We still think puppies are cute and are happy that the dog seems to think we’re so great – but at the latest when the dog weighs a few kilos more and has just jumped through a muddy puddle, the fun stops for us humans. If you want to break your dog’s habit of jumping, you should train your dog to keep four paws on the ground in every situation.
Do you have to train your dog to stop jumping?
Jumping is not the same as jumping. And whether or not you need to work on getting your dog to jump is up to you. The important thing is – your dog should not jump at other people. You don’t always need the training to do this, in some cases prudence and management is enough.
Why do dogs jump at people?
Dogs jumping up are often immediately classified as a gesture of greeting or exuberant joy. But an exact description of behavior without interpretation will help you to recognize the motivation and emotions behind it in your dog.
Because let’s be honest – a joyful greeting can also take place without jumping. I have yet to meet a dog that has jumped at its human 20 times with a 100% happy greeting leaving bruises on the human. That’s why it’s important to look at each dog individually and describe the behavior without immediately interpreting it.
Stress, frustration, and conflict behavior
For example, when my dog jumps up on a human, he is at a high level of arousal at that moment and the jumping is a skipping behavior. Jumping up is rare and usually, there is another dog in such a situation, that the dog doesn’t feel 100% comfortable with. You can see jumping when a dog is torn between two motivations and therefore shows conflict behavior or skipping behavior. Jumping can also occur in stressful situations or when the dog is frustrated. Especially since your dog’s self-control quickly fails in such situations.
Pouncing can also be used as a deterrent to driving humans away. When they do this pounce, dogs often have high muscle tension, use a little more power, and you’ll see other expressions of aggression as well.
The tight leash
A tight leash on the dog often causes an increased level of excitement because the dog’s brain has linked: leash tight = watch out, something exciting is happening!
It is often the case that we tighten the leash and suddenly the dog jumps up. It might not have happened on a loose leash. That doesn’t mean that from now on you just let the leash slack and everything will be fine. You should observe whether a tight leash triggers your dog to jump and implement my training suggestions.
That’s why it’s important to look at and describe the dog and the situation individually, because most of the time, the dog’s behavior cannot be pigeonholed. For example, your dog may like my dog Paco very much to be close to people but sometimes would prefer to leave the situation by the presence of a certain dog. At the same time trying to be close to the person, but leaving the person’s dog on the side and walking away doesn’t work. Therefore, you should observe your dog’s behavior and the situation and not immediately put labels like joy, fear, aggression, or stress on your dog’s behavior.
Jumping is learned!
A dog that keeps jumping has learned it. Something increases the starting. It helps your dog and it is useful for him. And that’s not always the fault of the people who greet your dog when he jumps.
As a trick
You can train your dog to jump at you on the signal. If you’re not very precise when introducing the signal, your dog may sometimes misunderstand you and jump when you don’t want it to. Ascii, for example, can jump up on a signal to us. We have a very clear signal for this – we tap our collarbone three times with both (flat) hands. We usually never use this gesture in everyday life – this way Ascii knows exactly when to jump. (Due to his spondylosis and HD, we hardly ever use it these days.)
As an unwanted trick
It may also be that your dog learns: If the person has a ball in their hand, I have to jump up, and then the ball flies. This quickly turns the toy into a signal to jump up – at least for your dog. Or: If I jump fast enough and bump into my human, the ball or food will fall out of his hand.
The dog wants distance
The dog jumps at a human to ward him off. The human then takes a step back and no longer looks at the dog because defensive jumping can be painful depending on the effort and weight of the dog. This can strengthen defensive jumping because the dog has created some distance from the person. If a dog jumps at you defensively, you should back off. Please read this article for more information, because what applies to the growl also applies to the defensive lunge.
If the dog jumps up because it is stressed and/or frustrated, the jumping behavior will help it deal with the situation.
The dog rewards itself
For some dogs, jumping up is probably even self-rewarding and these dogs just enjoy jumping up. No matter how you act and how much you ignore your dog, he enjoys jumping.
What you should definitely leave out in training
Pushing away or kneeing the dog in the stomach usually doesn’t work at all and it has side effects. It can hurt the dog and scare your dog – your dog should not have such experiences with you or with other people. In addition, pain and fear create more stress and frustration, which can even trigger jumping again.
Denying your dog any direct contact with other people is not a solution either. Because you can’t always dodge and if a person suddenly comes near you, your dog will jump again. It would also be a shame for your dog if he liked other people and was no longer able to have contact with them.
Sometimes yes – but often we cannot ignore dogs that jump at us. For example, because it hurts us a lot or is simply annoying. And since jumping is likely to be self-rewarding for some dogs, ignoring it won’t help at all. And if your dog jumps at strangers, ignoring them is a bad idea.
Training to break the habit of jumping in your dog
Do you want your dog to learn to greet people without jumping at them? So ask yourself: What should my dog do instead of jumping up? Should he lie down all the time or can he stand around? Can he look at the human? Can he sniff the ground or people?
All four paws on the ground!
