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How to stop a dog jumping up on you

Brown dog jumping advice © Pixabay

Why do dogs jump up on you? Are they just happy to see you? Or are they trying to tell you something else? Is it dangerous? How do I stop a dog jumping up? Let’s find out!

By Ashley Murphy

Why do dogs jump up on you?

Jumping up is a natural instinct in young dogs. Jumping up is a way of saying hello, showing affection, and asking 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 part of puppy play. Playing is very important for puppies. Its a way of making friends. They're also learning how to operate in groups, and how to use their bodies. Puppy play often involves play fighting. Puppies will jostle for a dominant top position by jumping up at each other.

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 the dog is really big.

Dogs 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. Its a sign of dominance. The dog is trying to assert themselves on the “new” person. This is concerning and potentially dangerous behaviour. It really must be discouraged.

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 to make sure they're getting enough exercise. And try not to leave them alone for too long. Some dogs are quite independent, but they all need company and a feeling of belonging. If this is absent, the dog is likely to start misbehaving.

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 from work. 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. Your dog is getting want they want from jumping up, so why would they stop?

Stay strong and ignore your dog until they've calmed down. Once they're settled, wait a few more moments, then give them the affection or treats they deserve. Repetition and consistency are really important. Stick with it, and your dog will soon understand what you want.

You also need to stop them from jumping up on strangers. Take a practical approach. If you're expecting visitors, keep your dog on a leash, or keep them away from the "stranger" until they've calmed down. Distracting your dog is another good idea. When “strangers” arrive, divert your dog's attention with food and toys. Do this enough times, and they'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 nervy 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.