Jumping is cute when dogs are puppies, but when they get big it can be a problem.
Learning how to train a dog not to jump on you isn’t only about good manners, but it can also help prevent injury. Plus, it’s helpful when you have guests come to visit.
Let’s dive in and learn how to curb this habit in all scenarios and train your dog how to calmly greet you, your family, and strangers.
Why Do Dogs Jump?
Dogs jump for two main reasons—to greet you and say hello and because humans often reinforce jumping with excitement and affection.
In a doggy world, dogs actually say hello to one another by sniffing each other’s muzzles and bottoms. So, initially, when you brought your new puppy home, he was being a polite pup and trying to say hello to you by sniffing your muzzle (i.e., face your face). But your face is so high that puppies tend to jump up to say hello. Which brings us to the second point, reinforcement.
It’s very likely that when you brought your new puppy or new dog home and they jumped up to say hello, you probably petted them, scratched them, and made a big, happy fuss. This response actually reinforces the act of jumping up. Now your dog has learned that jumping up gets him attention, which is exactly what he wants.
Now that you know the two main reasons a dog jumps up, let’s find a solution.
How to Stop a Dog From Jumping
The good news is you can teach your new puppy not to jump pretty quickly. For adult dogs, there will be a bit more training involved since he’s learned through repetition that jumping gets him attention. Yes, even negative attention is attention.
Train Your Puppy Not to Jump on You First
Start by training your puppy not to jump on you first before trying to tackle jumping on guests or others. It’s always important to teach your dog how to be successful with the least amount of distractions.
Think about all the situations when your dog jumps up on you. Common scenarios include:
- When you come home
- Play games
- Put on his leash
Load up your pockets with some healthy and tasty dog treats—it’s time to get started.
Here’s the new rule for your puppy. When he jumps up, you pay no attention to him. He’s what I call “an invisible dog.” Don’t say “no,” don’t say “off.” Just act like he’s not there. You can even turn your back or step out of the room.
When he puts all four paws on the floor, swiftly squat down to his level (remember, he wants to see your face) and pet him calmly. Don’t get too excited or pet too roughly, as this will encourage jumping and even mouthing. You can also give him a little treat if he keeps his paws planted on the ground and remains calm.
If—or I should say when—he jumps back up, immediately stand and repeat the invisible dog reaction. Pay no attention, and wait for him to put all four paws on the floor. Once he does, give him attention and a treat. This becomes your new routine. Four on the floor equals attention and a possible treat, jumping up equals an invisible dog.
This also means that when you’re feeding your dog, putting on his leash, or any other time that he jumps up, he does not get what he was jumping up for. Wait for him to put four on the floor and then start to open the door, put on his leash, etc.
You will want to plan extra time to allow this training to happen. It will take some effort on your part but, in the long run, you’re teaching your puppy that jumping doesn’t get him things and that keeping his paws on the floor leads to everything.
All family members should follow this training method. Make sure everyone is on the same page. As your dog is learning various behaviors such as sit, you can start asking for a sit behavior versus four-on-the-floor behavior.
How to Stop a Dog From Jumping on People
When you’re consistently training your puppy not to jump up on you, then you want to start tackling your puppy not jumping up on friends or strangers. This can be a little more challenging, because not only will you be training your puppy, but you’ll also be training your friend! Before introducing your puppy to your friend, let them know about your puppy’s new training protocol. Explain to them that your puppy is learning that jumping up gets no attention.
Before your friend comes over to your house, attach your puppy’s leash to his harness. You also want to have some healthy and very rewarding treats in your pocket. Place some treats that aren’t as exciting as yours by the front door for your friend to grab. Explain to your friend that when they come over, they should put those treats in their pocket.
As your friend enters the house, make a smoochy noise and get your puppy’s attention on you. Then, treat your puppy for paying attention to you. We want your puppy to be happy around strangers, but we want him to also learn that it’s about you—that you hold all the valuable goodies.
With your puppy on his leash, calmly walk over to your guest and tell your puppy to “go say hello.” At this point, have your guest calmly call your puppy over. If your puppy keeps four on the floor, your guest should give him a treat. If the puppy jumps up, your guest should ignore him. If this happens, call the puppy over to you and ask him to sit. Repeat this process and you will watch your puppy learn to put his paws on the floor to receive a treat from your guest.
As your puppy is receiving the treat from your guest, make it short and sweet. Your puppy gets the treat, a little hello, and then you call him back to you for a sit and treat. By doing this, you’re keeping your puppy’s energy level low and again reinforcing that you have all the real goodies. This helps teach your puppy that guests are good but not terribly exciting.
When your puppy or your dog is still learning how to be reliable at not jumping, it may be helpful to keep him on his harness and leash with you while your guest visits. Randomly throughout your visit, repeat the hello process. This can even be when your guest is sitting on the sofa or standing up going into another room. The more your puppy practices, the better he gets at keeping four on the floor.
How to Stop a Dog From Jumping on Strangers
Teaching your puppy not to jump on strangers is a little different scenario. When you are out walking your puppy, and you see a friendly person, don’t just rush over. When you are about five feet away from the stranger, ask them if you and your puppy can come over to say hello.
If the stranger says yes, grab some treats and start treating your puppy for good behavior. Slowly walk over to the stranger. This time, you’re not asking the stranger to help with your puppy’s training, but you’re going to squat down right away and get on your puppy’s level. While you’re down there, you’re going to slip your hand in your puppy’s harness while you’re giving your puppy some treats. The reason for this is that you want to make sure that your puppy doesn’t jump or scratch anyone you don’t know.
Reward your puppy for keeping four on the floor by giving him a treat. Short and sweet. Thank the stranger and treat your puppy for walking away. Continue this process with as many people as you can during the learning stage. When your puppy starts to be really reliable at keeping four on the floor, then you can start considering not squatting down with your puppy.
How to Stop a Dog From Jumping Up On the Counter
Not only can dogs learn that jumping equals attention, they can also learn that jumping up on the counter leads to great prizes. When your dog is reinforced with things such as food, snacks, paper towels, napkins, or even your attention by jumping up on the counter, end table, or dining room table, you can understand why it’s such a common behavior.
Jumping up on the counter is often referred to as counter surfing. It actually can be a very easy behavior to change as long as everyone in the family is consistent with training.
The rule is simple. Empty your counters and tables, and leave nothing that your dog can grab. If your dog jumps up, he can’t get a prize. If you and your family are consistent with clearing the counters and tables, your dog will figure out that jumping on the counter will not lead to anything exciting and the behavior should stop on its own.
So, those counters and those end tables need to be clear during this learning stage. Eventually, as your puppy matures, you can start putting more things on your counters. But don’t do this too quickly. You want to ensure that your puppy has truly stopped trying to jump on the counters.
Teaching a Puppy Versus an Adult Dog
Training a puppy not to jump up and training an adult dog not to jump up follow the same training principles. The difference is that puppies start with a pretty clean slate, so they can learn preferred behaviors more quickly.
Adult dogs who have already had months or even years of learning that jumping equals good things take more time and patience when it comes to training. Pet parents have to focus on untraining a behavior versus simply training a new behavior from the start.
With good management, positive reinforcement, and the entire family being on the same page, both a puppy and an adult dog can learn how not to jump.