Q. How can we get our dog to stop jumping up on people? She gets so excited when she sees people and I know some people don’t like it.
A. Puppies jump on people to get closer to their faces so they can say hello and get attention, the same as they do with their canine mothers. Wolf pups run up to returning parents, jump on them and lick their muzzles in hopes of getting a meal. Jumping up is a natural behavior in the canine world, but should not be acceptable with humans. This is a problem that should be dealt with as soon as a new puppy is brought into the home. Puppies are so cute when they come running up and jump on you seeking attention. It is almost impossible to resist picking the pup up and cuddling them, but doing so only reinforces the behavior.
If that puppy grows to be 85 pounds, the cuteness of jumping up is gone and can be dangerous. They could knock over a child or someone elderly and cause physical injury. Even small dogs can cause painful scratches to someone’s legs or a toddler’s face. I don’t know if your dog is a puppy or an adult, but the method I am going to explain can work for any age dog.
The most important thing is not to pay any attention to your pet when she jumps on you. Do not push her down, knee her off, step on her back toes or squeeze her front toes trying to get her to stop jumping. This is giving her the attention she is seeking but in a negative way, which may make the dog fearful or even aggressive. Simply cross your arms and put your hands on the opposite shoulders and turn your back to the jumping bundle of fur and say “off.” Crossing your arms will not give the pup the opportunity to lick or nip at your fingers. You may find yourself turning in circles constantly in the early stages, but your persistence will pay off. The behavior may even get worse before improving with this method if the dog has been jumping on you for a long time and getting attention. She will be confused as to why she is not getting the same response as before.
When the pup has all four paws on the ground, that is when you praise and give a treat. If she knows the sit command, give the command when all her feet are on the ground, then quietly praise and give a treat while in the sitting position. If she starts to jump again while you’re praising her, again cross your arms and turn away and keep turning until she stops. She will begin to figure out that jumping does not get the attention she craves.
It is important all family members are on board with this technique. It won’t work if you do it, but another family member allows the dog to jump on them for pets and loving. Everyone has to be consistent. Praise is very important, along with a tasty treat in the beginning, when the dog is standing or sitting nicely at your feet waiting for attention.
It won’t be long before your girl realizes jumping doesn’t get her anything, but standing or sitting nicely when people approach or she approaches them will get exactly the attention she desires.
Good luck with your jumper. Hope this helps.
Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected].