Teach your dog to not jump up

Most dogs jump up to get our attention, for example your dog is likely to jump up at you when they’re excited to see you and want you to interact with them, or in 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 because it works out well for them, often because we give them attention for doing it.

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. We often 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 your dog is a big 'jumper-upper’ because you can teach them not to do it. Consistency is key so make sure everyone your dog encounters sticks to the plan!

  1. If this does happen it’s really important to understand why, because it can be a big reason for many owners abandoning training that would soon begin to pay off if they had only persevered a little longer. 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, determined to get you to react the way you usually would.

    Don’t worry – this is part of the learning process! Of course, this can be very frustrating for owners and although it might feel easier to simply let them jump up, being consistent with the training means your dog will learn over time and repetition that there is just no point in jumping up any longer. You can teach them new, better and safer ways to behave instead.

  2. If your dog enjoys the attention you give them when they jump up, they might even find it rewarding should you try to discourage them from jumping up by telling them off or saying “no, get down”. They're unlikely to care that you’re saying “bad dog, no jumping up, get off” because they can’t speak English after all. In fact, they’re more likely to learn that jumping up gets you to look at them, talk to them and touch them too, if you push them away – and some dogs will find even this type of attention desirable. Telling a dog off could also be distressing as a dog might become anxious or confused about an owner who is at times happy and fun, while at others cross and agitated. This anxiety might then cause a dog to jump up even more in an appeasing attempt to make the situation better.

    Always being consistent and calm yourself can help a dog to put their trust in you at all times.

  3. Your dog will need to learn that it is now keeping all four paws on the floor that brings them all your attention and praise, and that jumping up at you just doesn’t gain them anything at all!

    Make sure you reward your dog with praise and attention when all four paws are on the floor, especially at times when they’d be most likely to jump up. 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 – for example, have a handful of treats or their favourite toy with you when coming home from work, if this is a trigger point for them, open the door and go straight down to engage with them before they start jumping up.

    Dog jumping up at owner with trainer  

  4. If your dog does jump up at you then don’t react at all but stay calm, quiet and wait for them to stop, then reward them when all four paws are on the floor. Remember, although they might try harder to get you to react to begin with, as soon as they realise you’ll interact and engage with them if they’ve got all their feet on the ground, the less likely they’ll need to jump up – but they’ll only learn this if you’re consistent and always interact with them in the same way.

  5. 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 to get your attention! 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!

  6. Ask a friend or relative to help you by walking towards you and your dog so that when you get close to them you can stop a little distance away and ask your dog to sit. Have some extra special tasty treats ready to reward them with because, if they really want to greet the person, they’ll find this difficult. Keep giving them treats and have your helper join in by giving them some more, as well as their attention – as long as your dog enjoys this. 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.

    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. Nagging 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.

  7. 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, because dogs can’t 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 away and 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.

  8. If your dog is a serial ‘jumper-upper’ then make sure you go out for walkies with plenty of their favourite treats ready to help them behave politely when you encounter someone you either have to talk to yourself, or who your dog knows well. Either practice asking your dog to sit and reward them with a treat before permitting the person and your dog to interact, or scatter-feed them so they have something rewarding to do that keeps them busy while you interact with the other person. Having treats ready means you’re always ready and able to reward your dog with something they’ll really enjoy.

    You can do the same with visitors to the house. If your dog struggles with staying calm when you have guests then our ‘Visitor Training’ section gives you lots of tips on how to help them!