Many dog owners struggle with their pets jumping up on people when greeting them or seeking attention. While it may seem cute when your puppy is small, a full-grown dog jumping on visitors or strangers can be problematic for several reasons:
It can scare or knock over children or elderly people, potentially causing injury. Even a friendly jump can catch someone off guard and make them lose their balance.
Jumping dogs can accidentally scratch people with their paws or claws, leaving marks or even tearing clothes. This understandably upsets people, especially if wearing nice clothes or a uniform.
Some visitors may be allergic to dogs or afraid of them and react negatively to a jumping dog. This can sour what should be a pleasant interaction.
Allowing your dog to jump reinforces the behavior and makes it a habit. The more they practice jumping, the more natural it becomes.
For these reasons, it is best to curb jumping behavior early on and teach your dog to greet politely using their four paws on the floor. The good news is that with proper training and consistency, you can teach even an enthusiastic jumper to greet calmly and politely.
How to Train Your Dog Not to Jump
The key to training a dog not to jump is being consistent and rewarding the right behavior from the start. Here are some tips for training a polite greeting:
Use Positive Reinforcement
When training any behavior, using positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective approach. This means rewarding your dog with treats and praise when they display the desired behavior. For jumping, reward your dog for sitting politely or having all four paws on the floor when meeting people. Give treats right after they choose not to jump. Reward calm behavior and ignore unwanted jumping.
Ask Guests to Help
Let all your visitors know that you are training your dog not to jump. Ask them to help by completely ignoring your dog when he jumps. No eye contact, no touch, and no verbal reaction. When all four paws are on the floor, they can give calm praise and petting as a reward. This consistency is key for your dog to grasp what earns a reward.
Keep Your Dog Leashed
Keep a leash on your excited jumper when you are expecting visitors. Keep them at your side and give the “sit” command when the doorbell rings. This allows you to reinforce that sitting politely earns attention and jumping results in being ignored. Practice this for greetings and when out for walks.
Use Verbal Cues
Pair your positive reinforcement and consistency with clear verbal commands. Use “off” when they jump to indicate this earns no reward. Use “sit” to tell them the polite pose you want. Eventually, they will learn these cue words and respond accordingly when excited to greet.
Some extremely bouncy dogs may take weeks or months to perfect a polite greeting. Be patient and persistent, sticking to your training plan. Avoid yelling, scolding, or kneeing your dog, as this teaches them to fear you. You want jumping to get no reaction at all. With time, even the most enthusiastic dog can learn better manners.
How to Train Your Dog to Sit Politely to Greet
Once you have curbed your dog’s jumping habits through ignoring, it is time to train them to sit politely as their new greeting ritual. Follow these tips:
Use a “Sit” or “Off” Cue
Before visitors approach, give your dog the verbal cue to “sit.” Reward with a treat when they respond. Practice this when seeing people or other dogs when out for walks too. The more consistent you are, the better they will become at sitting automatically in exciting situations.
Ask Guests to Request a Sit
Let visitors know to completely ignore your dog until they sit politely. Then guests can give calm praise and acknowledge the good behavior once sitting. This teaches your dog that calm sits get attention while jumping gets none.
Practice Sit Stays
Take your training to the next level by practicing short sit stays when visitors approach. With your dog sitting in a controlled spot like a mat, have a friend come to the door. If your dog remains sitting for 5-10 seconds before greeting, reward generously. Gradually increase the time they must sit politely before greeting or getting petted.
Use a Leash if Needed
If your dog struggles with staying seated, keep them on a loose leash for greetings. This lets you gently reinforce the sitting position. But avoid physically forcing them into a sit – you want them to choose to sit themselves. Praise when they make the right choice.
Pair with Down Stays
An alternative polite greeting is teaching your dog to go to a mat or bed and lay down on command. Follow the same steps by rewarding down stays when visitors arrive. This keeps their energy even more contained.
With regular practice, your dog will associate sit stays and down stays with getting rewarding attention from guests. They will happily respond to their cue and wait patiently for pets and praise.
Important Tips for Training Success
To fully train your dog to stop jumping when excited and instead offer polite sits or down stays, keep these important tips in mind:
It is much easier to prevent jumping behavior right from the start than correct an established habit later. Begin training as soon as you bring your puppy home not to reward jumping.
Every human member of the household must stick to the same rules and cues. Everyone should ignore jumping and reward four paws on the floor to avoid confusing your dog’s training.
Practice Every Day
Frequent short training sessions every day is more effective than long sessions here and there. Daily practice makes good manners a habit.
Give Plenty of Rewards
Use very high value treats during initial training sessions so your dog is motivated to earn the rewards. Slowly phase out food rewards as they learn sitting becomes its own reward with attention from guests.
Avoid yelling “No!” or kneeing your dog when they jump. Remain calm and simply stand still and ignore. Calmly reward good behavior. This is most effective for dogs to learn.
Some dogs are so excited by guests they may take months to fully grasp training. Stick with it and manage their environment by keeping on leash or putting in another room when first greeting if needed. Remain positive!
With ample practice curbing jumping and training sits and stays instead, you can teach even an eager jumper to become a polite greeter who looks forward to company rather than knocking them over!
Many well-meaning dog owners make some of these common mistakes when trying to train their dogs not to jump on people:
Inconsistency – Not everyone in the family reinforces the same rules or commands with the dog. Mixed messages confuse training.
Verbal scolding – Saying “No jump!” will not curb the behavior. The dog must be ignored completely mid-jump to learn it gets no reward.
