Teach your dog to not jump up

Most dogs jump up to get our attention. Your dog is likely to jump up at you when they’re excited to see you and want you to interact with them. But it could also be an attempt to communicate that they’re worried about something. The action of jumping up can become a channel for excited or nervous energy that dogs repeat again and again.

This is because dogs generally do whatever works out well for them. So, if you reward your dog with attention whenever they jump up they’ll just keep doing it. Often, we encourage jumping up in puppies when they’re small and cute. But this can make things very confusing for them when they grow up and we no longer want them to behave like this.

Don’t worry if this sounds like your pooch because you can teach them not to do it. Here’s some do’s and don’ts to help you understand how to stop your dog jumping up.

1. Don’t respond if your dog does jump up

2. Do teach your dog to keep all four paws on the floor

3. Don’t tell your dog off for jumping up

4. Do persist even if it seems to get worse at first

5. Don’t forget consistency is key

6. Do teach your dog to sit when meeting people

7. Don’t worry if your dog finds it difficult to sit still when meeting people

8. Do make sure you’re always prepared

Don't respond if your dog does jump up

If your dog does jump up at you then don’t react at all. You should stay calm, quiet and wait for them to stop. You can then reward them when all four paws are back on the floor. 

Do teach your dog to keep all four paws on the floor

Your dog needs to learn that jumping up at you won’t gain them anything, no matter how hard they try. Instead, it’s keeping all four paws on the floor that will get your attention. Make sure you reward your dog with praise when all four paws are on the floor, especially at times when they’d be most likely to jump up.

You can prepare yourself by making a list of all the situations in which your dog might usually jump up and plan to be quick to interact with them before they do. This might mean having a handful of treats or their favourite toy with you when coming home from work. Then you can open the door and go straight down to engage with them before they start jumping up.

Don't tell your dog off for jumping up

Discouraging your pooch from jumping up by telling them off or saying “no, get down” could be rewarding for some dogs as they are getting the attention they are after. In fact, they’re more likely to learn that jumping up gets you to look at them, talk to them and touch them too. Some dogs will find this desirable. But for others, being told off can be distressing and they might become anxious or confused. This anxiety could then cause them to jump up even more in an attempt to make the situation better. So, make sure you stay calm and don’t respond.  

Do persist even if it seems to be getting worse at first

Whenever you stop responding to any behaviour the way your dog is expecting you to, they’re likely to try that same behaviour with greater intensity. They will be determined to get you to react the way you usually would.

Don’t worry – this is part of the learning process. It can be frustrating but persevere and remain consistent with the training. Over time your dog will learn that there is just no point jumping up any longer. Instead, they start to learn the new, better and safer ways to behave.

Don’t forget consistency is key

If you’re consistent your dog will quickly learn what works to get your attention and what doesn’t. Without consistency your dog may get confused and try everything to see what behaviour works best. Make sure all your family and friends are on board with training and coach any visitors who may interact with your dog before they arrive.

Do teach your dog to sit when meeting people

Ask a friend or relative to walk towards you and your dog. When you get close to them, stop a short distance away and ask your dog to sit. Have some extra tasty treats ready to reward them with. Continue to reward your dog for as long as all four paws remain on the floor, giving them a treat every now and again while you talk to your helper. Your helper can also then reward them and give them attention.

If your dog suddenly becomes excited and jumps up make sure you don’t engage and simply stay calm, quietly waiting to reward the moment they stop bouncing. Telling them to sit again is unlikely to have any effect because they’re so excited. So just wait calmly for them to realise this behaviour gets them no attention at all and then reward them right away as soon as they stop jumping up.

Don’t worry if your dog finds it difficult to sit still when meeting people

If your dog only ever receives attention from people for sitting when they approach, you should soon notice your dog automatically sitting and waiting for people to interact with them. However, sitting for attention can be very challenging for some dogs who might benefit from doing something a little more active as people approach. For these dogs, an alternative is hunting for treats on the ground – they will be unable to do this and jump up at the same time. Ask a friend to help you and have a good amount of your dog’s very favourite treats ready, chopped into small pieces with you and your friend taking a small amount each.

Have your friend approach you and as they do, make a big deal about scattering your handful of treats down for your dog to sniff out and enjoy. They’ll be rewarded for not jumping up and keeping all paws on the ground. You and your friend can chat. Then, when your dog has found all their treats and starts looking up, your friend can start to drop their treats down for your dog to find in the same way.

Do make sure you're always prepared

If you need to stop your dog jumping up on walks then make sure when you go out for walkies, you have plenty of their favourite treats ready. This will help them behave politely when you encounter someone. You can then reward them for sitting or scatter-feed them, so they have something to keep them busy while you interact with the other person. It’s also useful to prepare you dog for visitors coming to your home, too. 

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If you are really struggling with your dog’s behaviour then you need to speak to your vet and an accredited behaviourist.

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