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How to easily stop your dog from always jumping up on people

Your dog is a beloved member of your family, and like all family members, he has a unique personality. Some dogs are laid back and approachable, while others are more aloof and bond almost exclusively with one member of the family. Just like people, dogs have their own quirks. Some sleep in funny positions, while others greet their favorite person with a toy clutched in their mouths. But if your dog’s preferred method of greeting newcomers is jumping on them, it can make returning home from work more of a hassle than a joy. Don’t waste hours searching “how to stop dog from jumping on people.” We’re here with the scoop on why some dogs jump on everyone they meet – and we’ll share how to stop it.   

A German Shepherd jumping on a woman wearing a black puffer coat.

Why does my dog jump on everyone?

There are numerous theories surrounding the reason your dog jumps on visitors, most commonly excitement at seeing a beloved family member or meeting a new friend, a desire for attention, to satisfy a need for emotional or physical connection, or simply because your dog doesn’t know how else to behave when he sees someone enter the home. Additionally, jumping up onto their hind legs is a natural greeting between dogs, but when you aren’t a canine, it’s more worrisome than welcoming. Not only is your dog’s constant jumping a nuisance, but it puts children and seniors at increased risk of injury.

Unfortunately, you may be inadvertently making the issue worse – unintentionally training your dog to jump more often – when you attempt to punish your pup for jumping in the first place. The knee-jerk reaction to having a dog jump up is typically a firm “no” and a nudge. But, to a rambunctious dog, any reaction is a reward in the form of attention. Wondering how you can get your dog to stop jumping on everyone without accidentally encouraging the very behavior you want to stop? Stick with us to learn what the experts have to say. 

A leashed Alaskan Malamute jumping on a man and a woman.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How do I stop my dog from jumping on visitors? 

According to Zoom Room Dog Training, preventing your dog from jumping up on guests starts when you come home from work. Because even negative attention reinforces a dog’s behavior, you should refrain from giving him any attention at all. In Fido’s mind, pushing him away with your hand, intercepting him mid-jump with your knee, or even scolding him all seem like you’re playing along with his game. Zoom Room recommends the “four on the floor” training method, which suggests ignoring your dog completely until he’s sitting or standing calmly with all four paws on the floor. Here are a couple of other tips you can use to train your pup out of jumping on people.

Ignore your dog until he’s calm

Similar to Zoom Room’s method, the experts at Preventive Vet say, “Looking at, touching, or talking to your dog, even sternly, is rewarding to them.” When your dog remains calm and refrains from jumping, give him a treat and praise his behavior. However, if he begins jumping again, you should turn away from your dog and ignore him. Don’t touch him, speak to him, or even look at him. By taking away the reward – in this case, your attention – you’re training your dog not to jump. After all, dogs only repeat behaviors when they’re rewarded for them. Your pooch should eventually stop jumping once he realizes it won’t get him the attention he craves.  

Ask your dog for an incompatible behavior

Another way to train your dog out of jumping is by asking for an incompatible behavior. This trick works best with a well-trained dog, but the result will be the same if you use a distraction like a toy. Tell your dog to “sit” when he looks like he’s about to jump. Make sure you immediately reward him when he sits down, as this teaches him to repeat the behaviors you want instead of the ones you don’t want. If you’re still teaching your dog basic commands, offer him a favored toy as soon as you get home. Dogs are easily distracted, and your pup won’t be able to jump if he’s busy playing with his favorite squeaky toy. He’ll eventually learn that jumping means he doesn’t get to play with his toy, and waiting patiently for you to come inside means he can play with his toy.

A Greyhound jumping on a woman in the snow.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Be patient with your pup

Training a dog to do anything requires patience, persistence, and consistency. Remember not to yell at your dog when he jumps. While we tend to flinch at raised voices; your dog may think you’re barking at him. Work on keeping your dog calm when people enter the home, ensure he gets plenty of exercise so he’s less likely to be hyperactive, ignore him completely when he jumps, and use distractions or requests for incompatible behaviors to prevent jumping in the first place. Lastly, don’t be afraid to consult a professional if his behavior continues after repeated training attempts. 

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Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
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