Whether you realize it or not, you are training your dog every day through your interactions. Jumping up on people, especially during a greeting, is a relatively normal dog behavior. But, it also one of the most common behavioral complaints from dog owners. There are a few strategies you can try to reduce and prevent this behavior. Here’s how to train your dog not to jump up:
1. Ignore Your Dog When They Jump Up
When it comes to training, attention and praise should be reserved for the behavior you want to encourage and not given for undesirable behavior. When all four paws are on the floor, give them plenty of attention and praise.
But, when your dog is jumping up, do not pay attention to them or pet them or give them praise – ignore them. You can ignore them by either turning your back to them or by freezing and crossing your arms across your chest until they calm down.
It’s important for all the rewards like praise, pets, play, treats, attention, etc. to be reserved only for when all four paws are on the floor and they are not jumping up. Jumping up should cause all of those rewards to end immediately.
Everyone in your family and guests need to be on board with this strategy to ensure consistency. Over time, your dog will learn that jumping up does not give them what they want while keeping their paws on the ground does.
2. Delay Greetings Until They Are Calm
You can use a similar strategy by delaying your greetings until your dog is calm. This is particularly useful if your dog is prone to jumping up on you or visitors as soon as you come in the door.
With this technique, you ignore your dog and do not greet them until they are calm and keeping all four paws on the floor. This may include walking away from them, entering again, and repeating until they are not jumping up and you can greet them accordingly with attention, praise, and pets. It could also mean walking away from them inside the home and employing the “ignore” technique until they have all four paws on the ground.
If your dog jumps up on visitors, you can have visitors use the ignore technique, but you can also help delay greetings by using a leash. Before greeting visitors, put your dog on a leash, preferably one with a front-clip harness or a head halter. Then, when visitors enter, you can walk your dog up to them for a greeting.
If they try to jump up, you can gently turn and direct them away with the leash, wait for them to calm down, and try again. It’s important that your guests do not give your dog praise, attention, or pets until your dog can approach them and keep all four paws on the floor.
3. Give Them Something Else to Do
In general, it is easier to redirect a dog’s behavior than it is to stop an established undesirable behavior. With that in mind, you can try to train your dog not to jump up by giving your dog something else to do instead.
Train Them to Respond to a Counter-Command
Depending on your dog, this could be giving them a counter-command that is incompatible with jumping. For example, training them to sit before they are allowed to greet or receive a greeting can help combat jumping. After all, a dog can’t jump up and sit with all four paws on the floor at the same time.
But, it’s important that they are given the command before they jump up and to only receive attention, praise, etc. if they stay seated while someone approaches them. If they stand up as someone approaches, the person should walk away and your dog should be told to “sit” again. Greetings only occur and treats are only given if your dog stays seated.
If they have already jumped up, giving them a “sit” command often counts as attention or is associated with a treat, so it rewards the behavior. If your dog is a notorious jumper, you can try leashing them and stepping on the leash to prevent jumping and giving them the “sit” command before guests enter. This helps disrupt the behavior and prevent it from happening, so you can start building the association with the counter-command instead.
Give Them Something to Carry in Their Mouth
This could be as simple as giving your dog something to carry in their mouth. For some dogs, the act of holding something in their mouths gives them something to do and stops jumping up. Make sure it’s something your dog likes such as a stuffed toy, a ball, a long-lasting bone, or even a food puzzle.
Just make sure your dog is relatively calm and has all four paws on the floor when you give it to them. If they’re already jumping up when you give it to them, it becomes a reward for jumping up instead of a preemptive redirection. It may not work for your dog, but it’s worth a try.
4. Distract Them With a Game of Fetch
If your dog is prone to jumping up on guests, try initiating a game of fetch when guests arrive. Toss a soft toy or some loose treats on the floor somewhere away from the door. This could distract your dog when guests are entering.
Instead of the excitement of a guest causing them to jump up, they may work out the excitement while playing. After a few minutes of play, the guest has been in the house for a bit, your dog may not be as excited, and jumping up might not be an issue any longer.
Whether this technique works depends entirely on your dog and also on timing. If the play occurs as they’re already jumping up on guests or doesn’t stop immediately if they jump up on guests, it may inadvertently reward jumping up instead of working as a distraction or redirection attempt.
5. Exercise Them More
Many dogs do not get the exercise they really need and all of that extra energy has to go somewhere! Sometimes, a lack of exercise can result in your dog overreacting to everything, especially if it is outside of the ordinary routine. And, sometimes, this is why dogs jump up.
Make a visit with your vet and figure out a plan for safely increasing your dog’s exercise routine. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog. And, a tired dog is also usually a well-behaved one. In fact, making sure your dog has plenty of exercise is one of the useful dog training tips. For some dogs, getting enough exercise helps to reduce jumping up.
These are just a few techniques for how to train your dog not to jump up. You want to make sure that only desirable behavior is rewarded and undesirable behavior is not. Training your dog takes effort and consistency from everyone in the household who interacts with them including guests.
When it comes to jumping up, it’s important that the same rules apply to everyone and in all situations. If there is inconsistency, the behavior becomes harder to change because your dog is being rewarded for that behavior somewhere along the line. If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer.