BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Stop a Dog from Jumping on People: Practical Tips to Keep Your Dog Grounded

Image showing little dog jumping on a man
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

We keep dogs around the house not just because they make for good partners and security agents when we are not around, but also because they have a way of lavishing on us their undivided love and attention. However, it can get frustrating at some point, most especially if you’ve got a dog that can’t stop getting excited and jumping on people, no matter what you do. Many people have asked the question of how to stop a dog from jumping on people, and today, we are going to address just that.

There are many how-to articles or even professional trainers out there that claim you need to be strict on your dog to make them understand. But we know you don’t really want to scold them since you understand that your dog does not have any ill will. They are simply trying to express their love and excitement. The methods we are going to explain today are not only effective at making your dog understand how to properly behave around people—they will also keep the trust and bond between you and your dog intact.

Adorable little dog enjoying time with his owner

Having consulted with our store of in-house experience on this issue, we have been able to separate the wheat from the chaff, what works from what doesn’t. In this list, you would be getting practical knowledge. This hands-on experience will make it easier for you to solve this problem. Before going any further though, has it never puzzled you why cute, little Fido would always jump on almost anyone, even when you have tried to dissuade him from such acts in the past?

Why They Do It

Puppies have a lot of ways with which they communicate with humans and between themselves. They bark, they whine, and they do cute things to attract your attention. Why can’t they just stick to all of these instead of jumping on people? The issue can be best explained under three different points as follows.

That’s How They Interact with Bigger Dogs

For puppies, they have learned to interact with bigger dogs by sniffing their muzzles or just getting close to their face. Since they are none the wiser about human cultures, the best way they know to interact with you is by trying to get as close to the human’s face as possible.

Dogs jumping for treats is fun, but dogs sometimes need to be trained that jumping

By jumping up to the face of the person, the puppy is not only trying to interact with them but also to make out their distinctive scent. After all, humans are known to emit one of their strongest scents around the face (and at the crotch).

That’s How They Play

I don’t think there is any dog that doesn’t like to play. For puppies especially, it is not rare to see them jump on one another. Again, the dog doesn’t know that things are done in the human kingdom a little differently.

That’s How They Try to Gain Your Attention

Sometimes, your dog is just a good ol’ attention-seeker. There are some breeds of dogs that like to jump on people more than others. The Labrador, for example, is one breed of dog that can easily get overexcited. The Labrador is more likely to jump on people than any other dog breed.

Image showing a brown dog jumping on a person

The matter is made worse if you didn’t know about this and continued to indulge them when they were puppies. When they were little, you might have picked them up often when they started their little anxious jumps. That might have helped the dog calm down, but what you may not know at the time is that you were doing the canine, and yourself, more harm than good.

First, you’re not letting the dog learn how to calm down on its own. Second, you’ve successfully taught them that jumping on people is a good way to get attention. Care must be taken to nip the issue in the bud. Getting into the theme for today, let’s look at some surefire ways to keep your dog’s four paws on the floor at all times.

How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on Guests

All of the training methods in here have been proven to work on any kind of dog, and they can be applied either partially or wholly. Note that not all dogs would respond to the same training in the same timeframe.

Some dogs are more intelligent than others, so they would get the message faster. Likewise, you play a crucial role in determining the success of this particular training for your dog. Without much ado, let’s sink our teeth into the juicy part of today’s post

Keep the Dog Calm

Dogs are easily excited, and that is one of the reasons why we like them so much, but we want to dampen that quality now. When you notice that there is a guest at the door, make sure your dog is put on a leash before you go answer the door. To make this training more effective, use a head halter. That way, the dog simply can’t greet the guest by jumping.

Boston terrier peeking out from covers

When the dog has started to show signs of calming down, you can then lead them to the guest so that they can say hello. Along the way, should he jump or get unnecessarily excited again, gently lead him away till he calms down. Very soon, your dog would get the cue and stop making you lead it away at intervals.

Gag the Dog

I did not mean this literally (that would be way too cruel). Basically, some dogs would be less tempted to jump on people when they have something in their mouth. If your dog happens to be in this category, this can be a (short-term) solution for those of you who want to try other things.

Image showing two dogs having something in their mouths

You would need to determine what it is your dog likes to hold in their mouth. While some dogs love stuffed toys, others would prefer balls. Once your dog responds to this kind of training, keep the desired toy near the door. As soon as the doorbell rings, gag the dog!

Train the Dog to Sit, Again!

