Your Jump is Not My Joy!

How do I get a Dog to Stop Jumping?

Your dog jumps for joy – but you’re not having fun.  Jumping can drive dog owners (and their guests) crazy.  People get scratched, sweaters get pulled, and kids get knocked over.  Even the little breeds can ruin a nice pair of pants after a mud run in the yard.

Training this kind of jumping is fun! But dogs jumping ON people can get old, fast.

Dog trainers are called in to “fix” jumping all the time.  So, what do we do?

First, start with management. In dog trainer terms, management means to set up the situation so the dog can’t fail.

In the case of jumping, management ideas include:

  • Hold the dog back on leash
  • Put the dog in a crate for a few minutes
  • Put the dog behind a gate for a few minutes

These techniques don’t train the dog not to jump. But, they stop it now, and they keep the bad behavior pattern from growing stronger through repetition.

Once management is in place, let’s look at two basic training options.  Before we get into this, it must be said that you should always apply your own common sense to training instructions.  Think about your situation with your individual dog or clients and tailor the ideas found here accordingly.  Never hurt the dog or yourself!  Whenever you’re unsure, get a pro trainer on board.

Training, Part 1

The first technique to re-train jumping is a proactive and powerful form of ignoring it:  body block the dog.  This means you step forward, firmly but carefully, into the dog’s space.  You can do this as the dog jumps or just before.  Most dogs will back up.  Dogs “get it” quickly with body blocks because now you are speaking their natural language – body language.  Without you saying a word, when you move forward your dog will sense you saying, “This is my space, back out of it”.

Do NOT use your hands when body blocking – fold your arms and step forward.  Make contact with your legs and body only.  Using your hands will be seen as a form of play (think of dogs paw thwacking one another playfully).

Training, Part 2

Once you have shown the dog that jumping results in body blocks, not attention, you can work on training a new behavior that a dog can’t do at the same time as jumping.  This technique takes some work, but it is extremely effective.  Asking a dog to do nothing is next to impossible, but teaching them something else to do works great.  “Spin” is a great behavior, since it is active and uses up that aroused energy, rather than trying to get the dog to calm down.  Fetching a toy or going to place are great options, too.

A common mistake is to teach Sit instead of jumping.  Sit is usually not a good choice, because most dogs will sit for one second and then spring back into jumping!  Whatever new behavior you choose, work to get it on command during quiet times before you practice with guests arriving.  Keep your leash handy for back-up management.  Some dogs may need quite a bit of practice before they stop jumping for joy!

Learn More Pro Training Skills!

8 Responses to Your Jump is Not My Joy!

  1. cwicknick says:

    so, lifting your knee up into the dogs chest probably wouldnt be a good practice to stop the dog from jumping. i think that , because that coould hurt the dog. this is something i was taught to do a long time ago, but after reading this- not a choice i would choose

    • Josh Davis says:

      Bringing your knee up can be a form of body block
      but you want to be careful not to drive your knee into the dog
      but to occupy the space they are about to jump into.
      Also remember to stay calm when giving physical corrections
      its not about revenge or anger or “I’ll show you!” Attitude.

  2. Protective contact (behind a gate) is the preferred method for marine mammal trainers when teaching a behavior, before they get to the management or maintaining another behavior. Works like a charm. I see you’re using P+ stepping into the dogs space (McConnell) to interrupt and or punish jumping. I would advise to do the opposite and step back one inch, reinforce 4 on the floor in rapid fire succession to get control. People can get hurt while moving into the dog, which is not an alternative behavior and I’ve seen dogs flip over backwards, which can be harmful. That movement is a reaction to a known on going jumping behavior and may not teach what you would like the dog to do. I would like to add that all dogs that jump are happy ones. They can be stressed, with stiff legs into your chest with a variety of forms of communication. Stress, you’ll notice this at the vet’s office, change in environment, people, places and things. Jumping was the number one offense in the dog classes of the 80s and the 90s with corrections, but with a keen understanding of canine body language -jumping was a form of stress, and was punished for it. A spin is a choice for the more fit canines among us, which are far and few between. (Clothier)
    Anyway, thanks for listening.

  3. Susana Poppe says:

    The article mentions having a dog do a spin. I am not sure what this is or how to teacher it. Also, Mareen Schooley says to step back 1 inch and reinforce 4 on the floor in rapid succession. What does this mean?

    • David Muriello says:

      Good question. A spin is the motion a dog makes when she chases her tail. It’s a good alternate behavior because a lot of dogs learn it very quickly and enjoy doing it when they are excited. I believe Schooley means to reward the dog every time you see all 4 paws on the floor (no hint of jumping), that’s what 4 on the floor means to us and we use the term all the time.

  4. Susana Poppe says:

    Thank you.

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