‘Help! How do I stop my puppy from jumping up?’…. a question many puppy owners would like the answer to. Your puppy may be jumping up on you, on other people or both. Luckily for you we’re here to help you understand a little about why our dogs jump up and how to prevent it. In this article we’ll cover:
- Reasons why your puppy may be jumping up
- Why you should stop your puppy from jumping up
- Teaching your pup not to jump up in 3 easy steps
- How to prevent jumping up
- Common pitfalls with puppy jumping up and how to address them
Don’t worry, jumping up can be solved, and won’t be a lifelong problem, have a read through as we think we’ve covered all there is to know about jumpy pups!
Why do puppies jump up?
Puppies just love attention and will work hard to get it, they jump up to say hello, as a greeting behaviour – our hands and faces are super important for giving a puppy attention, they are also a lot higher than your puppy, so pups jump up to get nearer to the source of all that lovely fuss.
Excitement means arousal, most puppies just simply can’t help themselves and jump up to say ‘Hello’. Imagine how excited they are when you walk through the door, your puppy will likely throw themself at you in a blur of jumpy excitement… no they don’t care that you’re wearing new trousers or they laddered your tights.
Your puppy is anxious or needs reassurance
Have you ever noticed your puppy jump up at you for apparently no reason whatsoever? If your puppy is startled, scared or anxious about something, they may jump up for reassurance, to let you know they’re not happy. The physical contact from jumping up helps them to feel better.
This kind of jumping up can often be seen with other types of climbing behaviour and anxious body language such as wide eyes, tail tucked under, a scrunched up body, or their ears pinned back.
It’s an appeasement behaviour
A puppy jumping up is often a ‘dont hurt me, I’m only small’ appeasement behaviour, also called an appeasement gesture or signal. People who push puppies off when they do this will likely see an increase in the jumping up as the puppy does it more to really push the point home, that they’re frightened, or are no threat to you.
Because it’s normal – when seeing other dogs.
You will notice puppies do this often when they meet other dogs, they are so thrilled at seeing a new friend, they just can’t help themselves. Some dogs will tolerate it and are happy, but some won’t and might tell your puppy off or become aggressive.
Why is it important to teach your puppy to stop jumping up?
Teaching your puppy not to jump up, is not only good for your puppy, it’s also good for you and others around you. It may be cute when they barely reach your knees but it’s less cute when they reach 30kg and knock Granny off her feet!
Here are just a few reasons why it’s not good to let your puppy jump up:
- Their nails can scratch, and over exuberance can cause bruising
- Larger puppies can hurt or knock you or someone else over – this can cause serious injuries in older more frail people, or in small children
- Small puppies can be a trip hazard
- Muddy paw prints are un-welcome on most people
- It’s scary to have a dog bound over and jump up at you
- It’s not good for your puppy’s joints to be jumping up
Teaching your puppy not to jump up is important, not just for your pup but for other people’s safety. On a serious note, in countries such as the UK the Dangerous Dogs Act (no it doesn’t just apply to larger breeds) could be breached if your dog is out of control in a public or private place, it’s a serious thing and can land you and your puppy in trouble if a complaint about their behaviour is made.
How to stop puppy jumping up in 3 easy steps
Teaching your puppy to not jump up can be done in 3 steps
The first step in getting your puppy not to jump up on people is preventing it happening in the first place – this can be done in a couple of ways
Managing the environment at home
When visitors come to the house, your puppy will likely be excited to see them, and as jumping up is a natural canine greeting behaviour, will probably want to jump up ‘to say hi’.
Instead of allowing them to do this you can
- Pop your puppy in another room or behind a baby gate and only bring them out to say hello to visitors when they have calmed down
- Have your puppy on a lead so they don’t get close enough to the visitor to jump up
- Use their crate or play pen when visitors come over
Managing your puppy when out and about
Is your puppy jumping up at strangers in the park? Do they give your puppy attention when they do this? Sounds about right.
To prevent this happening do the following
- Keep them on the lead – sounds so simple, but it’s the most effective way to stop jumping up in public, if you’re too close to people and your puppy can get that much wanted physical contact, then you’re not preventing it happening!
Management and prevention are the easiest ways to prevent jumping up occuring in the first place, you’re the one in control and the more you prevent the jumping up happening, the less your puppy can practice it – what they practice they get good at, good stuff AND bad stuff!
- Teach your puppy what they should do instead of jumping up
So let’s think about ‘what behaviour would I like to see from my puppy INSTEAD of them jumping’?
