How To's

How to teach your dog not to jump up

Written by Nancy Boland

Puppies and dogs often jump up to greet us. They like to greet us face to face just the same as they do other dogs, so it’s perfectly natural for dogs to jump up on us to try to reach our faces and get our attention. How to teach your dog not to jump up?

What to Do About the Problem

The key to teaching your dog not to jump on you when she greets you is to tell her that you only greet dogs who keep their front paws on the floor. Although you can’t tell her with words, you can tell her with actions. When your dog greets you, her goal is to get your attention and you to fuss her. Knowing this, you can show your dog what she must do to earn your attention and touch. Try to remember two things each time you greet your dog or someone elses who has this problem:

  1. Keep your attention and your hands away from your dog unless her front feet are on the floor.
  1. Immediately give your dog attention and stroke her instant her front feet land on the floor.

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For instance, when you enter a door and your dog jumps up on you, ignore her. Stand up straight and look over her head. If she continues jumping all over you, turn away. She’ll have to put her front paws on the floor to follow you. The instant her front paws touch the floor, say “Good girl” quietly and give her some attention. If she jumps up at your touch, just pull your hand away, stand up straight like before, and ignore her until her feet find the floor once again. The moment her feet touch the floor again, commence attention. Your attention and your touch are the words that you can use to let your dog how she needs to act to get your attention.

Never withhold attention when your dog’s feet finally do touch the floor-even if you’re irritated at her for jumping a moment earlier. She has to be able to make the connection that front feet on the floor magically result in attention and affection from people.

Training Exercises

It’s important to teach your dog what you do want her to do during greetings. For example, you can train her to sit or stand to greet people instead of leaping all over them.  The following exercises can help your dog learn to greet you and others politely:

  • When your dog starts to jump up, stand still, look straight ahead and calmly wait for your dog to stop jumping. When her front paws touch the floor, immediately look at her and calmly stroke her. If she gets excited and jumps up again, straighten back up and repeat the sequence.
  • When your dog starts to jump up, stand still, look straight ahead, and pull your hands and arms up to your chest. Say “Off” and immediately turn your back to your dog so that she can’t reach your face. Then say “Sit.” When she sits, turn back around to face her, kneel down and calmly stroke her. Keep repeating this sequence until your dog stops jumping up.
  • If you’re entering a room and your dog starts to jump up, immediately step back outside and close the door behind you, leaving it open just a crack. Through the crack in the door, say “Sit.” When your dog sits, calmly walk back into the room, kneel down and gently stroke her. If she jumps up again, quickly stand up and walk right back out of the room again, closing the door behind you. Again, keep repeating this training until new behaviour is formed.
  • Once your dog has learned to greet you politely, recruit some friends and family members to help you teach your dog to greet visitors politely as well. One at a time, have your friends practice the exercise above that starts with the person entering the house or room. Explain the sequence to them: turn their back, walk out and close the door if your dog jumps on them.

Then start your practice session with one of them knocking or ringing the bell, and go with your dog to answer it. Before you open the door, tell your dog to sit. When she does, open the door. If your dog jumps, your friend knows what to do. If your dog stays sitting, your friend can calmly greet her and you can praise and treat her. Repeat this process continually until your dog understands.

What not to do

  • Do not become really excited when you greet your dog. The calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be.
  • Do not shout at your dog when she jumps up on you or others. Shouting will just make her more excited and cause more jumping up.
  • Do not try to grab your dog or push away. Doing that could just cause more jumping up.

About the author

Nancy Boland

I'm Nancy, owner of a very spoiled, one eyed Jack Russell called Basil. I'm a trainee veterinarian with a love for all things dogs. I'm especially passionate about dog adoption and always advocate rescue and enjoy writing about canine health and nutrition, alongside overall well-being tips for happy dogs!

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