Dogs naturally jump up on people as a means of greeting them, and to show their loyalty. However, some do this to excess, not to only their owners, but to strangers as well. Dogs may also do this to get the attention of their owners, or sometimes even to show dominance. It may even just be pure enthusiasm. This is natural, but can be a problem. This forceful kind of jumping, especially with big dogs, can really be scary. Regularly training your dog can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of his natural jumping behavior.
You can stop your dog’s jumping behavior more easily than you might imagine. If you use his favorite treats to train him, he’ll learn very quickly what he has to do to get the treat. Dogs love treats and praise and will do whatever it takes to get them from you. He’ll quickly catch on that you only pet and praise him when he is not jumping up.
The first thing to do is to only greet your dog if he has his front paws on the ground. If your dog jumps on you when you first enter the house, simply ignore him and turn away, continuing to ignore him until he stands with his feet on the ground. He may keep jumping on you to get your attention for a while, so be sure to completely ignore him until he’s standing still. Then, give him a treat and pet and praise him.
You can also gently put your dog’s paws on the ground each time he jumps up on you. When his feet are on the ground, say “yes”, then give him a treat. Do it again and again. It won’t take long until your dog learns that the treat comes when his feet are on the ground.
Another tactic is to train your dog to sit on command, and then when he approaches you to jump up, ask him to sit and reward him for doing as he’s asked. Teaching him an alternative behavior is very effective in breaking the jumping habit. I have very successfully used this method in my own dog. Instead of jumping up to greet me, he now sits beside me for a cuddle. Instead of jumping, he now leans against my leg when I pat him, but I can live with that.
Many people advocate putting a knee up and pushing your dog in the chest to deter him from jumping. That’s not a good way to train a dog, and may in fact hurt him. It’s much easier to show your dog what you want him to do using treats, than it is to use punishment to stop the wrong behavior. It’s also much better for your relationship.
If all else fails, you can hire the services of qualified dog trainers and behaviorists to help you teach your dog to stop his jumping behavior.
Finally, although dogs can be trained any age, the best time to train them is when they are still puppies and haven’t yet learned any bad manners. You can quickly get them to learn your preferred behaviors. Puppy pre-school and dog obedience classes are an important part of raising a well behaved dog.
For more information on this topic visit the ASPCA.