The most common reason why a dog will jump up is to try and gain our attention. By reacting to a dog jumping up we can unintentionally encourage them to keep doing it.
Your dog usually learns to jump up when they are a puppy. It can be tempting to encourage the behaviour when your dog is small, but once your dog is fully grown it can become a real problem. Although your dog may just be being friendly, not everyone will appreciate them jumping up, and some people may find it quite intimidating.
Timing, consistency and perseverance are key when training your dog not to jump up. When you first start you may find your dog jumps up more. This is because jumping up has been rewarded previously, so your dog might think they just need to work harder to get your attention. This is normal, so persevere and keep at it.
Watch our step by step guide to stopping your dog jumping up. The trick is to teach your dog that jumping up isn’t an effective way to get your attention.
Step 1 – Don’t reward your dog’s jumping up behaviour
When your dog next jumps up at you, turn your back and completely ignore them. Don’t say anything and try not to make eye contact. Be patient and wait until all four of their paws are back on the ground. As soon as this happens, turn around and reward your dog with positive attention.
If your dog gets over-excited when you give them attention, consider using a food reward instead. If you choose food, then wait until all four of their paws are on the floor and then place a treat or scatter a few treats on the floor for them and encourage them to focus downwards.
You will need to turn away every time your dog jumps up. This may feel a little repetitive, but consistency is essential. The more consistent you are, the quicker your dog will learn that jumping up doesn’t work. Instead they will start to realise that they are more successful at getting your attention when all four feet are firmly on the floor.
Get your free pet care guide
Our free guide is packed with expert advice and answers to all your questions on toxic foods, body language, training, and brain games for your pet. We’ve even included recipes for making pet-safe homemade treats and toys.Get your free guide now
Step 2 – Everyone your dog meets can help them stop jumping up
As well as being consistent yourself, you need to ensure that every person who interacts with your dog follows the same rule and ignores your dog’s jumping up behaviour. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste! This includes everyone in the household and even people your dog meets when out and about. To make sure your dog doesn’t get to practice jumping up at strangers at places like the park, you can use a longline (10m long lead.) Clip the longline onto your dog’s harness, and if you see people in the distance, pick up the line and recall your dog back to you. That way your dog is under control and more likely to be able to focus on what you are asking them for (i.e. a sit) When your dog shows appropriate, calm behaviour you should reward them.
Step 3 – If your dog is frustrated, divert their attention
If your dog is getting frustrated and is still jumping up despite being ignored, then you may need to change your approach. Continue to ignore the jumping up, but instead ask for a more constructive behaviour that your dog knows well, such as a “sit”. Before someone says hello to your dog, try and ask your dog to sit, and ask the person not to give them attention until they do it. When your dog sits, reward them with treats or attention. As before, repeat this process every time your dog jumps up. Continue to ignore the jumping up behaviour and instead ask for the calm behaviour. Keep practising and your dog will soon learn that sitting gets attention and jumping up doesn’t.
Step 4 – Keep them on a lead and make them wait to greet people
There are a couple of other tips that you can use to help stop your dog jumping up.
In the same way you can use a longline when out and about at the park, you can do the same at home using a houseline. A houseline is a 2m long lightweight lead. As visitors arrive, keep your dog in a different room or behind a baby gate. Once the visitors are settled and therefore a bit less exciting for your dog, bring your dog in to the room on the houseline. Use treats to keep your dog focussed on you and ask them to sit as they greet the visitors. As always, make sure that they get rewarded for appropriate behaviour. You can also use treats to encourage your dog to keep all four feet on the floor and divert their attention down instead of leaping up at people.
Download these tips as a handy advice sheet to use for regular training: