How to stop dog jumping up (& encourage 4 paws on the floor)

dog jumping up at person walking in a field

Does your dog jump up at strangers on walks? Leap all over visitors? Jump all over you when they’re excited? Or jump up at the counter to steal your freshly roasted chicken?! 

This is one of the things I get asked about frequently at dog training classes – excitable dogs can feel like a big handful! Especially if you have a high energy dog or a large dog who’s likely to knock people off their feet! 

In this blog, we’re going to look at the different reasons dogs jump up, and most importantly, what you can do to encourage them to keep all four paws on the floor! 

Why does your dog jump up? 

If your dog does something and they find it rewarding, they’ll keep doing it! If your dog is jumping up and you want to stop them, you need to first understand why they find jumping up rewarding…

 
Then you can put a plan in place to help them choose to do something else.

Will my dog grow out of jumping up?

Very unlikely! Whatever a dog or puppy practises, they get better at. If your dog or puppy jumps up at people, other dogs, or at counters to steal things, they’re being rewarded every time (whether you like it or not)!

And what a dog finds rewarding, they’ll keep doing. So read on to learn how you can nip jumping up in the bud and encourage all four paws on the floor. 

Let’s look at the different scenarios you may be experiencing and then I’ll share specific tips you can use to encourage your dog to calm down and stop jumping up!  

How to stop your dog from jumping up

If your dog jumps on you, strangers, or on visitors/guests it can be embarrassing, frustrating, and sometimes even dangerous especially when it comes to small children, elderly people or people with disabilities in jumping distance! 

Teaching your dog to stop jumping up relies on teaching them impulse control, alternate behaviours, and keeping their adrenalin and frustration levels down so they can fight the urge to leap. 

Why they do it:

A dog who jumps up when excited to see you (or someone else) is often desperate to say hello, which gets their endorphins running and they find making contact rewarding. 

Some dogs jump up because they’re nervous or worried – this kind of jumping up is often mistaken for excitement but it’s really a dog who doesn’t really know what to do with themselves. 

The good news is, whichever reason it is, teaching your dog what to do instead and making it highly rewarding can help. For nervous dogs, it’s worth also working on their confidence. 

What to do about it:

1. Smash your settle training

If you can find 5 minutes once a day to practise your settle training in different scenarios, you and your dog will have a much easier time when visitors come round and when you’re out and about together.

Rewarding your dog for settling means they’ll have a stronger incentive to do it – and practising it regularly helps your dog build a solid learned behaviour that makes it way easier to default to when excited. 

You can learn how to teach settle in my dog paradox training course here.

2. Let your dog say hello, but use a lead

Stopping an excited dog from saying hello will only lead to frustration and pumped up FOMO feels. The more you try to stop your dog from greeting you/visitors, the harder it’ll be for your dog to settle and say hello calmly. 

Use a lead for as long as you need, so your dog can’t knock over a 90yr old granny or face plant the 2 yr old that’s running around nearby!

3. Play the treat toss game

Tossing treats onto the ground can help encourage your dog to keep all four paws down and sniff them out. It also gives them an alternative activity to focus on that’s naturally calming as your dog will be using their nose. 

Give your visitors treats and ask them to toss them on the floor near your dog or play the game yourself when out and about to redirect your dog’s attention and focus. 

dog sniffing treats on the beach while person tosses treats to stop jumping up
use the treat toss game to stop dog jumping up

Don’t wait until you need it, practise this game with your dog at home and on walks with no distractions so that when you toss the treats around distractions, sniffing them out is already a habit. 

4. Set your dog up for success with the right exercise

Most people turn to giving their dog a fast paced, high energy walk to try and tire the dog out and calm them down. This often looks like meeting up with other dogs so your dog can run around loads or chucking a ball repeatedly to burn energy.  

The problem with this is it HYPES your dog up. They’re flooded with adrenaline, not tired. 

Instead, pick walking spots like woodlands, open fields, and beaches that will encourage your dog to sniff – and walk at a slower pace to encourage your dog to chill and explore calmly.  

dog in woodlands practising paws up to stop jumping up
teach paws up to stop jumping up

5. Practise enriching walks

Keep your dog’s adrenaline levels from spiking and encourage calm through mini games and training exercises like paws up and find it. Encouraging calm through enrichment and mental stimulation will help your dog to feel more settled in every environment. 

This doesn’t mean your dog can’t run around and have fun. But there’s a difference between your dog zooming about and having bursts of energy on their own accord and being encouraged to run full pelt in an attempt to tire them out. 

6. Prepare calming treats in advance

Giving your dog something to do like lick or chew can help them calm down and keep them busy. Long lasting chews such as pigs ears, pizzles and braided chews work really well, as chewing helps dogs to decompress and calm down. Lickimats and stuffed kongs have the same effect and can be popped in the freezer to last longer. 

7. Use baby gates and crates to control introductions

If your dog is happy in their crate or behind a baby gate, then you may find it easier to have them self contained when guests arrive. Think about where your crate or gate is positioned to set your dog up for success. 

Placing your dog’s crate away from footfall and where you’ll be settling with your guests, makes it easier for your dog to settle. Don’t forget to use some of your calming treats to keep your dog engaged with their own activity. 

8. Prep your visitors

Some visitors unintentionally hype dogs up! They’re excitable, move alot, and give your dog a lot of attention which only eggs your dog up more. 

It’s ok to tell visitors how you’d like them to behave around your dog. Explaining that eye contact, touching and talking to your dog will make your dog jump up more. Tell them you’re working on training and you’d like their help. 

Then give them some treats and ask them to toss them on the floor near your dog instead, which gives them a calm way to interact with your dog. 

9. Use distance to your advantage

If your dog goes crazy on walks the second they see another person or dog, then keeping a wider distance can help immensely. Play your treat toss game, paws up and sniffing games at a distance from people so your dog can practise ignoring them while doing something else they enjoy. 

Over time, you’ll be able to reduce the distance without your dog running off to jump all over people!

 

10. Practise disengagement games

Teaching your dog to spot things in their environment and disengage from them will help your dog to control their impulses to jump up. 

When you’re out walking together or have guests round and your dog looks but doesn’t leap, reward them. Pay the small stuff and you’ll start seeing more of it – remember, your dog will repeat what they find rewarding! 

Take time to get to know what your dog loves doing on a walk and become part of it and you’ll see your dog’s interest in you goes up – and their interest in jumping on other people will go down. 

11. Work on impulse control

Dogs who jump up often lack impulse control. My calm yer beans! mini-course is fun, easy and waiting to help you transform your dog’s self control in just a few minutes each day! 

It’s packed with fun games and training exercises that’ll teach your dog to reign in their impulses and make better choices. Your dog will learn to 

  • patiently wait – knowing the best things will follow 
  • steadily stay – until you release them for fun 
  • reliably leave things that aren’t theirs for the taking
  •  seek permission before rushing off   
  • keep close (even when their off lead)
  • Control their thieving impulses (perfect for counter surfers!) 

Transform your dog’s impulse control and stop jumping up for good

Just £29

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Becky Milne East Coast Dog Training with Border Terrier

Hi, I’m Becky

I’m an ethical and positive dog trainer who wants to help you create a fantastic relationship with your dog.

I offer fun and effective dog training that makes you WANT to train.