The number one problem people contact me about is how to stop their dog from jumping up on people. While your pet may have good intentions and is just overly excited when meeting people, injuries often occur when dogs jump up on people. They can easily knock over and injure the elderly or young children, their nails can scratch people, and they can tear or dirty people's clothes. If you went to pet someone's dog, you would not want something like this to happen to you, so make sure your dog does not do this to other people or you.
Training Tips to Stop Jumping
The primary reason dogs jump is for attention. The act of jumping is self-rewarding to the dog – jumping is just plain fun! If they jump up once and they get attention, they will continue to do it again and again. Either pushing the dog away or yelling "off" commands at them is effective for stopping this behavior. The dog still considers this reward attention for jumping. However, if the dog is ignored every time they jump up, the behavior will extinguish itself. The key to stopping this behavior is your consistency.
1. Ignore All Jumping – Start first with family members. Since the dog is jumping for attention, all attention needs to go away when jumping occurs. When jumping occurs do NOT speak to the dog or make flailing hand gestures. Avoid eye contact, cross your arms and turn sideways to the dog, but still watch him out the corner of your eye. If necessary, take one step back to get some distance away from the dog and just wait until the dog sets . Do not tell the dog to sit, you want the dog to figure this out by himself. The dog may decide to walk away, and if he does that is fine since he stopped jumping. If he walks away just ignore the dog and resume what you were previously doing.
2. Tethering – Tethering is very helpful to use when working on jumping and greeting problems. If you have a larger dog make sure that you tie the leash to something sturdy. I have 60-70 lb dogs and they could easily pull the couch or break a doorknob. I will usually tether them to a fence post in my yard or to the leg of my cast iron stove, something I know they can not move when I work on this exercise.
Once the dog is tethered, approach from a distance of about 20 feet. It is perfectly fine if the dog is standing when you start this exercise. If the dog makes any move to jump, lunge, fidget, bark or whine, immediately stop and turn sideways to them ; remember no speaking to the dog. Once they are quiet and still you can continue your approach. Once you are within touching distance (one arms length), stop and stand facing them and if they are not already sitting, wait for them to sit – do not tell the dog to sit. If they start jumping or making any noise, walk away and start over again. Once you are able to approach the dog and they sit quietly, say "YES" and give them a few treasures. Be calm and speak softly when praising them and giving them their treat. You do not want to undo all your positive work by getting them all excited. The dog needs to remain sitting while taking their treat. If they should get up, stop giving the treat (close your hand or put your hand with the treat behind your back) wait until they are sitting. If they start jumping, walk away and start all over again.
Once your training session is complete release the dog calmly from the tether. Some dog may want to jump upon being released, be prepared. If they try to jump just stand still and turn away as previously explained in the "Ignore All Jumping" section. Work this exercise with all family members as well as with some friends if possible.
Petting – Once the dog will quietly let you approach and give them a treat without any whining or jumping, now is the time to attempt petting them. Same rules apply, no jumping, whining and no paws. Many dogs want to put their front paws on you when you go to pet them, do not allow this either because before you know it they will be climbing up on you. The dog must remain sitting and quiet while being petted. If not, stop and walk away and wait for them to be sitting quietly before you resume. Once you can successfully pet the dog, say "YES" and give them some treasures.
Do not work on these Jumping & Petting tethered exercises for more than 5-10 minutes. It is better to do short but frequent training sessions. When I am first starting I will try to work on this exercise 3 times a day for 5-10 minutes each time.
3. Friends – Once the dog is able to sit quietly for a greeting from family members, it is time to try it with friends and eventually the general public. Start with dog friendly friends first. Invite them over to your house or take fido to their house. In this situation your dog will not be tethered to an immovable object, now it is your responsibility to hold him and not allow him to jump. Explain the rules to your friend in advance, they are the same rules outlined in the "Tethering" section. Try this with as many friends as possible until your see your dog exhibit the understanding that sitting quietly gets them treats and pets and all other behaviors get them nothing. Once you feel your dog understand this, it is time to take it to the public. Go to places like parks or pet stores, people are always asking to pet dogs.
Until your dog is fully trained and has generalized this behavior in all settings you need to ensure that you do not allow your dog to continue jumping on people. If someone unexpected drops by either tether the dog or put them away in a room or their crate before you answer the door. The more jumping accidents you are unable to avoid, the longer it is going to take to train this. If you are consistent and practice you will make fast progress in correcting this bad behavior.