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Stopping a Dog from Jumping on People


We’ve all seen it. We open the door and our dog is so excited that he jumps up, digging his claws into the clothes of your visitor. He jumps on you when you get home from work, come back from the store, or when he’s excited about a walk. It’s a show of enthusiasm, and this is usually why people have such a hard time training their dogs to stop jumping up on people.

First, because we don’t want to discipline our puppies for doing something we find adorable, and second, because once they are fully grown, it is difficult to chastise them for being affectionate. They want to say hello and greet you like they would greet any member of the pack, by licking your face. And where is your face? Much higher than his face, so he has to jump to reach it.

Whether your dog is small or large, only jumps on you or jumps on strangers, the “cute” factor wanes quickly, and it becomes a nuisance. We love our pets, but once they’ve ruined your favorite sweater or pair of pants, it’s time to instill some discipline.

My dogs are both large breeds, so we knew from a young age we would have to teach them not to jump on people, especially on visitors. By the time they were fully grown, they could tackle a man if they wanted to. If you have a new puppy, prevention is key. When you arrive home and he jumps up on you, it is imperative that you do not acknowledge him until he has calmed down. If he jumps up on you and you pick him up or scratch his ears, it simply reinforced the idea that jumping is a good behavior.

While it’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, they are a little more difficult to train, once they have learned that jumping earns them food or attention. The principle is the same, however. Do not acknowledge him until all four feet are on the ground. If he jumps, do not touch him, just wait until he’s back on all fours, and then greet him. Doing this every time he jumps will reinforce the idea that he will only get attention when his feet are on the floor.

The most important aspect of keeping your dog from jumping, is consistency. Do not push him off of you or even look at him, just wait or turn your back to them and walk away. The second his feet hit the floor however, make sure to give him praise. You can even incorporate other commands into this training regimen. If he knows the command to sit or lay down, giving that command when you enter the house, and then greeting him, can help speed up the training process.

If all else fails, you might want to check out my article on training collars.

Our dogs rarely jumped on us, but they would often jump on visitors who came the house. To reinforce the training, we would give the visitor a heads up, tell them to just stand and wait for the dogs to get back on the ground, and then greet them.

Image: Sean Dreilinger of Flikr

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