How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping

You and your dog are at a crossroads. You love him, it’s not that. But your dog’s passion for jumping…not so much.  

You’re wondering if there is a way to nix the jumping without crushing your dog’s spirit? 

The answer is.yes—a Million times yes!  Your dog—any dog—every dog, can learn:

a) to show you he loves you without the muddy paw prints on the shoulder or pant leg routine.

b) to ask for something without waiting until your back is turned to steal it.

c) to jump up on cue, or that's it's okay to lounge on one piece of furniture but not another.  

Dogs are like kids: parents know they don’t have to dodge baseballs or live with crayons on the wall, or legs dangling from chandeliers. Children need to be civilized, and your dog needs to be civilized too.

If teaching your dog has felt cruel, or just seems like a drag, I’ll make it more fun for both of you.   Give me three days—just three days, during which you ignore all the online gurus and well-meaning friends and neighbors, and sink your teeth into this modern, no-drama, approach.  

It’s less that I’m right and everyone else is wrong, but that modern methods based on compassion and redirection are right while the techniques based on fear and dominance are wrong. The following approach relates our common sense to the new science of modern dog training. It makes training easier than ever before, and more fun too.

Like dog, Like Child

Dogs, like children, are capable of thought, reasoning, and loving attachments. Both toddlers and puppies are inhibited and show affection to affirm their attachments. A child will hug their grown-ups and lift their arms for holding; puppies instinctively offer chin-licks and are often happiest nestled up close.  

So, jumping is natural- like kids looking for cuddles. The frustration is often delayed to months later when the jumping doesn’t fade and has become a habit. The problem, with correcting a dog or puppy who jumps, is that corrections are often misinterpreted as rough play, which reinforces the habit and often spurs it on.  

Below you’ll find a clear outline to help you deal with greeting and attention jumping. In later articles, I will address counter cruising and furniture fanatics. If this article leaves you longing for a personal coach, get help. Dogs consume our every day; having a great relationship with yours just requires time and the right approach. I'd be happy to help you either in person or through remote training, or find a trainer nearby if you're beyond my territory! 

Let’s Begin

To redirect a jumping habit, teach your dog what you’d like him to do instead. While a Sit-Stay sounds appropriate, it would be like expecting a six-year-old to curtsey every time someone walked through the front door.  

Before we address your dog’s jumping habits, list all the other ways your dog expresses joy.  

Here’s my list, compiled from my30+ years passion-teaching dogs and training people.  Feel free to email me anything I’ve missed, and I’ll add it to the list!


Fun time activities!                    Word Cue

Racing in a circle                        Crazy dog!

Shaking a Toy                             Get it!

Playing Tug                                 Tug!

Chewing a stick or bone            Get your bone!

Fetching a Toy                            Get your toy!

Soccer                                         Get your ball!

Rolling over or belly up              Roll or Belly Up!

Dancing on two legs                   Dance

Spinning in a circle                      Spin

In the left column, I’ve listed fun time activities-circle the ones your dog enjoys.  In the right column are words your dog can learn to identify with these games.

Did you know that dogs can handle hundreds of words?  No pressure, but the more words dogs learn, the better they listen. A 20-30 word vocabulary is a good goal. 

Your dog will learn words like a foreigner learns English, as a Second Language.  Say words as you point to objects or do things, and your dog will quickly associate the word with the activity.

Meanwhile, set your house up for success! If your dog likes a particular toy, tug or bone place a few in toy baskets in strategic spots, e.g. by the door or in the yard, for easy access.

Consider The Best Alternative

Whether your dog leaps on you when you come home, visitors approach or simply for attention, consider another alternative—one your dog’s already doing-- and teach him/her a word for it. 

AT THE END OF MY LEASH - I have three dogs, and each does a different greeting routine. When Boozle hears “spin” he emits a funny howl and spins in a circle; when Tally ho hears “Toy” he grabs his favorite; when Hootenanny hears “Belly up”, she flings onto her back for a belly rub.

If you haven’t already, circle or highlight the activities your dog loves, teach him or her words for each one, then practice those moves throughout the day and in lots of different locations.  

Here are some final tips and few ways to curb the jumping if your dog can’t focus on anything else!

1)    Remember to place toy baskets at strategic locations such as by the door, near an enclosure, and in free spaces like the kitchen or yard.  

2)    Teach your dog to go his basket whenever he looks bored; if he/she goes independently reward him/her with treats and attention.    

3)    Encourage activities like belly up, fetch or trick moves (think dance and spin) anywhere, anytime and especially before you pet, feed, or play with your dog.

4)    Play and practice your moves in various locations both inside your home and out.  If treats spur cooperation, use them!  Once the new activity is a habit, your dog will do it as automatically as he/she is jumping now!

5)    If your dog jumps whenever he hears noises at the door, or whenever you’re on the computer or the phone, rig the situation.  You can record your doorbell—ring it ten times at 5-second intervals—then play that recording on low volume and in various rooms as you practice and play.  

Cause and Effect

Dogs, like children, learn to do whatever gets attention.  Want to stop your dog’s jumping in its tracks?  Stop paying any attention to your dog or better do the opposite of what he’s hoping. 

•    Look up, not down. 

•    Cover your face with a magazine or pillow: a technique I call the Peekaboo Solution

•    Walk out of the room.  

•    Spray your waist or thighs with vinegar, depending on your dog’s size.  Buy several small travel size sprayers and place them around the house for quick access.  Just before you perfume your body indiscreetly, say "shhh."  Never spray or shout at your dog; that’s mean and will only teach your beloved dog to fear you.

•    If your jumper is still accosting the kids or company, let him drag a long line or drag lead and step on it whenever he’s too excitable.  Ask everyone to stand just out of reach until your dog calms down enough to breathe.

Whatever you do and however you do it, do not pay any attention to a dog who is jumping.  It may take a week or two to convince your dog the games changed, but you can do it

What Works for Kids, Works for Dogs too

If you remember one thing from this article, it’s this: tell your dog what to do, not what not to do. Dogs jump when they’re feeling happy or overstimulated.  Any reaction will excite them more.  Stay calm, direct your dog to other fun activities, tricks or games and bone up on the Peek-a-boo Solution.

After all, life is an adventure. Call your dog and c’mon lets play!


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