How to Stop a Puppy Jumping Up on You

by | Mar 22, 2022 | Puppies | 0 comments

What could be more loving from a dog’s perspective than jumping up to kiss and greet their humans, possibly nipping on the way down in hope of a fun game of ‘I’m going to chase you!’ The excitement of seeing you and the anticipation of a pat can be all too much for some pups who will jump for joy at every opportunity possible. This natural canine behavior can be cute, but it remains a behaviour to discourage given the potential for people to be scratched, knocked over or suitably annoyed. This article outlines several actions you can take to help your puppy stop jumping up and to keep four paws on the floor.

Why do puppies jump up on people?

Some puppies jump up on people for the simple reason it feels good. Dogs and puppies are highly reward driven, so jumping up on you may seem like the quickest way to grab your attention and receive a pat. It can be a sign of excitement, hyperactivity, happiness, playfulness or attention seeking. As well meaning as it might be, every time you pat a puppy that has jumped up, you reinforce a negative behaviour. Some of the natural responses to stop a jumping puppy can also reinforce this unwanted behaviour. For example, if you push a jumping puppy away, the pup might assume you’re interested in a wrestling match – a true puppy favourite! Or, if you grab your puppy’s paws, they may consider the may see this positive attention and jump all the more.

Related: How to Stop a Puppy from Biting in 7 Quick Steps

How to stop a puppy from jumping up

To stop a puppy from jumping up, the key is to remove all potential rewards for this behaviour and introduce alternate ways for your dog to get attention. Teaching your dog better ways to interact and greet people may take some repetition and each dog may respond to differently. The trick is to be persistent and consistent. Here are 8 steps you can take to train your puppy not to jump:

1. Ignore your dog when it jumps

Ignoring your dog when it jumps up on you is one of the most helpful steps you can take to reduce jumping and stop this annoying behaviour. Your puppy learns that jumping up doesn’t have the desired effects: no treats, no pats, no play! Instead, they see you turning your back or walking away calmly without eye contact. Not the response they were looking for. It can feel unnatural not to reprimand your puppy or actively seek to stop him or her, but from the puppy’s point of view, your actions are clear – there’s no reward for jumping.

2. Teach your puppy alternative greeting behaviours

Coming home to a dog who is excited to see you is a joy of dog ownership. And when your dog jumps up to greet you, he is expressing his intense joy at being in your presence. So when teaching your dog not to jump, it’s worth remembering the intent behind his behaviour is really something quite beautiful. You can create an alternate ritual that allows you and your dog to maintain the beauty of this exchange without the potential for broken, scratched skin, muddy clothes and frustration. You might first encourage your dog to sit then follow up with hugs, belly rubs or ear scratches. Think of a ritual that works for you and your dog and anticipate that it may take time and practice.

3. Teach your puppy to sit

One of the most helpful commands you can teach your puppy is to sit. When you are first teaching your puppy this command simply hold a treat above their nose and pull it upwards and slightly backwards. Your puppy should sit to keep her eye on it. Tell her to sit at the same time that she sits naturally and then reward this behaviour with the treat and an enormous amount of fuss and encouragement. Make her feel great! If you can do this repeatedly, your puppy will become more likely to sit on command when jumping up at you. You can reinforce this command by making your puppy sit before every meal and before being let out of her crate or puppy pen.

4. Hold your dog gently but firmly

When in introducing alternative exchanges of affection with your dog, you may need to hold them down gently while you pat or hug them. A firm, supportive hold tells them you’re in charge and can help them calm down. You can verbally encourage and pat your puppy at the same time. The idea is for your pup to submit, understanding they are safe and that there is a reward for submission and calm affection.

5. Use treats to reinforce positive behaviour

It’s perfectly ok to use your dog’s favourite treats to reinforce and practice good behaviour. When training your dog not to jump up, timing becomes key. If you give your dog a treat, the second they hop down from your leg, they may deduce that they can get treats by jumping up quickly to remind you they’re around. So you might accidentally reinforce the wrong thing. Instead, show your dog the treats in your hand. Have them sit and walk before sitting again. Only give the treat if they didn’t jump up after walking with you and sitting again.

6. Train your family and friends

To help your puppy understand jumping up is not OK, it’s best for your whole family to agree to the ‘no patting when jumping up’ rule. It’s also OK to ask friends and people you meet not to pat your dog until he or she is sitting. Most people will understand and appreciate your attempts to teach your dog good manners. Sharp claws ripping clothes or skin aren’t so well tolerated. A trick is to carry a small bag of treats with you. Then you can ask people interacting with your dog to give her a treat if she behaves well.

7. Train your dog to keep 4 feet on the floor

As well as training your dog retrospectively, i.e. after the undesired behaviour has happened, you can also take a proactive approach to training your dog not to jump. One way to do this is to be prepared for times when your puppy is likely to jump and act first! For example, if your dog is about to greet someone, throw some treats on the ground near the person so the dog reaches the treats first, detering jumping. Then invite your guest to pat and greet your pup while they are enjoying their treats. Essentially, you are rewarding your dog for staying down before they’ve engaged in the wrong behaviour.

If your puppy still jumps after eating the treats, you can try again with your puppy on a leash so you have more control over their behaviour. Alternatively, have the person back away before the pup stops eating. You can also extend the time of your guest and puppy’s interaction by throwing more treats on the floor while the pup receives pats. Once your dog shows signs of understanding this ritual, you can reduce the number of treats given. Ideally, your dog will start to identify the pats and affection as the true reward, all the while having avoided habitual jumping up.

8. Help your puppy calm down

Just like little kids, puppies can get overexcited. Sometimes jumpy behaviour is a sign of hyperactivity. They just don’t know what to do with all that puppy energy but jumping sure feels good. Jumping may be a sign your pup needs more exercise or it can also be a sign of over-tiredness and excitement. So by learning how to help your puppy calm down, you can reduce a lot of unwanted behaviours, including jumping. The most helpful thing you can do to calm your puppy is to slow down your actions and talk to your puppy in soft, soothing tones. By demonstrating calm behaviours for your puppy, you can give them cues on how to behave and take some of the frenetic energy out of the exchange. Also consider your environment. Loud noises on the radio, television and surrounds can be overstimulating, so try to tone things down or find a quieter space for your pup. Smooth jazz or classical music might be just the thing!

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