We all love friendly dogs, but it’s not always a good idea to allow your dog to jump up. Here’s how to train your dog to stay calm when meeting strangers.
Dogs are sociable creatures and there’s nothing they love more than attention, strokes and playing with their loved ones. Especially if you often have a lot of visitors, you may find your dog will be even more excited by all the extra noise and fuss. This can mean they start to jump up on you and your guests. While this can be endearing, there are definitely times when you’ll want to stop a dog jumping up.
If you always fuss and pet your dog when they jump up, you’ll be reinforcing the behaviour and they won’t know that it’s not OK to do so. This applies more than ever when your dog is a puppy, as they are so cute that everyone just wants to make a fuss of them – but they can get confused if you start to tell them off for the same actions when they grow up.
How to stop a dog jumping up
If your dog has started to jump up, it’s important that you act quickly. The first thing to do when your dog jumps up is not to react at all. Keep calm, don’t move or speak and wait for your dog to get down again – even turn your back if you have to and don’t make eye contact. Once they’re standing or sitting on the floor, you can reward them with a calm pat and a ‘well done’.
Have a think about the times and places where your dog jumped up recently and make a list. By doing this, you'll be prepared for any similar situations and can pre-empt your dog's behaviour before it happens.
Try to get to your dog before they can jump up and start to calmly stroke them with their paws on the floor. Maybe kneel so they know the fuss is happening without them needing to jump up.
If they do happen to jump up, don’t react and certainly don’t scold your dog. Telling them off is a reaction. Be consistent with your training and make sure everyone in the house is on the same page, as otherwise the dog may become confused. Gradually, your dog will learn that they don’t get treats or fuss for jumping up and they’ll stop doing it.
At home, your dog may get excited when visitors arrive, so keep them in a different room, with a baby gate in the doorway, until everyone sits down and things are a little calmer. To help reinforce your dog’s training, let your visitors know not to react if your dog jumps up. Then, bring your dog in on a lead and again, only reward appropriate behaviour.
How to stop a dog jumping up on strangers
It’s particularly important that you train your dog to keep down when they meet new people at home or outside. They might try to jump up on someone who’s scared of dogs or on children and this can result in a bad experience for all concerned.
To help you with training, rope in some friends or relatives and ask them to walk towards your dog while you tell them to sit. Reward them with a tasty treat when they sit on command. The helper can move closer while you continue to praise your dog, pat them and give them treats. Placing a lead on your dog for this exercise will make it easier to correct their behaviour, should they try to jump up.
Finally, your helper can praise your dog too. If they suddenly get excited, ignoring it is key, so that they don’t get a reaction from bad behaviour. Gradually, they’ll learn that sitting will get them the most attention. If they still have problems with their attention span, scatter a few treats on the floor around the dog so they’re distracted by searching for them.
When you take your dog out, don’t let them off the lead if they’re still prone to jumping up. Use a long lead and reduce the length by calling your dog to your side, if they start to get excited. If you meet a friend, ask them not to pet your dog until they are sitting calmly. If you work on the basic premise that ‘sit’ equals ‘hello’ in all interactions, this can help to eradicate the jump as part of the greeting. Your dog will begin to understand that sitting first will bring what they want, whether that’s affection, food or something else.
If you’re having problems with a young dog’s behaviour, it may help their progress to take them to puppy training classes.
Have you got some great tips for stopping your dog jumping up on people? Share them with other dog owners on social media using #PethoodStories.