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Breaking the Bouncing Habit: How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on You

Breaking the Bouncing Habit: How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on You

“If you’re a dog owner perplexed by your pet’s tendency to jump on you and others, rest assured that you’re far from alone! In fact, recent surveys indicate that around 56% of dog parents report that their furry friends regularly exhibit this behavior. Considering the prevalence of this widespread canine behavior, it’s certainly beneficial to understand why your dogs jump up in the first place.

Esteemed pet expert Steve Dale, CABC, who boasts over two decades of experience in the field, offers insights into the primary reasons why dogs jump on humans. According to Dale, these include:

  1. Welcoming their humans or guests: Dogs often jump up as a way of greeting their favorite people or visitors in a display of unbridled joy and affection.
  2. Expressing excitement: Dogs are very much like us humans – when they get excited, they can barely contain their enthusiasm. So, jumping up may simply be their way of saying, ‘I’m thrilled to see you!’
  3. Seeking attention: Just like a child may tug on a parent’s sleeve for attention, dogs too have their ways of ensuring they’re not overlooked. Jumping up is a common tactic they employ to grab your attention.
  4. Displaying aggression or fear: Not all jumping behavior is rooted in joy or affection. Sometimes, dogs may jump out of fear or aggression. It’s important to note the circumstances and body language that accompany such jumping incidents.

In the subsequent sections, we delve deeper into the science of why dogs jump and explore when it crosses the line from being an endearing habit to a problematic behavior. Moreover, we will offer the most effective training methods to curb dog jumping, aiding you in cultivating a harmonious and respectful relationship with your canine companion.

Decoding the Motives: Why Your Dog Jumps on You and Your Visitors

Our canine companions hold a special place in our hearts, with their quirks and behaviors often bringing a smile to our faces. However, there’s one common behavior that can oscillate between endearing and exasperating – their propensity for jumping up. Dale provides a comprehensive explanation for this frequent canine behavior.

  1. A Canine Salutation: The foremost reason that dogs jump, as explained by Dale, is simply their way of extending a greeting. Canines, unlike humans, believe in a face-to-face “hello”. “Dogs can only meet us at eye level if they jump up,” Dale asserts. It’s their way of making a connection, which, from their perspective, needs to be face-to-face.

Moreover, one of the many methods dogs use to express affection is by licking our faces. This might make us question – if this is their natural way of displaying affection, can we really blame them for wanting to jump up and greet us face to face?

Overflowing Enthusiasm:

According to Dale, the majority of dogs who jump do so out of sheer excitement. There are many triggers that can spur this ebullient behavior in your canine companions:

  • Homecoming Celebrations: When you or any other family member arrives home, your dog’s excitement knows no bounds, often leading to a jumping spree.
  • Welcoming Newcomers: The arrival of a guest can similarly evoke a burst of enthusiasm in your dog, prompting them to jump in greeting.
  • Anticipating Goodies: When you’re holding their favorite treats or preparing their meal, your dog’s excitement can literally have them leaping for joy.
  • Playtime: During play sessions, your dog’s energy levels soar, and this excitement may manifest as jumping behavior.
  • Pre-Walk Anticipation: Dogs love their daily walks, and the anticipation can sometimes result in your dog jumping up in sheer anticipation of the adventure to come.”

Each of these instances reflect your dog’s heightened state of happiness and anticipation, which they express through their jumps.

A Call for Attention:

Canines, much like us, have a need for attention, and jumping is one of their favored methods to grab ours. While this behavior might be frowned upon in human society, dogs have figured out that it’s a foolproof way to draw our gaze.

There can be various motives behind this attention-seeking behavior. At times, it might be your dog’s way of conveying their hunger and requesting a meal. In other cases, they could be communicating a more pressing need, such as a bathroom break.

It’s important to remember that, in their own canine way, dogs are simply trying to communicate their needs and desires to us through their actions, jumping included.

