Whether you’re thinking about bringing a new puppy home or already have a fluffy ball of energy in your household, at some point all pup-parents need to know how to stop a puppy jumping up on people.
What begins as an adorable greeting from your new puppy quickly becomes a routine of unwanted nipping and scratching as your puppy gets older and bigger. The best way to have a well-behaved adult dog is to start early by teaching your puppy appropriate manners.
First let’s talk about why so many dogs jump on their people. Rest assured, this is not just a result of poor puppy-parenting.
Why Do Puppies Jump Up?
We can look to a dog’s wild ancestors for a plausible explanation; wolves use muzzle-licking to show deference to a pack member with higher status. It’s possible your puppy simply wants to reach your face and lick it to appease you as their pack leader. Learn more about the body language of wolves here.
Whatever the cause, jumping up on people is a natural response when a puppy is excited. Engagement from people (i.e. excited voices, head pats, and play) are encouraging behaviors that reward the puppy for jumping, intentional or not. Rewarding the behavior makes it much more likely the behavior will reoccur.
Though jumping up on people is very cute when a puppy is small, as they grow bigger this behavior will become a real problem. So, how do you stop a puppy jumping up on people?
How to Stop a Puppy Jumping Up
The key to training a puppy to stop jumping up on people is consistency. Each time someone excitedly greets your puppy or plays with them when they are jumping, the behavior is reinforced. We need to break this cycle of reinforcement so the puppy receives no satisfaction from jumping up.
1. Ignore Them
When your puppy is jumping up on someone, tell the person to ignore them. Easier said than done, I know, but your puppy is jumping on people to get attention, so withholding attention will show your puppy his method is not effective. Stop all interaction with your puppy until you get “four on the floor,” meaning all four paws are on the ground.
How do we accomplish this?
- Do not speak to, yell at, or pet your puppy
- If your puppy resorts to nipping, cross your arms to keep your hands out of reach
- Do not make eye contact and turn away
- If your puppy runs around to your front, continue rotating so your back is to your puppy
When your puppy finally gives up and stands still (which could take a while…), reward! Reinforce the behavior by giving your puppy lots of love and attention. Just make sure to do so in a calm manner – no yelling or high-pitched voices – otherwise they may get too excited and begin jumping again. This is called positive reinforcement. To read more about positive reinforcement head here.
Consistency is key. All members of your household need to uphold the “no jumping” rule, otherwise, your puppy will be confused about when it is and is not ok to jump up.
2. Teach your puppy to sit
After your puppy starts to get the idea with Step 1, add a cue for “sit”. Tips for training your puppy to sit can be found here. When your dog sits, even if his butt barely touches the ground, get down on his level by kneeling and reward him with pets and praise. Repeat several times.
3. Anticipate the Jump
Recognize which situations may lead to your dog jumping up and try to prevent the behavior before it occurs. Here are some scenarios where your dog may jump up:
- When you first get home
- When guests arrive at your home
- When you let your dog out of a room or crate
- When greeting friends or strangers on a walk
Prevent your puppy from jumping up in these scenarios by asking them to sit. Once your puppy is in a sit allow them to calm down before greeting them politely and calmly.
4. How to Stop Your Puppy From Jumping on Other People
You’ve done the training. Now you’re ready to take your puppy into the real world and show everyone how polite they are. Or are you?
Unfortunately, even the best-trained puppy can forget their training in the excitement of new situations. To set your puppy up for success, your next step should involve a friend or family member to act as your helper to work with your puppy in and around your home.
- Have your helper go through steps 1-3. Repeat several times until your puppy readily sits to greet your helper when they enter a room or come through the front door.
- Put your puppy on a leash and try the exercise in the garden or on the street near your home. Have your helper approach your puppy from down the street or around a corner.
- Next try as many other helpers as you can find: family members, friends, or even neighbors!
Repeat each of these exercises several times until your puppy is able to regularly perform a calm, polite greeting. If your puppy has a backslide in behavior, don’t fret! Simply back up a step until behavior improves before moving onto the next exercise.
5. The Real World
Once your puppy has mastered the “real-world scenarios,” with a helper, it’s time to test the mettle in the actual real world on walks and other trips outside of the home. Remember the key is to set your puppy up for success and anticipate the situations in which your puppy will want to jump.
When you are out and about with your puppy, keep them on a leash for everyone’s safety and comfort (read more about leash safety here). Keep the leash short enough so your puppy walks beside you, not in front of you. This will help you keep your puppy from jumping on strangers before you have a chance to divert their behavior into a sit.
If a stranger wants to greet your puppy, let them know your puppy is in training and to back away if they try to jump up. Put your puppy in a sit and allow the stranger to greet your puppy. If your puppy stands up, tell the stranger to back away until your puppy is again sitting calmly.
Stopping a Puppy From Jumping Up
Raising a well-mannered puppy is an on-going process. Introducing your puppy to as many different people and situations as possible will help create a calm, polite dog capable of greeting strangers without jumping all over them, but it is a long process.
Do not get discouraged by seemingly slow progress or taking steps back in your training. You will see improvements in your dog’s behavior over time as long as you and those you come into contact with are consistent in training.
Be consistent, be firm, but most importantly, have fun with your canine companion!
Did you have trouble with your puppy jumping up when you first brought them home? Do you have any additional tips on how to stop a puppy from jumping up? Let us know in the comments below!