Teaching your dog to stop jumping up

Training tips for teaching your dog or puppy to stop jumping on you (and everyone else!)

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March 15, 2016

How to teach your dog not to jump up

Many people have a problem with their dog jumping on everyone and it can become a real issue. I once saw a huge Labrador leap on a woman holding a newborn baby, almost knocking her down some concrete stairs, which is a prime example of why it’s so important to teach our dogs not to jump up. Puppies are naturally very excitable and because they are so little and cute, it’s easy to let them get away with it. But by the time they grow up, it’s not so fun anymore.

Here are my tips for teaching your dog to stop jumping up!

Why do dogs jump up?

Jumping up is a natural greeting behaviour – wolves greet each other by pawing, jumping up and licking each other’s jowls, especially pups welcoming pack members back from a hunt. But it becomes excessive in dogs because often when we get a puppy, we actively encourage jumping by lavishing it with pats and praise when it does. This reinforces the behaviour and makes it hard to stop.

If you’re keen to get this problem sorted, here are some things you can try. I recommend you get a clicker to help you with this training - it will help you achieve results ten times faster! See my blog on Clicker Training to learn how to use a clicker effectively!

Stop rewarding the behaviour

Rewards include food, attention, pats, praise or even being let out of a door, so don’t give any of these things to your dog when it’s jumping up, and ask others to do the same. Instead, ask your dog to sit and only give the reward when it is sitting calmly. It’s important to do this every single time - eventually your dog will automatically sit calmly when it wants something instead of jumping up.

Don’t get your dog hyped up

When you get home, refrain from talking in a high pitched voice or giving your dog any attention until it is calm and has all four paws on the ground. This may mean you have to ignore your dog for a while - a bit of tough love is required at first!

Teach your dog not to jump on you

As your dog rushes up to jump on you, put your hand out flat in front of you and say “OFF!” in a firm tone. If it stops and keeps all four paws on the ground, click and reward it. If it continues to jump, say “NO” and turn your back. Whenever all four paws return to the ground, turn back to face your dog and click and reward. Throw the treat on the ground rather than giving it from your hand to discourage your dog from jumping to get it.

Then every time your dog approaches you, ask for a “sit” and when it does, click and reward with a treat and praise. If your dog is sitting, you can give it the treat directly from your hand.

Continue doing this until your dog is keeping its paws on the ground consistently - it can help to leave treats and clicker in pouch by the front door ready for when you arrive home.

Teach your dog not to jump on guests

When you’re expecting guests, put your dog on a lead attached to a nylon slip collar (this helps to discourage lunging or pulling). When you hear the door, ask your dog to sit and click and reward it with a treat when it does. Continue to click and reward as the guest enters the house and your dog remains sitting or standing on all four paws. If your dog tries to jump, say “off” in a firm tone of voice, and if it keeps doing it give a short sharp check (quick flick of the wrist) on the lead while saying “NO”, then ask your dog for a sit again and reward it.

Ask guests to engage with your dog only when it’s calm and sitting nicely - then they can pat it and give it a treat. Invite lots of people over so you have opportunities to practise!

Reward calm behaviour

It can help to regularly clip your dog up and practise some basic commands such as “sit” and “down”, using the clicker to click and reward your dog each time. Also regularly reward your dog for calm behaviour with all four paws down.

Remember, you’ve probably been unwittingly reinforcing this behaviour for your dog’s whole life, so don’t be put off if it takes a while for the message to get through. It’s generally easier to teach a dog to do something than to teach a dog not to do something - but with consistency, you will get there!

Need more help?

If you are raising a puppy, join my Virtual Puppy School, where I show you exactly how to raise and train a happy, healthy, well-behaved puppy and how to create a lifelong bond with that pup. The school follows me as I train real live pups, so you can train alongside me! Find out more here.

If you have an adult dog with persistent behavioural issues, my Virtual Dog School covers exactly how to solve the most common behavioural problems with videos showing you what to do. Find out more here.

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