For this particular training system to work, we are assuming that your dog has already been trained to obey the ‘sit’ command. If that has been checked, get a family member/friend that your dog normally likes to greet.

Image showing a woman learning her dog to sit

With your dog beside you, ask him to ‘sit’ and then, let the greeter start approaching you. Should the dog stand up, the greeter should turn away. Repeat this process several times.

At the time when the dog gets the cue and doesn’t stand up anymore, the greeter can then give him a treat as a reward. You should know that doing this once doesn’t guarantee total success, but over time, your dog learns to sit while greeting.

Cut the Rewards

Dogs like to continue with a behavior that has been rewarded and let go of ones that aren’t that rewarding. We, ourselves, have used that concept more than once in the development of this piece. It can be taken to the next level by treating it as a training method on its own too.

Image showing a dog looking at a reward

When guests that the dogs love to greet come around, advise them not to give the dog any kind of attention when they start jumping. They should not look at it, but straight ahead. Likewise, they should not pick up the dog or give them some treats. After a while of unrewarding attention-grabbing, your dog should be intelligent enough to know that such behavior is just not funny anymore.

Contain the Dog

Let’s face it. Some dogs are just too naturally excited to completely master the art of not jumping on people. That does not mean you can’t find a way to keep them contained though. Simply remove the dog to a contained area when you have guests around. For smaller dogs, you can let them spend some time in an exercise pen or small kennel. Big dogs can be moved (with a good dog crate) into another room for a while.

When they have shown signs of calming down, you can then lead the dog out to greet the guest. Don’t forget to put the leash on. We don’t want any surprises now, do we? Now that you have seen all you can do to stop your dog from jumping on people, there still remains one question many would be left with.

Image showing a dog with a leash jumping on a person

Guests don’t live with you, and when they do leave, you will be left alone with your dog. Even if the stranger doesn’t reward their jumping (as you have instructed), the dog might still feel it has a good chance to pull it off with you.

Worse than with a guest, you can’t simply slam the door in your dog’s face to teach him a lesson because it can backfire and ruin your relationship with your dog. Therefore, the methods on how to keep your dog from jumping on you are different from how to keep your dog from jumping on guests.

How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on You

While looking at how to stop a dog from jumping on you, it would make sense to mention what you should not do. Some procedures advise the knee-in-the-chest method, but we will strongly recommend that you don’t try this at all.

Image showing a man walking with his dog

Basically, the knee-in-the-chest approach asks that you raise up a knee when the dog jumps, so they land on that knee (ouch!) instead of your soft stomach/chest. Doing that would just hurt your dog, make them feel slightly betrayed by you (although they would still forgive you), and in the end, your dog wouldn’t have learned the message you’re trying to get across to it. Instead, you could try to:

Turn Away

When the dog starts coming at you with the intention to jump (you’ll usually be able to sense this after they’ve been doing it for a while), simply turn your side to them.

Image showing a dog laying down and looking to a pair of shoes

Make sure you don’t initiate any eye contact with the dog so they know you’re ignoring them. Bringing your hands up to your chest is also a good idea since they won’t have anything to rub against. If they are not getting a response, your dog should be clever enough to know that what they are doing is unrewarding and won’t work.

Use the Door

Your dog would most likely want to jump on you as soon as you come in through the door. If this happens, simply step back out, close the door, and come in again.  You might have to endure the pain of seeing that dejected puppy eyes your dog gives you a couple of times before the dog fully calms down. By doing this, your dog is bound to infer that his jumping is causing you not to come in through the door, and he’ll stop doing that.

Get Down

Above, we’ve explained the reason why dogs jump. One of them is because they want to get your attention. To minimize this, consider getting down to their level when you come in. By doing so, they will feel like you have given them the attention they deserve so there will be no more need to jump.

Image showing a woman looking down to her dog

While resting in a chair, you could let your hand hang down the side. Since the dog would naturally want to be petted, their attention could be directed towards the hand rather than your face.

Wrap Up

Care must be taken when using treats to reward good behavior in your dog, especially when it’s to stop them from jumping on you. A dog might misinterpret the treat and think they always get it because they jump, and then sit again. Unknowingly, you would be making the problem worse.

While in training, it is advised that you let strangers know what you’re doing, especially when outdoors. This is so that they are better informed against petting your dog when he jumps on them. Getting your dog to stop jumping on you and other people is not something that can be finalized in a day, but with patience and love, your dog will get it in time.

Image showing a dog sitting down at the level of a man

Did you find our article useful? Have you ever lived with a dog that loves to jump on people? If you have, how did you get him to stop? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section below!

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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