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Jumping Up on People
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM
Behavior and Training
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Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies
spaniel jumping up on personDogs often jump up on people. They stand on their rear legs with their front paws on the person. This is normal behavior for a young dog. Puppies of wild canids do it all the time. They jump up on each other or their parents. Puppies of our domestic dogs do the same. Jumping up serves both as play and to teach them how to act as a predator or how to challenge other pack members in the dominance hierarchy. In some homes, puppies are encouraged to jump up on their owners. Obviously, this is a mistake. While it may be seen as cute or as a sign of affection while the puppy is small, it can be terrifying when done by a 100-pound Rottweiler.

Numerous owners complain about their dogs doing this. They shout "No" or "No, get down" or any of a wide range of phrases that make perfect sense to them but that are not understood by the dog. They scream and punish the animals but little seems to help. Some of the peoples actions may excite the dog even more, and when this occurs, nothing is learned.

In all honesty, this behavior can be eliminated completely in a week or less, and as usual, we do not think you need to say anything. You need to communicate to the pet that this is not acceptable behavior and should not be done, but do not waste words or try to make up new phrases to correct it.

Body block

Kneeing dog away from jumping on youAs the animal starts to jump up on you, turn sideways and either extend your leg and step into th edog's space or lean over and with your hip give a body block so that the dog never even gets her paws on you. You see, once she has her front paws on you, she already has what she wanted (she won and you lost).

When the dog has all four feet on the floor, tell the dog to "sit" and then immediately squat down and give her attention. She will soon learn that by sitting quietly with all four feet on the floor she will get what she wants.

Too late

What if the dog surprised you and got her feet on you before you had a chance to block her. Do NOT push her away with your hands. Many dogs think that is play. Instead, swivel and walk away, not giving the dog any attention. Say nothing. Do not waste "No" on this kind of behavior. Again, when the dog has all feet on the floor, have the dog sit and then reward the dog.

Teach the right response

To prevent jumping up, it's best to teach an alternative behavior - what do you want the dog to do when greeting people? Some owners teach their dog's to sit whenever they hear the doorbell. Others teach the dog to go and get a toy instead of jumping up on visitors. Be sure to provide positive reinforcement whenever the dog does the right thing.

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