeting someone, great things happen!
If (or more likely WHEN) your dog jumps on you, simply turn your back or walk away. Try to resist saying “Off” or anything else since that’s still giving attention. Basically, when your dog jumps, pretend you don’t even notice them at all.
We want our dog to learn:
“Hmmm when I sit, I get greeted and rewarded. When I jump, nothing happens. I should sit instead of jumping!”
Step two for teaching your dog not to jump is completing repetitions of anything that’s likely to cause jumping!
We want to proof this new behaviour of sitting rather than jumping up. To do so, I encourage you to make a list of all the times that you notice that YOUR dog jumps.
Really common times for a dog to jump are:
- when you first enter the home
- when you’re petting them (and when you stop)
- when you move to a new area in the home
- when you’re trying to put their leash on
I want you to practice many repetitions of these scenarios where your dog is likely to jump by cueing them to sit and rewarding them for doing so.
Repetitions help the dog be calm enough that they CAN learn what we’re asking them to do 🙂
When you first start working on this, you should anticipate that your dog IS going to jump on you. If something has worked for them in the past, there’s no reason that they’re not going to try it again.
Again, when your dog jumps on you I want you to either turn your back or even walk away slightly, therefore completely ignoring them. Please say nothing, including telling them “no” or to get off. I know that this is really hard, but we want to make sure that there’s no attention given for jumping. We’re transferring all of the reward history to offering a sit instead so that jumping becomes an extinct behaviour.
Step three is to repeat this process while phasing out the “sit” cue.
We want sitting for greetings or attention to become an automatic behaviour that our dog does without being asked to. This is particularly important if you have a dog that jumps on guests!
Again, practice many repetitions of all the scenarios on your list that previously encouraged your dog to jump, but this time wait for them to voluntarily offer a sit on their own.
Please make sure that you continue to reward them when they sit! It’s okay to phase out treat rewards over time and instead offer affection or praise, but I encourage you to make sure that you keep rewarding in some manner. Dogs repeat what works, so it’s important that the new default behaviour of sitting when greeting somebody continues to get reinforced.
Remember this important rule of dog training: If you like it, reinforce it!
Want more help with training your dog not to jump? Check out these vidoes on my Youtube channel:
3 EASY Steps- How to Stop Dog Jumping On You:
Try THIS to Stop Dog From Jumping On Guests:
Watch these steps transform a dog! In this video I show you real, unedited sessions where Louie learned not to jump on me:
Happy training 🙂
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