Why Your Dog Is Jumping Up (And How to Fix it)
Welcome to our latest free dog training blog post! This month we are covering the main triggers of jumping up in dogs and what you can do to resolve it for good.
As responsible dog owners, it’s our job to make sure our dogs can mingle and enjoy their lives in all environments without getting into hot water. Jumping up can be one of those niggly behaviours that tips the scale from friendly to hazardous.
Jumping up is one of the main reasons we see dogs in the training room. Unsolicited contact from a dog can make or break their freedom and safety in public. There are many variables to jumping up – including but not limited to the dog’s size, the the vulnerability of the individual who require the dog to keep all four paws planted firmly on the ground.
Knowing our dogs can say hello without getting too close is a wonderful thing and always turns heads – “oh my, what a good dog you have!” By the same token, a dog that jumps up and refuses to listen is embarrassing. We’ve all been there.
Let’s look at the main causes of dogs jumping up and how we can resolve it.
Why Your Dog Is Jumping Up
Excitement and jumping up
Mostly jumping up is caused by two things. 1. The dog’s human family failing to provide clear physical boundaries resulting in confusion and 2. Excitement (which makes the dog brain move forwards). The majority of owners struggle here due to an inability to assess the situation. That is where a dog trainer
comes in handy.
If you’re serious about defeating or preventing jumping up, you need to really analyse at your actions as an owner. This is where it gets real.
Impulse control and boundaries
Here are some common themes we see with dogs who also struggle with jumping up.
Jumping on your lap without an invitation.
Pulling on the lead to extremes.
Inability to listen around distractions.
Nervous or insecure persoanality.
Giving “paw” without being asked.
Bulldozing your legs to get past.
Barrelling out of the door for walks.
Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, it’s likely that jumping up is only part of a bigger problem with impulse control.
Is anyone at home encouraging the dog to jump up and/or rewarding it? Here’s a common scenario…
A family member comes home from work or school. The dog can hear them before they get to the door. By the time the two meet face to face, there are high-pitched, squeals of joy from both parties at being reunited after a long day.
Cuddles and face-licking ensues. Before long, the jumping is suddenly too much – over the top, relentless and in a flash crosses the line of being “cute” to hazardous. Someone’s leg gets scratched, or a muddy paw print appears on a £900 suit. Game over.
The human goes from cuddling to shouting and just like that, the situation turns sour.
Many of us provide affection at the wrong time. In this scenario, the excitement and petting is working in parallel with the jumping up and over-excitement. The dog thinks that’s want the human wants. The human doesn’t see that they are being inconsistent providing freedom and affection for a poor state of mind.
How bad habits are formed
When we are excited, our dogs sense that energy and join in. High-pitched voices and quick movements are not only inviting but rewarding for the dog. Couple this with cuddles and kisses and the dog has absolutely no idea that jumping up is a problem for us.
Sloppy boundaries of acceptable behaviour doesn’t cut it with dogs. They need black and white rules to set them up for success. Allowing “some jumping” because you like it and getting angry when the dog does it outside of an unspecified window is unfair.
What’s the lesson? Many dogs will take their chances if there is the possibility of a cuddle in it for them and keep on trying.
If you want to rule out jumping up you have to be realistic and firm with yourself.
No jumping means no jumping, full stop.
How do you tell your dog you don’t want them to jump on you, or other people? Is there a specific word or command?
To avoid confusion, your dog needs clear commands that all sound very different. If you are saying “get down” to stop jumping up, but also use “down” to mean “lie down” you might be creating a rod for your own back.
Not only do similar sounding commands not give the dog a clear framework to learn from, it can erode the meaning of other, more established commands. For example if your dog knows “down” means lie down and you shout it to mean “get off me” the dog might learn that they do not need to lie down at all.
When behaviours are not seen through to the end and rewarded, the dog has no incentive or clear learning experience.
How to resolve jumping up
I am willing to bet that you have already trawled the internet for hours in search of free advice to resolve this problem.
Maybe you’re worried your dog is “broken” or won’t be able to learn. Maybe you are afraid of investing time and money in the wrong trainer.
Either way, if you have spent more than 3 hours online and your dog is still jumping up, you probably need a full behavioural analysis with a professional. What are you paid per hour? How much do those wasted hours online equate to? Probably the same amount as hiring someone. Maybe even less!
I can help you do this, with a tried and tested process.
It’s no accident that good dog trainers have wonderfully behaved dogs. Understanding dog psychology and animal training is an attuned skill. Dog trainers love it so much, that we dedicate our lives to it.
Dogs and humans are all different. We have different lives, breed characteristics, family dynamics and more. All of this mixed in with environment, routine, diet, exercise and health etc can impact dog behaviour in big ways.
