Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
A dog jumping up on people is a common problem, and it is one reason why a lot of people end up ignoring their dog and banishing it to the backyard (where the dog can dig, bark excessively, and try to climb the fence). However, it is something that is easy to deal with and no reason to exile a friendly animal.
So Why Do Dogs Jump up on People?
We stand up on two legs and dogs have to jump up to greet us. There is nothing more to it than that. Your dog is just trying to be friendly. She wants to say hello, she wants to say goodbye, or maybe she wants to tell you how excited she is about her new toy.
How to Train a Dog Not to Jump
The most important thing to remember, no matter how you choose to train your dog, is to be consistent. If you let her jump up on you Saturday morning when you are wearing your old jeans, she will think that it is okay to jump up on you Monday morning when you are dressed for that important meeting. Your dog does not own an iPhone with a calendar, she cannot tell the difference between the weekend and a workday. Don’t let her jump up only when you are in the mood.
- Teach Her to Sit: If you have not taught this command you should. It is one of the most basic obedience commands you need to teach every puppy. Every time your dog starts to jump up, tell her to sit and then lean down and praise her. If you do not feel like leaning down to scratch her ears, and tell her what a good dog she is, don't even bother. Your dog is only going to perform consistently when she knows that you really care!
- Tell Her to Go Fetch: If your dog acts like she is going to jump up and is so excited that she may not respond to a sit command, throw her something and tell her to go fetch. She will burn off some of the excess energy and when she comes back she should sit when you tell her to.
- Turn Your Back on Her: You may need to do this for 10 seconds, you may need to do it for five minutes. All dogs are different, and if she is really excited she might continue to jump. Outwait her.
Note: This is not the best method for kids or the elderly. If your dog is big and might knock someone down, be sure to focus on the “sit” command to calm her down.
Other Ways to Keep Your Dog From Jumping Up
I will give a list here of several alternatives that work as well as teaching her to sit, distracting her, or just ignoring her. Please keep in mind that—although many of these methods are recommended in dog training books and are even guaranteed to make your dog into a model companion—from a behavioral standpoint, they are likely to make your dog fearful and aggressive.
These methods might keep your clothes clean but they tend to ruin the bond you are forming with her. You might also end up consulting an expensive behaviorist or being sued after your dog bites one of the neighbors who happens to be carrying a fly swatter or similar. So always be cognizant of how you shape and influence your dog's behavior.
- Pop a plastic bag when your dog is about to jump up. This startles her. (Products like the Pet Corrector work well, too).
- Spray your dog in the face when she is about to jump up with a squirt bottle. I have been told this does not work with Labrador Retrievers since they love water and will jump up even more!
- Use your knee to block your dog from jumping up by lifting it diagonally across your body. This is better than using your hands. Never directly knee your dog—besides making the dog afraid of you, this technique may also end up injuring your dog.
My dog seems to have this exercise completely mastered. In fact, I'm sure she has learned this concept, except with an old German neighbor who comes by periodically to visit. He tells me that he is upset by my dog jumping up on him, but then proceeds to scratch her ears when she has her paws on his chest, and then lets her lick him in the face.
He is giving her mixed signals. DO NOT do this to your dog.
Jumping is normal behavior and not something you should punish your dog for. If you don’t want a dog that jumps, you can utilize these training techniques, but they are not going to work for you overnight. Even if your dog is well trained, she might make a mistake. Don’t punish her for it. Just bend down and let her lick your face.
Dog saliva comes off with soap and water.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I've consistently worked to train my dog for five years, but my dog still jumps. Now what?
Answer: If you have taught your dog to sit on command, and you never greet her when she jumps UNTIL she sits, the next step would be to take her to a professional trainer or an animal behaviorist. If you do not know who to contact in your area, ask your vet, and he can refer you to someone locally.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 30, 2019:
Deb, if the dogs are jumping on you they will eventually cause you to fall. If you are in an urban area tell the neighbors that if they do not keep their dogs confined you will call animal control as they are a threat to your health. (It does not matter how nice they are. If you fall down and break a hip they are large enough.)
If you live in a rural area, or do not have animal control available, there are options. Talk to the neighbors, but if this continues you can try spraying the dogs face with water. If this continues you MUST consider your health at risk and carry a dog safe pepper spray. (available at Amazon) It usually only takes once and the dogs will not bother you anymore.
Deb.BR549 on June 29, 2019:
I'm in my 60 my neighbor has 3 dogs that run lose all 3 of them jump on me when I'm outside .I'm unable to walk and in fear of falliing.I can't do the knee thing,I'm not physically able what can I do solve this problem?
Tim on October 31, 2016:
I have a boxer-bulldog mix, he just turned 6 months old and he loves to jump. WHEN he starts I tell him to sit, if that don't work then I turn my back on him. Sometimes I will stand there looking at him with my hands on my hips then he will sit with his head bowed down, or lays down. WHEN he does this I will then pet him and praise him.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 10, 2014:
Hopefully they will have at least trained her to sit. If not, turning your back on her until she calms down is really the best method when it is not your own dog. Good luck with her.
Country Sunshine from Texas on December 06, 2014:
A friend's dog always jumps on me when I visit. I'm going to try some of these tips to see if I can get it to stay down.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 18, 2013:
Back in the 70s, everyone was recommending that "knee them in the chest" routine. You said it: yikes. It would hurt but wouldn't calm me down.
aykianink on January 17, 2013:
I've had a friend ALWAYS let her dog jump on me. I...am not cool with this. So... "Sit!" is the answer, eh? My friend never invokes that...ever. She must be torturing me. Hm.
On another note, KNEEING your dog should never be an option. I guess this is from the old days where you choke your dog with a gigantic chain...yikes...
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 02, 2012:
DoItForHer on August 02, 2012:
"Kick 'em in the groin!"
I get so tired of hearing that one.
marthamuldoon from Austin, TX on July 31, 2012:
No, they're not growing out of it. You're ceasing to reward behavior you don't want. Save the attention for when they're doing what you do want - sitting or lying down calmly. Once you stop rewarding the jumping by talking to them, petting them, etc., they stop. Ideally you can train them to do that, as you suggest, but I haven't had much luck with that. Really, when I come home, my dog is calm, because I don't make a big event out of it, but when my husband does, she jumps all over the place because he talks to her in an excited voice. Now, if only I could train my husband...
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 31, 2012:
I like that "at least one can hope". I don´t really like to ignore, even though it is highly recommended, and just hope eventually the dog will grow out of the behavior. At least one can hope...
Thanks for the comment!
marthamuldoon from Austin, TX on July 31, 2012:
These are good suggestions, though I think you're right that some could backfire, depending on the dog. Another idea is to ignore your dog when you get home. Your dog is excited because you pet them and greet them and encourage them when you get home. If you ignore them, get changed, etc., and generally don't make a big deal about coming home, they don't get as excited and don't jump as much. Ignore them if they jump. Once they're calm, you can give them a treat and pet them. That way you're rewarding calm behavior, rather than excited behavior. Eventually, they'll stop jumping altogether. At least one can hope....