Updated: Apr 17
It can be frustrating when your pup jumps all over grandma, or nearly knocks over a stranger on the street. So how do we get our pups to stop jumping on people?!?! (If you're in Austin, check out our Polite Greetings Class!)
First, let's think about WHY they're jumping.
It's fun! Jumping up is a normal part of puppy/dog behavior, and part of how they often play with others.
It's been learned over time. Every time your pup jumped on someone, they got attention and pets! So of course, they're going to keep doing it. In some cases, they might even jump to get other attention- saying no, pushing them away, etc. Even that kind of attention can still be attention!! Learn more about impulse control in dogs.
Sometimes jumping can be a sign of stress or over-excitement. If your dog falls into this category, it's a good idea to book a private training.
Management is our friend.
If we want the jumping to stop, we CAN'T let them keep practicing it!
In situations where our puppy might want to jump up, keep them on leash or behind a baby gate where they can't practice the jumping.
Try to catch them before the jumping starts, with things like giving treats/pets low to the ground, scattering treats, or asking for another behavior before the jumping begins.
What do we want them to do INSTEAD?
What do you want your dog to do when greeting people? Do you want them to sit, just keep all four paws on the ground, lay down, something else?
Practice that behavior a LOT so it becomes a "default" for your puppy.
Setting up training opportunities
Ok, you've worked on the behavior you want, and have managed unwanted jumping. Now what?
Pick a human who WILL FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS!! This part is key. If your friend says "oh it's ok, I don't mind if they jump" or will shout at your puppy to get down if they do jump, this person is not going to help with your initial training!
Start with your puppy on leash, and the human approaching. You're going to play "red light, green light!"
If your puppy offers the behavior you like, like four paws on the ground, the human can approach and offer treats or pets!
If your puppy starts to jump up, the person takes a step back (out of leash range, where the puppy can't successfully jump on them).
NOTES: you want to make this as fun (and not stressful!) as possible for your puppy. You can cue them to do their behavior like a sit, and focus on the human giving treats versus attention if attention is too exciting.
Once your puppy is rocking this, add more humans! This way they learn "oh, this game applies to ALL humans, not just the one I practiced with!" Basic Manners classes can be a great way to work on this, too. You'll have instructors available, and other class participants!
You can practice this off leash, too. You may just need to have the person turn away slightly and wait (versus taking a step out of leash range).
The dreaded Jump Sit Treat Chain
Your puppy has learned that if they jump up, then sit politely, they'll get a treat! Yikes! We've created a "behavior chain" that we don't want. How to break that chain?
Go back to management and catching your pup BEFORE they jump!
Work on those "default behaviors"- polite behaviors you reward a lot. So when your puppy thinks "I want attention," they choose to offer one of those behaviors instead of jumping.
IF you have already missed the management and your puppy jumps (then sits), wait a few seconds before rewarding. We want your puppy to know that they're getting that treat for sitting politely, not for sitting after jumping. Usually a few seconds is enough to break that association!
But if you're getting to that point frequently, go back to steps 1 and 2 and work on them consistently! Once your puppy isn't jumping often (because they don't have the chance), they're less likely to try it in the future!