If you don’t truly know what is causing your dog to “misbehave”, you will never know how to apply dog training to make it work. Knowledge really is power when it comes to dogs.
All of my 1:1 dog training clients will tell you, they had no idea what was impacting their dog until we broke the information down together. Book online today.
Go Back to Basics
Let’s look at what your dog really understands. How much obedience do they have under their belt?
Sit? Stay? Lie Down? None of the above?
The more commands your dog knows the better. Obedience isn’t just about trick training. The more words and actions they can understand, the stronger your relationship can be. Service dogs are trained in the same way. Their skills to support people are tricks broken down into stages and chained together to make emptying the washing machine into a basket look like a miracle – it’s not a miracle, it’s just dog training at it’s best.
Teaching your dog “floor” “back” or “place” for situations where jumping up might occur is really helpful.
For “floor” or “back”, all you need is a few treats in your pocket. Throw the treat away from you to encourage them to walk away and gobble up their treat. As you you do this, say “floor” or your command of choice.
Repeat this every day for 10 minutes in different parts of the house (especially by the front door).
Keep rewarding the space the dog gives you (particularly if they begin to stay at a distance).
Alternatively dog’s can learn “place”. Place is where a dog lies down on a specific bed or matt and settles while we welcome guests or relax for the evening. It is great for creating mental boundaries to help the dog relax on cue. This command takes a more time and practice because it is a bigger ask. Lying down in the face of excitement is a difficult level of concentration.
Silence on entering your home equates to a calmer dog, as do proper rewards on cue and the right tools to help you. No talking, touching or eye contact until the dog is calm can really help mellow their reaction. In turn you are more likely to get the outcome you want.
When you do speak, remember to use your floor command and have treats handy on a mason jar in the hallway. Keep all other conversation to a minimum.
Ego vs love
Ignoring our dogs on returning home is often a big blow to our egos. Most of us enjoy the fact our dogs look happy to see us. It feels good to be loved and appreciated. In this instance you have two choices. Carry on as you are and tolerate jumping up and the hyper-arousal that can put a person or your dog’s safety at risk… or you can leave your ego at the door and try something new.
Our dogs can be happy to see us and calm. Delaying our greeting is not going to upset them. Excitement is not a measure of the intensity or depth of love our dogs have for us. That’s our humanisation and interpretation of their behaviour talking.
A dog that is so excited they can’t think or listen is a dog that is also bordering on neurotic habits which in turn can spread to other areas of their lives. This is where behavioural issues creep in and owners find themselves totally flummoxed.
The 100s of wonderful dog owners who have been in my 1:1 training room will understand these escalations all too well. It is amazing how little habits can develop over time and look almost exactly like a happy dog who “just can’t listen very well.”
Either way, you will need to change your habits to see a difference in your dog’s jumping up. But it is so worth it in the long run.
Why “turning your back” fails
To resolve jumping up you will need to look at your routine, handling skills and tools. That pesky jumping up will not go away purely with “ignoring” the behaviour, turning your back or voice commands alone. You will need back-up.
This back-up comes in the form of your physical and verbal communication, tools and motivation to support the message you send to your dog. You must reward the dog for presenting the correct behaviour and provide a block or correction of some kind to restrict the unwanted behaviour. The easiest tool to support regaining control of the environment is a lead.
Two steps forward
Most of us will back away from a dog that jumps at us. We don’t want to tread on their tiny feet, we don’t want our clothes to get dirty, we instinctively give them space to avoid the sudden invasion out of respect. It can also feel uncomfortable to have a dog in your face.
Humans backing up teaches the dog that 1. we have no personal boundaries and 2. we will become avoidant to their advances. Dogs are not stupid. They learn (as all animals do) to manipulate their environment for the most comfortable or enjoyable outcome. Part of this is seeing what sticks in the family dynamic. You might be thinking about how one family member gets no hassle at all, while another is regularly harassed by the same dog. It all comes down to which boundaries are set, when they are set, and how.
Instead of backing away, take two big steps into the jump until the dog has to gently flop to one side of you. Don’t use your hands. Cross your arms. Block the advances with two big confident steps. Couple this with “back” or “floor” and immediately reward the dog for backing off.
Tools for jumping up
Part of a good toolkit is quality equipment, however a carpenter with a chisel can only do so much without a teacher. Our online platform is a judgement-free and friendly space to gather the information you need to get the job done from home. Doesn’t matter if you’re local to us or the other side of the world.
My dog is still jumping up!
If you feel like you have tried everything, it’s time to book a professional help you. The honest truth is you are probably not carrying out the techniques correctly.
Often dog owners get into poor handling habits of their own that cloud the process. Being able tot take a step back and watch a qualified trainer do it before your eyes, with your dog is usually the key to success.
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