There’s no doubt dog jumping is annoying, but the reality is it’s a normal behavior. Canines greet face-to-face. And puppies quickly learn that humans keep their faces high off the ground, so the best way to almost always get some sort of attention is to jump. The dog isn’t trying to establish dominance or to prove anything -- except for his enthusiasm.
Step No. 1 to Stop Dog Jumping: Redirect your dog.
Stop dog jumping by first teaching your dog something you want him to do when he greets you. One of the easiest cues to use is “Sit,” since most dogs have practiced this command a lot. Make sure you practice it in the location you want to use it (e.g., by the front door).
And don’t wait until a new, exciting guest is at the door. Practice often in less challenging situations. For example, ask friends to practice coming back in the door after they’ve been around for 20 minutes. As your dog approaches, ask him to sit before he has a chance to jump up.
For a few days, I also suggest practicing a “coming in the door” greeting 15 minutes or more after you actually arrive home, so your dog has time to calm down a bit. When your dog can calmly manage that interval, cut the time to 10 minutes after your arrival for a few days, then “come in the door” five minutes after you get home. Eventually your dog should learn to chill out the first time you walk through the door!
Step No. 2 to Stop Dog Jumping: Prevent and don’t reward jumping.
Prevent your dog from jumping on guests by taking the following steps:
- Keep your dog confined, away from the door before you open it for a guest (e.g., in another room, outside, etc.). For many dogs, the sound of a doorbell or knocking brings them to a high excitement level. Let your guest come in and settle down before you bring in your dog.
- When you bring out your dog to greet the guest, keep him on a leash. You can hold the handle of the leash and stand on the middle of it (or closer to your dog, as necessary) to physically prevent your dog from jumping up while you stand next to him. Reward your pal for not jumping.
Step No. 3 to Stop Dog Jumping: Claim your space.
If your dog does jump, give him “the cold shoulder” to show that he won’t get attention from you by jumping on you. Make sure that your dog gets no attention from you when he jumps (and doesn’t get to take over your space) but that he does get attention when he greets you nicely and keeps paws on the ground. Remember: This will be very brief moments at first before your dog can’t resist the temptation to jump. So you’ll turn away and then turn to him, back and forth within one greeting session.
With big dogs, I like to take a big step into their space even as I’m turning my attention away. If this is a difficult combination to perform, try to imagine yourself as a big truck or barge and just take one step plowing into his space as you stare ahead -- without looking at, or talking to, your dog -- or as you turn your face and shoulder away from him.
Step No. 4 to Stop Dog Jumping: Break the chain of canine behaviors.
Many dogs learn to jump first and then go into a polite sit to earn a treat. If your dog is capable of sitting first, then it’s time to break that chain of behaviors apart. If you can see your dog occasionally controlling the impulse to jump, then it’s time to tell your dog that jumping forfeits the reward. If your dog jumps first, then the sit is not rewarded afterward. You can take a step away from your dog and invite him to come greet you again. If your dog sits without jumping, then jackpot him!
Like all natural behaviors, dog jumping is a hard one to stop once it’s learned, but it can be done!