How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping
It’s cute but it’s A LOT.
It melts your heart that your dog gets so excited to see you that he just can’t contain himself.
And his jumping is super cute — when it doesn’t knock you over or leave your legs covered in scratches.
So how do you stop your dog from jumping?
Why do dogs jump on you?
The best way to stop your dog from jumping is to figure out why he’s doing it in the first place, and it turns out he could be jumping on you for a whole bunch of reasons.
And he’ll keep jumping if the behavior gets encouraged (even if that encouragement is unintentional).
“The simplest explanation as to why dogs jump is because a dog’s jumping behavior usually gets reinforced in some way,” Kurland told The Dodo.
Here are some common reasons why your dog might be jumping.
1. To get your attention
Attention-seeking behavior motivates your dog to jump because it actually does get him attention.
“Puppies learn very quickly, at an early age, if they jump up, we look at them, talk to them, pick them up, hold them, pet them and comfort them,” Kurland said. “So it’s reasonable for them to think that when they jump up they will get reinforced for it with some sort of attention from us.”
This habit can get accidentally encouraged really easily.
“If this jumping behavior gets reinforced (even inadvertently), the dog will do the behavior more, hoping to get attention,” Kurland explained.
2. To get closer to what they want
Think your dog’s treat jar is out of reach on the counter? Or that snack you just made for yourself is safe on the kitchen table?
Well if your dog can get to the things he wants by jumping up, he’s probably going to go for it.
“Dogs jump to get closer to or to ascertain things they want,” Kurland explained. “Anyone who has left food on the kitchen counter has inevitably seen their dog jump and stretch up as far as they can towards the top of the counter to try to grab a yummy food item off it.”
This jumping turns into a bigger problem if your pup actually manages to score whatever he’s after.
“If they are successful, they will definitely try it again, since it was reinforced by getting the food previously,” Kurland said.
3. Because they’re excited
Sometimes your dog is just so excited that he can’t physically contain all his energy, and gets it out by jumping up on you.
“Some dogs, upon seeing their leash, start jumping because they know the leash means they are going for a walk, and walks are super exciting,” Kurland said. “Many dogs jump on their pet parents to greet them as soon as they enter the home, excited to see them (no matter how long or short [an] amount of time their parent has been gone)!”
Why you should keep a dog from jumping
Sometimes your dog’s jumping isn’t actually harmful, just a little obnoxious. But other times, your pup could accidentally hurt someone by jumping on them.
“A behavior that seemed cute from a little puppy can get annoying or even potentially dangerous as the dog grows,” Kurland said. “If there are young children, [or] elderly or physically compromised people in the home, a larger dog jumping on them can knock them over and possibly cause physical harm.”
Even if your dog is way too tiny to bowl someone over, a lot of people still don’t like those little paws pounced on them.
“A dog jumping on visitors to your home can be a very unwelcome greeting, especially people who don’t appreciate your pup’s attention as much as you do,” Kurland explained.
Not to mention, even clipped nails can ruin your clothes or scratch up your legs.
“Also, nobody wants dirty paw prints on clean clothes as they are heading out to work, school or an event,” Kurland said.
How to stop a dog from jumping
Getting a dog to stop jumping is all about the training.
Kurland offered up some pretty crucial tricks and tips that’ll help you keep your dog from jumping.
Tip 1: Don’t reinforce the behavior
Seems obvious, right?
Well if your go-to move when your dog’s jumping on you is to push him off, you’re actually reinforcing the behavior.
“If you push your dog away from you (or push the dog down), that’s reinforcement since your dog still got attention from you,” Kurland explained. “If, when your dog jumps, you tell your dog ‘No!’ or say your dog's name, that’s a verbal reinforcement.”
Even silently making eye contact with your pup can reinforce his jumping.
So, the only real way to make sure you aren’t encouraging this behavior is to ignore him completely when he does it.
“It's also important to make sure you and all family members are consistent, ignoring the jumping and rewarding behaviors you like (sitting or standing with all paws on the ground), so that your dog is not getting mixed messages or inadvertently being rewarded for jumping,” Kurland said.
Tip 2: How to effectively ignore your dog’s jumping
Since ignoring your dog is so important to training her out of this behavior, you’ve got to know how to do it effectively.
“Turn away from your dog,” Kurland said. “If, when you turn away from your dog, he still has his paws on your back, walk away from your dog and close a door on him for 10 seconds if necessary before returning to him.”
This includes ignoring him while you’re sitting, too (which can be a little harder to do since you’re down at his level).
“If you are sitting down and your dog jumps on you, turn your body away from your dog and wait for him to have his paws on the ground for several seconds before paying any attention,” Kurland explained.
Tip 3: Reward your dog for having her paws on the ground
You know how encouraging your dog’s jumping (even accidentally) will just keep the behavior going?
Well, you can actually do the same for when he has all his paws on the ground.
“Start reinforcing your dog when he has four paws on the ground during calm situations, and especially in situations when your dog would normally be tempted to jump,” Kurland said.
Rewarding him for having his paws on the ground will make him want to keep his paws on the ground — and therefore stop jumping.
But in order for him to get the message, you’re going to need to shower him with a lot of goodies.
“This means being prepared in advance with treats or your dog’s favorite toy on hand to reward your dog immediately while his paws are on the ground,” Kurland said.
If your dog is food-motivated, then treats are definitely the way to go.
If your dog is toy-motivated, having a few good ones nearby could be an effective reward, too.
And make sure you’re always ready to reward your BFF.
“We have a tendency to only notice when our dogs are exhibiting behaviors we don’t like, and may overlook when they are doing behaviors we do like,” Kurland said. “Reward them for calm behavior or for when they are not jumping, and they will learn to do those behaviors more consistently.”
Tip 4: Try tethering your dog with a leash
If your pup is persistent about jumping, you might have to use his leash to tether him so he physically can’t jump on you.
(Basically, this means you’d tie one end of the leash to a piece of furniture he can’t drag around — just make sure he’s comfortable and has something cozy to lay on.)
Here’s how it works.
“Grab some yummy treats and walk away from your dog, well past the length of the leash,” Kurland said. “Turn and slowly walk back towards your dog. As he keeps his paws on the ground, toss him a treat to reward him for not jumping.”
If your dog starts to jump, Kurland recommends you back away from him and start the process again.
“Backing away from him when he jumps shows him that his jumping makes you go away,” Kurland explained. “With practice, your dog will learn that in order for you to come closer to him (and to get a treat), he will need to keep his paws on the ground.”
Once your dog gets used to doing this exercise with you, you can have him try it with other people.
“Practice this activity regularly with your dog so he learns that keeping his paws on the ground or sitting gets him attention from the approaching person,” Kurland said.
Tip 5: Have treats or toys ready when you walk in the door
If your dog practically attacks you when you get home, try keeping rewards on hand so you can divert his attention.
“When you enter your home and normally encounter your jumping dog at the door, drop several treats on the floor away from the entryway to direct your dog’s attention to the floor,” Kurland said. “Or throw a toy or ball for your dog to chase (heading away from you to cut off the jumping before it starts).”
Tip 6: Step on your dog’s leash if she’s jumping on walks
This is effective for dogs who get hype on walks and try to jump on everyone they see.
The way this works is, when you see someone approaching, you lower your hand that’s holding your pup’s leash down to your side and then step on your leash before your dog can jump.
“Make sure your dog can still stand and sit comfortably, but stepping on the leash will prevent your dog from being able to jump up on the approaching person,” Kurland explained. “Better to prevent the jumping from happening in the first place than to let your dog practice behavior you would like to change.”
Tip 7: Make sure snacks are actually out of your dog’s reach
If your dog is a good jumper, keeping snacks on the counter might not actually be the best move.
“Make sure there is nothing your dog is able to get off the counter, to avoid him ... being reinforced for his jumping,” Kurland said. “[This] may require pushing all items towards the back of the countertops or removing them altogether.”
If that still doesn’t work, you might have to keep your dog out of the room completely by setting up a baby gate.
Tip 8: Master the “sit” command
Teaching your dog the “sit” command is a dog-training must in general.
But it’s also a great way to teach him how to stop jumping.
If he’s really responsive when you tell him to sit, you can use the command to keep him from jumping if he seems like he’s about to start, or to get him to stop if he’s already begun.
And if you really reward him when he sits, it could become his preferred behavior, even over jumping.
“The more you reinforce your dog for choosing to sit, the more your dog will offer the sit in order to get good things,” Kurland explained.
It’s almost like you’re swapping out a bad behavior for a good one!
With these tips, you should be able to actually stop your dog from jumping all the time.
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