This behaviour should be what we call an incompatible behaviour i.e when your puppy is doing this thing they can’t do the other jumping up thing.
Examples of this would be:
- Having four paws on the floor
- Sitting (Sit to greet and say hello – sounds wonderful right?)
- Go to your bed or mat
- Go grab a toy
- Do a hand target
So now you have to train it – you’ll find examples of how to train these behaviours in the Zigzag puppy training app, you’ll need treats and some patience in teaching your puppy how to do this, as well as time to practice, many, many times, ‘til they have it down pat.
After your puppy has learnt these behaviours you transfer onto getting them to do them for that most loved thing for puppies – attention.
You’ll need to practice these exercises in lots of situations and environments so that your puppy learns to generalise, so that it becomes a default behaviour for them getting attention from someone.
Here’s an easy exercise to start you off
Keeping four paws on the floor (not jumping up)
How to do it
- Dogs jump up to get our attention. When your puppy goes to jump up on you, don’t give them any attention or interact with them in any way. Simply move away or turn your body – you want four paws on the floor not two in the air!
- As soon as your puppy has four paws on the floor, give them that longed for attention…let’s not keep them feeling so desperate for your love.
- Tell them what a clever dog they are, and then give them a treat.
- Repeat this every time you greet your puppy or any time they jump up at you to make their paws stick to the floor more often.
- Let’s prevent jumping up by asking your puppy to sit when you know it’s likely they’ll jump up. Do it just before, just like you’re beating them to the jump.
- Don’t get cross or punish them if your puppy jumps up, they’re just trying to show us that they love us! It’s kind of lovely they like to do that to be honest.
- Here’s an important tip. Remember that everyone in your household MUST do this, otherwise it’s confusing for your puppy and they will keep trying to do it!
- What to do if your puppy jumps up
If your puppy has history here and jumping up has become a bit of a bad habit, you’ll want to know what to do to fix it!
Don’t use physical corrections – these are old fashioned methods and can often make the jumping up WORSE not better. Any training method that causes fear, anxiety or pain is not appropriate and is completely unnecessary.
If your puppy jumps up on a stranger or visitor – immediately call them back and get them to do something else, don’t let them carry on even if the well-meaning person says ‘I don’t mind’ (more on that later) the next person likely WILL mind, and can get your puppy into all kinds of trouble.
If the puppy jumps up on you – turn your back and walk off, then give them a chance to get things right, ask for a sit and reward that with loving strokes and attention. It’s also useful to get down a bit lower to the floor, so that jumping up at you is not so tempting for them.
Go back to prevention and management if jumping up is a problem. You can also contact one of the Zigzag Puppy Training Experts who can help you find out where things might be going wrong, and help you reduce your puppy’s jumping up.
What to avoid when training your puppy not to jump up
Don’t tell your puppy off
Shouting, yelling, pushing or kneeing your puppy will not help with jumping up. Remember, your puppy wants your attention, so resorting to these kinds of methods still gives them that attention and some will think it’s a game.
Don’t offer attention/rewards when puppy jumps up
It’s tempting to stroke a tiny puppy when they jump up to paw at your legs, but it’s much better long term if you ignore this behaviour, and reward them with attention and praise when they behave appropriately. Puppies grow up fast, a small puppy very quickly becomes a big loveable dog that you probably won’t want clawing at your legs!
Don’t put your puppy in situations where you know jumping up will occur
Manage the environment and prevent it happening in the first place. This will be key to the jumping up training! Prevention means the behaviour won’t be repeated.
Don’t let others undo your training
Yes, we all have that well-meaning friend who ALWAYS lets your puppy jump on them, be clear that you’re training the puppy not to jump and they mustn’t allow it either. If necessary, keep your puppy on a lead around these people. If your puppy gets what they want SOMETIMES they will keep trying it with other people. Variable reinforcement is a very powerful thing – think about gamblers, that one time the fruit machine pays out and they get that winning rush means they keep on playing and lose more than they’ve ever won – it’s the same with the way dogs learn.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and now understand that jumping up is a normal but largely unwanted behaviour that is easy to prevent and correct.
For more information on reducing jumping up, as well as many other problem behaviours, why not download our puppy training app? You’ll also get access to a team of qualified and experienced Puppy Training Experts, to help you with any of the struggles you have, they’ve heard it all, and will be able to help!
By the way, is your puppy a barker? We have a great article on puppy barking and how to stop it too.