Many dogs just love to jump up on people to greet them. This is their way of saying high. This is often encouraged in puppies, as everyone loves to have a cute, tiny puppy jump up and say hello. Unfortunately, most people don’t want their grown dogs to continue to jump up on people and strangers, but by that time, they’ve been conditioned to see it as a rewarding experience. And, many people inadvertently continue to reward this behavior, even when they don’t want it anymore.
Modifying any behavior takes time. Stop your dog from jumping up on people is no exception. However, as far as behavioral issues go, this one is relatively easy to change if you do it right, and you are consistent and patient.
Why Dogs Jump Up on People
Simply speaking, dogs jump up to greet. Although this isn’t strictly a natural behavior, it is broadly and consistently encouraged in most dogs from the time they are puppies. They learn that saying high to humans means jumping up on them, sniffing, licking, and/or pawing them.
Now, when most people are encountered with a dog jumping up on them and want the dog to stop, they generally push the dog off. The problem is that dogs love to make physical contact with us, and they’re likely interpreting the push as play or physical affection. These are both highly rewarding, which reinforces their jumping behavior. Yelling “no” rarely is productive, as your speaking is seen as a positive reinforcer for the behavior.
How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping Up
Don’t Encourage High Excitement Levels
Your dog is always happy to see you when you come home from being away from the house. We’re usually happy to see them as well. Unfortunately, if you encourage your dog to be excited when you greet them after coming home, you are stimulating their response and increasing their reward for greeting people in an excited manner. When greeting your dog, acknowledge them with a calm voice and try to avoid engaging them or petting them until they have all their feet on the floor and are calmly waiting for your attention. This allows them to learn that the reward of a greeting is only received when they are being well behaved, instead of when they are excited.
Ignore Your Dog When They Jump
This is a straightforward, easy, common-sense step that is the biggest key to keeping your dog from jumping on people. When your dog jumps on you, do not touch them and do not say anything. Instead, turn your back and look away. Do not acknowledge the jumping behavior in any way. Being consistent with this will teach your dog that this type of behavior is no longer rewarding because they are no longer getting attention for doing it. This technique is highly effective, but it has to be employed consistently and by everyone who greets your dog. Have everyone who interacts with your dog ignore the jumping every time the dog does it. The more consistent you employ this, the quicker your dog will learn that jumping isn’t fun anymore.
Reward Your Dog for A Nice Greeting
When you greet your dog and they are waiting patiently, with all their feet on the ground, give your dog praise and attention. If your dog jumps up again, turn your back and ignore them again. You will probably have to repeat this dance many times when you first start. However, eventually your dog will start to see that a nice greeting results in attention, while a bad greeting does not. The jumping behavior may get worse before it gets better. Don’t get discouraged – this is normal. It will take your dog a little time to puzzle out why their old behavior isn’t working anymore.
When it comes to dog behavior, it is generally much easier and quicker to train a dog to do something, than to get the dog to stop doing something. Jumping on people has likely been inadvertently reinforced by yourself and others throughout the dog’s life, so it will take some time to modify their behavior. However, if you practice consistency and patience, you will be rewarded with a dog that no longer jumps up on people to greet them. Just remember, dog’s always do what is most rewarding, so make sure that the unwanted behavior is never rewarded, and the desired behavior is always rewarded. This is the key to changing your dog’s behaviors as quickly and efficiently as possible.