Manifestation of Aggression:

In certain instances, dogs may exhibit jumping behavior as a form of aggression. Dale elaborates that most aggressive behavior in dogs is rooted in fear, urging pet parents to scrutinize their dog’s body language for signs of anxiety during such jumping episodes. Studies on aggression in dogs directed at humans reveal that dogs are more likely to exhibit aggression towards strangers than towards their own family members.

Should you suspect that your dog’s jumping is a manifestation of aggression, Dale recommends consulting a professional – such as a positive reinforcement dog trainer, a certified animal behavior consultant, or a veterinary behaviorist.

It’s crucial to dispel the misconception that dogs jump on humans to assert dominance. Dogs do not jump on you or anyone else with the intention of establishing dominance. Their motivations do not align with the human concept of hierarchical dominance.

When Does Dog Jumping Become a Problem?

While a jumping dog may at times seem cute, the reality is that it’s not an ideal behavior. Beyond the inconvenience of muddy paw prints on everyone’s clothing, dog jumping can potentially pose a danger in certain situations.

Dogs are not capable of assessing whether the person they’re about to leap on can withstand their weight. This can result in dogs unintentionally knocking over children or, in more severe cases, elderly individuals.

Even the smallest of dogs can create hazards when they jump. Dale points out that little canines, acting like energetic jumping beans, can inadvertently trip up people, leading to potential injuries.

Strategies to Deal with a Dog Jumping on You The fundamental lesson you want your dog to understand is that rewards and positive interactions occur when they refrain from jumping.

Your primary goal should be to teach your dog that the old tactic of jumping to achieve their desires is no longer effective. With patience and consistency, your dog should eventually adapt, switching from jumping to seeking alternative ways to communicate.

Strategies to help guide your dog towards this behavioral change:
  • Disengage and Ignore: If your dog starts jumping, turn your back and only engage when they’ve calmed down. This teaches them that jumping will not result in the attention they crave.
  • Conditional Rewards: Determine what your dog seeks – be it dog food, favorite toys, or attention – and only provide it when they’re calm and not jumping.
  • Create a Calm Space: Dedicate a separate room as a calm space for your dog. This space can include soothing elements like a white noise machine, a cozy bed, and a pheromone diffuser.
  • Preemptive Isolation: Prior to opening the door for guests, relocate your dog to the safe room and ensure the door is securely closed. This prevents the excitement of new arrivals from triggering jumping behavior.
  • Distractions: Offer high-reward food puzzles and interactive toys to occupy your dog while guests are present in your house.
  • Controlled Reintroduction: Only allow your dog back into the main living space after your guests have departed.

It’s crucial to remember that curbing jumping behavior involves not interacting with your dog while they’re jumping. Avoid physical reactions such as raising your knee to block the jump, which could injure your dog and prove ineffective in the long run.

By following these steps, you not only ensure the safety of everyone involved but also discourage your dog from repeating the jumping behavior. It’s worth remembering that the more a dog practices a behavior, the more ingrained it becomes.

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Jumping

Having understood the reasons behind your dog’s tendency to jump on people and what immediate actions to take when it happens, the next step is to implement long-term training to stop the behavior.

Upon entering the house, Dale advises owners to turn away and patiently ignore the excited jumping. Once your dog tires out, you can then offer a calm greeting.

Dale also suggests encouraging your dog to engage in a behavior incompatible with jumping, such as fetching a toy from another room. While your dog is retrieving the toy, they’re not jumping. If your dog resumes jumping upon your attention, be patient and wait it out.

Another technique involves designating a specific spot for your dog when guests arrive. This could be their dog bed or a separate room. Using a leash or harness, gently guide your dog to this spot.

Finally, request your guests to wait until your dog has settled down before greeting them. This might require considerable patience on your part and your guests’, but the result will be rewarding in the long run.


Although the act of jumping can be frustrating, it’s essential to remember that your pup is usually just eager to greet you and receive a “hello” in return. By teaching your dog that this interaction can occur when they’re calm, you maintain their joy of greeting you while ensuring all four paws remain on the ground.

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