Lack of rewards – Treating politely sitting dogs or praising calm behavior is essential. Dogs will not repeat actions that do not result in a “pay off”.
Moving into the dog’s space – If you approach a jumping dog, it is still getting attention. Stand still and ignore until the dog calms and sits.
Letting some people interact while jumping – Allowing some visitors or family members to pet or talk to a jumping dog undermines the training that jumping is ignored.
Inconsistent rules – Letting a dog jump sometimes but not others is confusing. Jumping should always get no reaction. Sitting earns rewards.
Expecting too much too soon – Be patient during training, especially for extremely energetic dogs. Stick to small training sessions to set them up for success.
Avoiding these common mistakes will lead to better training success when teaching your dog to greet politely without jumping!
What Not to Do
There are certain tactics you should avoid when trying to train your dog not to jump:
Do not knee or kick your dog – This can harm your dog and erode the human-animal bond and trust.
Avoid shouting “No!” – Loud verbal corrections are ineffective for most dogs. Calmly ignoring jumping is better.
Do not hold your dog’s paws – Forcing their paws down or holding them can scare your dog and will not teach polite greetings long-term.
Do not use a shock or prong collar – Painful devices may suppress jumping temporarily but have risks and do little to teach proper manners. Positive reinforcement works best.
Do not pet or reward roughhousing – If you sometimes engage in play that gets your dog riled up, they will have a harder time learning calm greetings.
Avoid scolding after jumping – Only ignore mid-jump, then praise once sitting. Scolding after the fact is ineffective.
Do not lure into a sit with treats – Your dog should learn to sit automatically, not because you showed them a treat. Reward after they choose to sit.
Do not overwhelm your dog – If greetings with multiple guests are too exciting, start training with just one person at a time.
The most successful approach is to ignore jumping completely, reward four paws on the floor, use consistent verbal cues, and be very patient with your dog as you teach polite greetings.
How to Regain Control of the Situation
If your dog is jumping repeatedly during a greeting and will not calm down or sit, here are some tips for regaining control:
Have the guest completely turn away and ignore your dog. No eye contact or touch.
Stand on your dog's leash so they cannot jump. Wait calmly until they stop pulling.
Ask the guest to take a few steps back so they are out of the dog's space.
Calmly walk the dog away into another room or crate where they can settle briefly.
Bring out treats and ask your dog to perform basic obedience like "sit" and "down" to redirect their energy.
Practice having the guest approach again and reward your dog for staying seated during the greeting.
Keep greetings very short initially if your dog is highly excitable. Let them greet, get treats, then have the guest leave before they get worked up again.
Use a baby gate to keep an extremely bouncy dog separate during initial greetings until their energy has settled.
Staying positive and using management tools like leashes, separation, and obedience cues can help take control of an overexcited dog so you can continue polite greeting training. Be patient – enthusiastic dogs can require more time and creativity!
How to Prevent Jumping Up When Excited
To prevent your dog from developing a jumping habit in situations where they get revved up, follow these tips:
Baby gates – Use gates to keep dogs separated from action at front doors, play areas, kitchens (when cooking), or other exciting locations.
Leashes – Keep leashes on dogs when guests arrive so you can control the dog and prevent jumping access.
Crates – Crate trained dogs can be kept calmly in their crate with a treat when entry areas get hectic.
Exercise – Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise daily so they are less “pent up” when people arrive. Take them for a brisk walk first.
Toys – Provide appropriate chew toys to distract and occupy dogs in exciting situations. Food puzzle toys can redirect their energy.
Sit/stay cues – Practice having a dog sit/stay in a set spot when people come and go. Reward calmness.
Remove access – If needed, keep dogs confined away from the commotion in a separate room or pen when entryways get busy.
Mat training – Teach dogs to go to a designated mat or bed and reward staying there during greetings or when people eat meals.
Managing the environment combined with training is key to setting dogs up for success and preventing bad habits like jumping from developing in the first place.
How to Stop Your Dog from Jumping on You
To stop your own dog from jumping on you:
Ignore completely – Stand still like a tree and give zero attention. No talking, eye contact, or touch. Only reward four paws on floor.
Redirect – Ask for a simple obedience cue like “sit” to interrupt the jumping habit and redirect their energy positively.
Reward calmness – Give treats anytime your dog offers a polite sit near you instead of jumping. This reinforces what to do instead.
Be consistent – Do not ever pet, play or reward your dogs for any jumping. This will undermine their training that feet on the floor is the only way to earn your attention.
Use gates/leashes – Use baby gates, closed doors, or leashes to prevent access and self-rewarding of the habit. The less they practice jumping, the faster the habit will fade.
Exercise first – Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise before situations when they may get jumpy and ask for attention.
With a family effort to completely ignore jumping and reward four paws on the floor, even the bounciest, most enthusiastic dog can be trained to keep their paws politely grounded!
Jumping up can be a difficult habit to break, especially for extremely energetic and social dogs who become overstimulated with excitement. However, having a dog who jumps on visitors or strangers is problematic and warrants training. With time, consistency and positive methods, you can curb jumping and teach dogs to sit or lay down politely to greet people instead. Stick to the training plan and manage their environment to prevent rehearsal of jumping. Your dog will soon learn to control their excitement and happily earn rewards for four paws on the floor! Politely sitting or laying down to say hello will become their new habit, resulting in improved behavior and more enjoyable interactions with guests.