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Why does my dog jump on people?

As dog lovers and owners, we understand how frustrating it is when your furry friend jumps up on people and you just want it to STOP!

So, how can you best help your dog?

  1. Learn to understand what the function of the behaviour is, it is usually driven by an emotional need

  2. Find ways to prevent the rehearsal of unwanted behaviour, some suggestions are below!

  3. Train your dog to do an alternate behaviour, we will tell you how!

Several common reasons for dogs to jump up: seeking social interaction, greeting, excitement, seeking engagement from a person, jumping up towards something they want like a toy or treat, or even asking for help when they are worried and need comforting. You will also see pawing actions that follow similar needs.


Dogs are social animals and jumping up on people is a natural way for them to greet and interact. When you are connecting with your dog, all the sounds and interaction stem from connecting with your face/eyes! Jumping up is the closest they can get to a face-to-face greeting as they would do with other members of their species.

Jumping up behaviour is a form of communication and it has a purpose.

We often see small dogs that jump incessantly. Sometimes it is that they are asking for help and to be comforted when they are worried or overwhelmed by what is happening around them. But they are not the only ones to jump, big dogs jump up too!


This is not to say that you should continue to have your dog jump all over you, after all, it is not usually very enjoyable and can hurt! We can certainly teach our jumping beans a different way to communicate with us what they need.


Ideas:

  1. For fear response jumping: teach your dog to come sit between your knees instead of jumping up. This way they can have lots of close contact and protection to feel safe.

  2. For excited response jumping: Teach your dog to sit or settle on their bed or a lead at a distance from the person to earn access to greeting people.

  3. Rewarding or distracting opposite to the direction your dog is about to go. You know they want to jump up towards the person, so roll a treat down and away behind them to counter the action before they have a chance to rehearse the jumping.

  4. Sprinkling a few treats on the floor can help them calm down from the initial excitement of you or other people coming in before they have a direct interaction with people. You can continue to add treats until the dog is calmer.

  5. Management examples: putting the dog on a leash so it can't reach the person to jump on, or putting them behind a barrier like a baby gate.

Management will prevent the rehearsal of the dog jumping up, It does not teach a replacement skill! Make sure you focus on both management to prevent rehearsing unwanted behaviours and training to replace them with better choices.

Extinguishing the behaviour

There are other things we can do, like ignoring the dog when it jumps up. This process is called extinction. This means a behaviour that used to get them the attention, will no longer work. Of course, this is usually something they have done hundreds of times and we often respond in some way (pushing the dog off, telling them to stop, letting out an explosion of breath etc), which is getting that dog the attention or interaction it is looking for. If you respond sometimes, your dog will just get more frustrated when you don't respond and try even harder to get your attention. This is not just frustrating for the dog, but for you as well. Training is a much more effective and less frustrating way than ignoring, and it will get you faster results.


How effective is scolding or punishing to reduce jumping up on people?

Remember we mentioned dogs are often looking for attention? For dogs, all attention is good attention, even if you are upset, they still got your full and undivided attention, and the cycle continues!

If you were to use physical force and push the dog, it is likely the dog will come back for more or, at worst, the dog will become afraid of you and your relationship will suffer.


Provide your dog with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization to help reduce their excitement and anxiety levels. Regular training and obedience classes can be so incredibly beneficial to help your furry friend become a well-behaved and polite member of society.


It is OK for your dog to jump up, but make sure it is by YOUR INVITATION so you can have a hug and enjoy your dog greeting you with enthusiasm and make sure you and your dog have a way of greeting that meets both of your needs!


If jumping on people is a behaviour that is causing trouble in your life, contact our Best Paw Forward / DAWG Certified Professional Dog Trainers to get help!




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