Dogs jump up on us for a number of reasons, but the most common one is to simply gain your attention. By reacting to it, we can perpetuate this undesired behavior, so it’s best to discourage it early before it becomes commonplace.
Although not generally considered a problem while your dog is a puppy, by not addressing this behavior early on, it can cause real issues later. Being consistent in your training from a young age is the key to a teaching your dog not to jump up on you. Being persistent is important, too, as it will often appear that your young dog’s behavior is getting worse instead of better as they navigate through the idea that they have to fight harder for your attention before they overcome the idea of jumping to receive it.
Here is a quick step by step guide on how to teach your dog not to jump:
Step 1: Don’t offer rewards. When your dog jumps on you, your best option to discourage it is to offer no incentive for the behavior. You can accomplish this by literally turning your back to your dog. Don’t say anything and don’t offer eye contact in the process. Then wait patiently. Once all four paws return to the ground, give your dog plenty of praise and attention. (If this causes your dog to jump again in excitement, consider scattering a few food treats on the ground to encourage their attention downwards). Repeat this step as often as needed (it will take lots of time and patience at first!) but with consistency, the need to turn around will become less and less as your dog learns that they can get your attention by remaining calm with all four paws firmly planted on the ground.
Step 2: Teach your rules to other people your dog interacts with. If you have a dog walker, family members, doggy day care provider, or other people in your dog’s life on a regular basis, make sure they are aware of the process described in step 1 above and are implementing it whenever interacting with your dog. When in public, consider walking your dog on a long lead that you can shorten when coming across someone new so that you have better control over your dog’s focus and attention while they are in training.
Step 3: Divert their attention, as needed. If your dog is trained in other ways but is having a hard time learning not to jump up despite being ignored, try diverting their attention to a calmer behavior that they are familiar with (like “sit”) instead of turning around. Then praise that behavior. With time, your dog will learn to associate their calm behavior to getting your attention instead of jumping.
Step 4: Introduce houseguests while on a lead. If your dog jumps up when meeting visitors to your house, consider keeping your dog in another room when guests arrive until the excitement of their arrival is over and they are settled and comfortable. Then allow your dog to greet your guests while on a long lead, offering treats to get them to sit while greeting guests or offering your praise and attention for not jumping. Like in step 1, treats can also be used to divert your dog’s attention to the ground while greeting visitors, too, if needed.
Training your dog not to jump up can be as simple as ignoring negative behavior and offering positive reinforcement for their good behavior. It can take time, though, and most definitely involves plenty of patience above all else, so stick with it to reap the full benefits of a healthy, happy companionship with man’s best friend.