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How to stop a dog jumping up

LAST UPDATED 23 February 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan BVSc (Hons)

You've just got home from work and you're trying to get in the front door with an armful of groceries. Your dog is soooooo pleased to see you that he jumps on you and the groceries end up on the floor making a lovely frittata mix on your carpet. You're at the end of your tether because, despite your best efforts to stop your dog jumping on you, he's still doing it. Don't despair - follow the four steps below and you'll have a clean floor and groceries to put away in no time.

1. Turn home time into calm time

2. Four on the Floor

3. Mutually exclusive behaviour

4. Jump up on command only

1. Turn home time into calm time

Your dog is going to be super excited when you get home regardless of how long you've been away. It's tempting to greet them with just as much enthusiasm, however, this will only make your dog think it's ok to jump all over you and bark. Pushing them off and/or yelling won't work as this will reinforce the behaviour by giving them what they want - attention.

The best thing to do is to ignore them, don't make eye contact and walk calmly into the house without speaking. If your dog jumps on you, turn your back on them, fold your arms over your chest and wait until they settle down and are sitting or lying calmly. Once they are calm, you can speak to them and pat them.

2. Four on the Floor

This is an excellent routine to teach your dog as it not only helps with jumping up, but also teaches impulse control when going through gates, doors etc. You will need another person to help you.

  • Put your dog on their lead and ask them to sit or lie down
  • Get your helper to walk towards your dog
  • Before the helper gets to your dog, put some treats on the floor for them
  • While your dog is eating the treats and is still sitting or lying down, have the helper greet and pat them.
  • Your helper should back away if your dog stops sitting or lying down and also before your dog has finished eating the treats.
  • When your dog is able to keep all four paws on the ground while being approached and greeted by your helper, let them greet your helper before you give them the first treat.
  • Once your dog understands the rules, you can give fewer treats each time until you can use being greeted as the only reward.

3. Mutually exclusive behaviour

A mutually exclusive behaviour is one in which your dog can't physically jump - eg. they are sitting or lying down. This is extremely useful for teaching your dog how to greet people appropriately when you are out walking or when people come to your home.

  • Start by attaching your dog's lead to something they can't pull away from
  • Walk a few metres away from your dog then ask them to sit or lie down.
  • When they do, start approaching them.
  • If they get up, walk away and ask for the sit or lie down again
  • Once they can stay sitting or lying down, you can go up to them and quietly greet them and pat them
  • As your dog gets better at this exercise, you can make your greetings more enthusiastic.

4. Jump on command only

Teaching your dog to jump on command may sound like a strange way to stop them from jumping on you, however, this can be an excellent way to guard against your dog becoming confused. In some family situations, there will be people who love having the dog jump up on them for hugs and pats and will continue to let the dog do this regardless of what other family members are trying to achieve.

The easiest way to solve this conflict is to teach your dog to jump on command only. Decide on a word like "Up" or "Jump" and use this word with a hand signal such as patting your chest. It is essential to also train a way to stop this behaviour with a different word such as "Stop" or "Enough".

Further Reading

Teach Your Dog To Sit

Teach Your Dog To Lie Down

Teach Your Dog To Stay

How To Stop Your Dog Pulling On The Lead