Your dog keeps jumping on you because they’re excited to see you and want to say hello. Dogs are constantly seeking the attention of their owners. Since they’re low to the ground, they’ll jump up to make sure we can see them. Thankfully, this behavior is easy to fix.
Dogs are wonderful and beloved members of our families, but sometimes they don’t behave in the way we expect. Jumping is one of the most common behavioral problems in dogs, as it can be impolite, distracting, and potentially painful-it’s certainly not the way we would like them to express their feelings!
We have the answers to why your dog jumps on you (and on others), and ways to teach them to keep their four paws on the ground.
Reasons Why Your Dog Jumps On You
Dog’s Like Attention
There are several reasons your dog might jump on your or other people, but the main one is this: dogs like attention!
Dogs are hardwired to want to interact with you and friendly visitors. However, dogs are on the ground, usually three or four feet beneath our eye level, and jumping allows them to get face to face to say hello.
Chances are they jump when you get home after being gone for a few hours. They are especially enthusiastic because they missed you while you were gone.
You’re Encouraging It
You may be just as excited to see your dog as they are to see you, so you ruffle their ears, pet them, and tell them it’s good to see them.
Maybe you’ll even put your bag down and play with them in the entryway, crouching down to roughhouse and give them belly rubs. After all, what’s the harm in giving them attention when their jumping comes from a place of joy?
This positive reinforcement of jumping is probably not new to them. Puppies vie for attention in the same way, and balancing on their back legs from a young age gets a positive reaction from people.
Puppies are even lower to the ground than adult dogs, so jumping allows them to get a better view of the world. Bonus points if people pet them, give them treats, engage in playful behavior!
Negative Attention is Still Attention
Jumping is not always desired behavior, though. You may make your displeasure clear by reprimanding the dog, shooing it away, or using your hand to keep it from leaping up.
The problem? Negative attention is still attention, and an untrained dog won’t mind that you’re unhappy. They may even be so excited that they don’t notice you’re upset and continue to jump anyway.
Both positive and negative reinforcement can encourage a dog to keep jumping. This is further complicated by the fact that your choice to encourage or discourage your dog’s jumping may vary day by day, depending on circumstance.
But what if you want to teach your dog not to jump, and do something else instead?
How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping On You
There are several reasons it is important to teach your dog not to jump on you or your guests.
Perhaps you are coming into the house carrying something important or fragile, and the dog jumping puts you at risk of dropping this item.
Guests who visit can be startled or frightened, which is not a good first impression.
Most importantly though, young children, people with disabilities, or elderly individuals could be seriously hurt by a dog jumping on them. This is especially true if your dog is big!
What Not To Do When Teaching Your Dog To Stop Jumping On You
Before anything else, you must know what not to do in your attempts to deter your dog’s jumping behavior.
Do not yell at your dog. This will not only scare them, but will also be confusing, since chances are they are very happy to see you and won’t understand why you are angry.
Secondly, do not knee or push your dog in an attempt to keep them off. Not only can it injure them, but it qualifies as a form of negative reinforcement and could also be interpreted by your dog as play behavior. If that’s the case, they will continue to jump since they are getting what they want.
Overall, your goal is to teach your dog that jumping on you is inappropriate and prevent the behavior from happening in the first place.
A good rule of thumb is to not use physical force to try and deter them.
Stopping Your Puppy From Jumping On You
If your dog is still a puppy, you have an advantage! Puppies are more receptive to training since they haven’t had the time to develop bad habits. Plus, they are smaller, which means you’re less likely to get knocked down due to their enthusiasm.
The best way to teach a puppy that jumping is not the best way to get your attention is simple. Don’t talk to your puppy, pet your puppy, or make eye contact with your puppy while they are jumping on you.
Remember: the main reason that dogs jump on their owner is because they are seeking attention. By not giving your dog attention when they are engaging in behavior you don’t like, you avoid positive reinforcement.
Once your puppy settles down or sits, you can pet them and praise them, teaching them that a polite greeting is a good thing!
Teaching Your Adult Dog To Not Jump On You
If your dog is not a puppy, there are a few things to consider when training them to stop jumping on you.
The no talk, no pet, no eye contact rule could still be effective, but if that doesn’t work, you may need some other strategies.
Diverting your dog’s behavior is one of the best ways to stop them from jumping on you. If your dog knows how to sit on command, you’re in a great position.
Simply give them the command to sit, and lavish them with treats and rewards once they do it to your satisfaction.
Another tactic is to remove yourself entirely until your dog has calmed down. If they jump to get your attention, especially when you come home, try closing yourself in another room for a minute or two.
When the time is up, come out and greet your dog. If they jump, go back to the other room and repeat until the proper behavior is exhibited.
With time, your dog will learn that the only way they get your attention is if their four paws are on the ground!
You Know Your Dog Best
No one knows your dog better than you do! The best tactic to stop your dog from jumping on you is the one that your dog responds positively to. With time and patience, you can teach your dog the proper behavior to say hello and ask for your attention — sans jumping.
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