My goal in training is always that the dog leaves all four paws on the ground. If you don’t want your dog to sit all the time or something like that, that’s the easiest thing to do. If all four paws are on the ground, the dog will definitely not jump at people.
You can catch and reward the moment when all four paws are on the ground with your marker signal. Notice when your dog has all four paws on the ground and reward it. Your dog must first get to know the alternative to jump and this alternative must be worthwhile for your dog. Brushing your teeth every morning after getting up is normal for you after many years. You don’t even have to think about it anymore. Dogs that have been jumping at other people for years, for example in greeting situations, no longer have to think twice about how to behave.
If you’re now thinking, “My dog doesn’t always jump at people.” Great – then you have many chances to reward your dog when he has all four paws on the ground.
Manage your dog!
To get your dog off the habit of jumping, your dog should no longer have a chance to jump at people. As often as possible, you should arrange situations in such a way that your dog learns to keep all four paws on the ground. This is simple, but often not so easy to implement. It needs your attention and prudent behavior. Of course, a leash on the dog is also mandatory to keep your dog from jumping, because that gives you additional security.
If you know exactly in which situations your dog jumps at other people, you can speak to him beforehand, call him up or ask him for another signal.
This is how you practice greeting people in small steps without jumping
The triggers for jumping are different. Find out when your dog jumps up and breaks the whole situation down into small steps.
This is how you train in small steps – your dog will be able to endure the situation with all four paws on the ground.
It is often the case that the closer the human gets to the dog or the more the human is occupied with the dog, the faster the dog jumps up.
Think about your situation and when your dog shows interest in people. Your training should begin as soon as your dog looks at the human, not when your dog jumps up.
You can then create a list and know exactly how to train and how to proceed in greeting situations.
Example – situation or trigger for your dog:
- Human five meters away not looking at your dog
- Human five meters away looking at your dog
- People five meters away say “potato”.
- People five meters away saying “Hello”.
- People five meters away saying “Hello”.
- Human five meters away running towards you and your dog
- People five meters away, waving their arms or making other movements
- Human five meters away who speaks to your dog
- Human five meters away who says “hello” to you and walks toward you
- People three meters away saying “Hello”.
- Human three meters away addressing your dog in a high-pitched voice
- Human five meters away who speaks to your dog and runs toward you
- Human five meters away, crouching down
- A person two meters away who walks up to you and greets you
You give the marker signal when the dog looks at the stranger and has all four paws on the ground. When you give the marker signal, the stranger always stops, doesn’t look at the dog, or talk to him anymore. This will prevent you from making it too difficult for your dog. Because your dog should learn to leave his four paws on the ground in small steps.
You start with the trigger “person five meters away not looking at your dog”. When your dog faces this person and has all four paws on the ground, give your marker signal and reward your dog. Food, praise, and play are best suited at the beginning. If you become more confident in the process, you can also use various rewards there.
If your dog manages to look at the person five meters away (who is not looking at your dog) a few times on a loose leash and keep all four paws on the ground without being agitated, you increase the level of difficulty.
The person five meters away looks at your dog. (Please don’t stare, instead look naturally, blink and look away from time to time.)
When your dog faces this person and has all four paws on the ground, give your marker signal and reward your dog.
If your dog manages to look at the person five meters away (who is looking at your dog) a few times on a loose leash and keep all four paws on the ground without being agitated, you increase the level of difficulty again. And so forth.
By framing every dog greeting like this, he’ll learn exactly what you want – to keep four paws on the ground. And you get better and better at your timing and watching your dog, and you lose the fear of those situations. And your dog also learns that greeting situations are relaxed and the leash stays loose.
In order for your dog to keep all four paws on the ground, he needs good self-control. In youth development and under stress and frustration, this becomes difficult for your dog. Your dog needs more support in such a situation and you should then start to manage.
How do I get my dog to stop jumping?
Approach the dog, backing him up. You can even take his paws and make him take a few steps backwards on his hind legs. This is very uncomfortable for most dogs and after just a few attempts they completely stop jumping.
Why is my dog jumping at strangers?
When dogs jump at strangers, it’s usually a cry for attention and is due to a lack of training. It’s one of the most common complaints among dog owners, but is relatively easy to break compared to instincts.
How do I get my dog to ignore other people?
- As soon as your dog sees the other dog, stop and give him a treat.
- Then you increase the distance massively. For example, change the side of the street.
- With each attempt, you decrease the distance.
What to do if the dog follows you everywhere?
Last but not least, if your dog follows you everywhere in your house, it means that your pet loves you more than anything, that he wants to be with you always, and is ready to protect and defend “his loved one” at all times – and at that, your dog doesn’t even have to be a born guard dog.
When is the most difficult time with a dog?
Welcome to what is probably the most difficult phase of (dog) education – puberty. In this phase of life, everything is checked again for its suitability for one’s own living conditions. The biological function of puberty, or adolescence, is to prepare the dog for two future scenarios.
What to do when a dog snaps at strangers?
Respect. If your dog growls at you or even snaps at you, please take it seriously and give them the space they need when they need it. Growls and snaps are clear warnings that he is uncomfortable and needs more space, or that you should refrain from any particular action.