Why do dogs jump up on you?
Jumping up is a natural instinct in dogs. Jumping up is a way of saying hello, showing affection, and asking for something, especially food. A hungry puppy will jump up and try to lick their mother's lips. In dog language this means: “I'm hungry, please feed me”.
Jumping is also a form of play. Playing is very important, especially for puppies. It's a way for them to make friends. They're also learning how to operate in groups, and how to use their bodies.
Why is my dog jumping up at strangers?
They might just be saying hello. Although the animal has good intentions, this can be intimidating for people who aren't familiar with dogs. It's especially unnerving if you have a particularly large dog.
Dogs may also jump on strangers when they're nervous or anxious. Dogs operate in packs and hierarchies. An unfamiliar person can disrupt their sense of order. They'll start thinking things like: “who's this guy? What's he doing here? And is he more important than me?” This is really unsettling for a dog, and jumping on the stranger becomes a way of regaining control. It’s up to the owner to teach their dog that they don’t need to be worried about people and that they have better alternatives when they feel uncomfortable. You could, for instance, train your dog to move away and stand behind you when people enter the house.
Why is my dog jumping on me?
Your dog might be bored or frustrated. They may have lots of pent-up energy, especially if they're not getting enough exercise. Dogs who've been left alone for long periods of time often jump up at their returning owners. They could just be happy to see you, or it could be a sign of separation anxiety.
How to stop your dog jumping up
The first thing you need to do is make sure the dog's needs are being met. All dogs need exercise, but some need much more than others. Do some research on your pooch’s breed to make sure they're getting enough exercise. Remember that it’s important to give your dog opportunities for both physical and mental exercise. Additionally, try not to leave your dog alone for too long.
If your dog continues to jump up, it's time for some extra doggy training.
Dogs tend to jump on their owners when they return after they have been out. They've missed you, and they want some affection. It’s only natural to give some back, but this can actually encourage the unwanted behaviour. Think about it. If you give him a big fuss every time he jumps up, then you're essentially rewarding your dog for his inappropriate behaviour - why would he stop.
Until your dog calms down, you must stay strong and ignore him. Once he’s settled, wait a few more moments, then give him the affection or treats he deserves. If you realise that he is struggling to settle down on his own, ask your dog to sit or lay down, then reward him with some attention. Repetition and consistency are really important. Stick with it, and your dog will soon understand what you want.
You also need to stop him from jumping up on strangers. Take a practical approach. If you're expecting visitors, keep your dog on a leash, or keep him away from the "stranger" until he’s calmed down. Distracting your dog is another good idea. When “strangers” arrive, divert your dog's attention with food and toys. Do this a few times, and he’ll soon lose interest in the “new” people.
A few extra tips
Dogs are experts at reading body language. They can also “smell” our emotions. Once a dog knows how we feel, they tend to mimic (or even exploit) our emotional state. For example, if you're nervous and anxious, your dog is likely to feel the same way. In other words, chilled out owners tend to have chilled out dogs. Nervous owners tend to have more nervous dogs.
Your dog needs to learn when it's ok to jump, and when it's not. You want them to be able to express themselves, but excessive or inappropriate jumping can be unnerving, and even dangerous. It suggests that the dog doesn't understand its boundaries, and these need to be re-established. Just focus on reward-based training, stay consistent, and you'll soon see the right kind of changes in your dog.