Most dogs like jumping on people because that is what they do when they interact and play with other dogs. My Siberian Husky likes to jump because she likes to lick at people’s faces and for her special friends, nibble at their chin.
However, many people consider jumping to be rude dog behavior. Jumping can also be dangerous if the dog is large, because he can easily knock down and hurt a child or a senior adult.
Interestingly though, dog jumping behavior has much more to do with us than with our dogs.
Why Do Dogs Jump on People?
Dogs jump on people because they usually get rewarded for their jumping behavior.
When a dog jumps, our first reaction is to use our hands to push the dog away. Sometimes, we also shout at the dog and make a lot of noise. All this sound and rapid hand movement only gets the dog even more excited. From the dog’s point of view, we are initiating a fun wrestling game!
In this way dogs learn that –
Jumping = Fun wrestling game and
No-jumping = Taps on the head or being ignored.
This encourages dogs to jump even more because we are rewarding their jumping behavior and ignoring them when they are not jumping.
Rapid hand movement and excited sounds can also trigger a dog’s prey drive. That is why while we are at a dog park, it is dangerous to run or move about in an erratic fashion. Doing so will likely get a pack of dogs on our tail.
How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on People
To stop our dog from jumping on people, we must first change what people do when dogs jump.
When a dog jumps, I calmly turn away from him and fold up my arms. This teaches the dog that when he jumps, he only gets ignored and doesn’t get any attention at all (no-talk, no-touch, and no-eye-contact).
No eye contact is especially important because that can be seen as an attention-reward by our dog. It may also be interpreted as an invitation to come over and play.
This rule is the hardest for people to follow because it is difficult not to look at a cute dog when he is trying his hardest to get our attention.
Why Can’t I Get My Dog to Stop Jumping?
In order to get our dog to stop jumping on people, we must get everyone that our dog meets to consistently ignore him when he jumps. This can often be difficult to achieve.
What ends up happening is that some people follow the instructions, some people only partially follow the instructions, and some people don’t listen at all.
As a result, our dog gets rewarded sometimes for jumping. This teaches our dog the following –
Some types of jumping = Fun wrestling game.
Rather than deterring him from his jumping behavior, this only teaches him to try jumping on everyone, and to try different types of jumping, because you never know which one will trigger the fun wrestling game.
The jumping dog behavior is actually more of a people issue rather than a dog issue.
Another possibility is to use a collar and leash to lead our dog away.
We do not have too much control over what others do while meeting our dog. However, if we have our dog on a leash, we can simply lead him away every time he jumps.
When my Shiba Inu jumps, I no-mark the behavior to let him know that it is undesirable. Then I lead him a short distance away, and get him to do a Sit. When he is calm, we try the greeting again. In this way, he learns that –
Jumping = Move away from people and greeting stops, but
Feet on the ground = Greeting continues with attention, affection, and play.
Using Collar Corrections to Stop Dog Jumping
Some people suggest using collar corrections to stop dog jumping.
For example, we can apply an aversive correction (e.g. a leash jerk) whenever our dog jumps. In this way, the dog may be getting rewarded by the person he meets, but at the same time he is getting a pain stimulus from us. To stop the jumping behavior we must ensure that our pain stimulus trumps the wrestling game reward given by others.
Collar corrections can work, but it is also risky. As with all pain based aversive methods, timing and technique are extremely important. We must correct at exactly the right time, and in exactly the right manner. Then, we must properly redirect the pain so that our dog does not make the wrong associations.
If we make mistakes, the dog may develop even more dangerous greeting behavior.
- A dog may learn that when he tries to play with a person, he gets hurt on the neck. This teaches the dog not to play with people, or worse, to see people as a threat that needs to be kept away. This may ultimately result in dog aggression towards people.
- A dog may learn that it is only safe to wrestle when we are not around. This encourages him to escape or stay away from us, because we are the source of pain and other unpleasant things.
What is the Best Thing to Do to Stop Dog Jumping?
So what is the best thing to do to stop dog jumping?
As described above, there is no perfect solution. The best solution will depend on us, our dog’s temperament, as well as what we want from and for our dog.
Some people want perfect control of their dog and feel that nothing, short of perfect domination, is the answer. In this case, pain is often a strong motivator, and collar corrections give us good short term control.
Some people have put in a lot of effort to train their dog not to jump, and do not want the dog learning bad habits from others. In this case, we can just leave and not let our dog meet people who cannot follow our dog greeting instructions.
Finally there are people who let their dogs jump. However, it is necessary to properly manage the dog so that he does not jump on children or seniors. Jumping dogs require a bit more management and vigilance from their owners, however, they also get to have a lot of fun.