My dog jumps on people

Imagine for a minute that you were so short that you were feet away from the face of the people you wanted to interact with. It would be very tempting to jump up in order to be able to reach their hands or their faces so that they see you and interact with you, wouldn’t it?

Well puppies do just that, for practically the same reasons. And older dogs continue repeating this same behavior simply because they have learned that it works and that they get attention from jumping on people. Plus they usually do not know any other ways!

While jumping might sometimes be cute…it can be annoying and even dangerous depending on the size of the dog and the size of his victim (a 50lbs dog jumping on a 6 years-old child is a dangerous match). And it can be less not as cute if the dog’s paws are dirty or if the person is afraid of dogs. Because dogs cannot judge if a person is too frail to be jump on or if their paws are clean enough, it is better to teach one behavior that is appropriate at all times for all people.

But first and foremost, it is important that you understand why your dog jumps on people who come into your house or people you meet on the street. While over-excitement and a wish to interact is the most common reason for jumping on people, that same behavior could have a completely opposite goal, which is to protect their space. A lot of timid dogs have learned that if they jump and lick the people who bend over them, these usually rise up and leave their space. Obviously, the reason why your dog jumps on people will influence how you should address the behavior. In order to be able to make this important diagnostic, you have to watch your dog closely, and read his body language and <a href=”Imagine for a minute that you were so short that you were feet away from the face of the people you wanted to interact with. It would be very tempting to jump up in order to be able to reach their hands or their faces so that they see you and interact with you, wouldn’t it?
Well puppies do just that, for practically the same reasons. And older dogs continue repeating this same behavior simply because they have learned that it works and that they get attention from jumping on people. Plus they usually do not know any other ways!
While jumping might sometimes be cute…it can be annoying and even dangerous depending on the size of the dog and the size of his victim (a 50lbs dog jumping on a 6 years-old child is a dangerous match). And it can be less not as cute if the dog’s paws are dirty or if the person is afraid of dogs. Because dogs cannot judge if a person is too frail to be jump on or if their paws are clean enough, it is better to teach one behavior that is appropriate at all times for all people.

But first and foremost, it is important that you understand why your dog jumps on people who come into your house or people you meet on the street. While over-excitement and a wish to interact is the most common reason for jumping on people, that same behavior could have a completely opposite goal, which is to protect their space. A lot of timid dogs have learned that if they jump and lick the people who bend over them, these usually rise up and leave their space. Obviously, the reason why your dog jumps on people will influence how you should address the behavior. In order to be able to make this important diagnostic, you have to watch your dog closely, and read his body language and calming signals.

If your dog jumps on people to interact with them:

1) Ignore all jumping behavior. Do not talk to him, even to say “NO”, do not look at him and do not touch him (even pushing counts). Stand tall, turn your back to him, an cross your arms so that he cannot reach your hands. Your body language is saying to your dog that you do not wish to interact with him when he acts that way. This is a calming signal that dogs use with each others so chances are that you dog will understand quickly that jumping does not work (anymore).

Easy, isn’t it? The hardest part is however to make sure that every body your dog meets act in the same way and ignore all jumping behavior. If jumping sometimes works, your dog will want to try it again, and again, and again, as it is a tactic that might work and that is fun to do!

2) Your dog wants to say “hi”, so you have to teach him a more appropriate manner do to so. Pick any behavior you want, and reinforce your dog with attention, petting or food when he chooses that behavior. You could teach your dog to sit when he wants to interact with someone, to simply stay on his four paws without jumping, or to do a very polite play bow. It will be easier to choose a behavior he already knows, so that it might be one of the first thing he tries when he finds out that jumping no longer works. You can also lure him into the proper behavior/position, or you can simply ask him to sit or to do a playbow. Reward the behavior you want. As soon as your dog gets excited and resumes back to jumping, you stop petting him or interacting, and you go back to ignoring him.

Always ask for the same greeting behavior so that it becomes so natural to your dog that he is able to do it at all times, even when he is super excited to meet someone he really likes.

If your dog jumps on people to push them away:

1) You have to do the talking so that your dog does not have to jump on people to push them away from his bubble. Tell people you meet on the street or visitors to not stand over him or pet him until your dog has calmly walked up to them, has sniffed them and has shown a body language that shows relaxation and confidence. The person should stand still and ignore your dog, and if your dog is very timid, she can even crouch down and stand sideway to not look as tall and intimidating.

2) Make sure that all interactions with people respect your dog’s limits and end on a positive note. You are teaching your dog to not dread interactions with people, which is an important life lesson. Your dog will become more and more comfortable around people, which is definitely a plus as a scared and nervous dog can be an unpredictable dog.

It is even possible that your dog begins to like this kind of interaction so much that he becomes very excited…and starts jumping on people. If that is the case, good for you, and go back to teaching a more appropriate behavior to your dog.

One might ask why we can’t just teach any dogs to see when they meet someone, regardless of the reasons behind their jumping behavior. You would absolutely not want to force a dog into an uncomfortable situation in which he cannot tell the other people to back off “nicely” by jumping. You would be putting your dog in a situation where he would have to go with a different tactic such as barking, growling and even snapping, depending of his personality. Hence why it is very important to do a proper diagnostic right in the beginning so that you can take the right approach to teach an alternative behavior to jumping.

How to train puppy to not jump: http://www.vetinfo.com/how-to-train-puppy-not-to-jump.html
Here’s a video that teach you to have your dog stay on his four paws in all situations, even when he is very excited:

 

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