How to stop your dog jumping up
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Dogs that jump up at owners and other people is one of the biggest complaints I hear as a dog trainer. It's super common!
Dogs usually have a huge reinforcement history with this. Ever since they were a puppy they have been invited to jump up, then given attention for it - let's face it, we don't want the bad back from bending down to stroke a puppy! Add in a lot of excitement, usually in a small room where they can't burn that energy by running around, up is the only way they can go.
The easiest way to prevent jumping up is simply to set a no attention for jumping up when you get them as puppies!
Before starting this training, consider whether this is actually an issue or not? A lot of owners (myself included) don't mind their dogs jumping up, so if you are one of their owners, then let them jump, you have no issue here!
There are several variables when Resolving this is actually pretty straight forward, so let's look at the steps:
Step 1: Pre-empt their jumping up.
Do they usually jump up when you enter the house? Is it at a certain time of day? After a certain activity that you or they have done?
Knowing when they usually jump up and pre-empting this will allow us to prepare ourselves to take quick action and have a clear plan in mind.
Set house rules for anyone coming into your house or asking to stroke your dog on the street - Make sure they stick to them, if they don't then put your dog away while they are over - don't let guests ruin your training!
Step 2: Cue the behaviour we do want.
There are several alternatives to jumping up, all are based on having 4 paws on the floor! You could ask them for a sit (although this one can create a coiled spring effect), heel or middle - while doing all of these, they cant jump. Alternatively, you could ask them to go to their beds when the door starts opening - this is what I have mine do, that allows me to get in the house, get my coat and shoes off then give them attention when I am ready too.
Quite possibly the easiest, however, is changing your body language and what you are saying to your dog. If your dog is jumping for attention from your hands, lower your hand and partially turn sideways (as this is uninviting) as your dog approaches you, then give them attention while their paws are on the floor. Theres nothing wrong with a dog being excited to see you, as long as they know how to get the attention they want and you are willing to give them it at that moment.
Changing their gaze and giving them an alternative behaviour can also help, how many dogs look down while jumping up? They just don't! Scatter food to the floor, put some squirty cream on your shoe, bring a snuffle mat with some food in back with you.
All of the above can be practiced over and over again before ever using this in a real-life situation, exciting situation. Start by training the behaviour to a high standard, then when you go out of a room and go back in, practice your chosen method, gradually increase their excitement and this will become an automatic habit.
Step 3: No attention for jumping.
Or even better, remove the attention. If you are asking for a sit when you come back from work, the sit would be before you open the door to where they are, then they stay sat as you open the door, if they break their sit, then pause for a moment and give them the choice to see what they'll do, if they don't return to the sit then cue the sit, if they still don't or start moving forwards then close the door and restart.
If they do jump up at you, remove your attention, fold your arms and turn your back. The problem with this, and solely just ignoring them, is that something happens called an extinction burst. This means that the behaviour gets worse before it gets better, they try harder for the reinforcement they have always had before learning that it no longer works. If you give in while they are trying harder, then you have just made the behaviour worse. That is why we give them an alternative first and use removing attention as our backup.
Step 4: Be Consistent
Consistency is the key! If you and everyone else that you don't want your dog to jump up at is consistent, then quite frankly, there's no point starting this training. If they sometimes get rewarded and sometimes don't, then the behaviour will get worse as they learn that they have to escalate it to eventually get it.
This could take weeks or even months, but they will get it, eventually!
Step 5: Reward what you like, each and every time!
Your dog wants attention, so make sure they get it when they offer the behaviour that you want, this will help your dog understand what gets them attention and they will then willingly offer it.
So there you have it, that is how to stop your dog's annoying habit of jumping up.