If you are not actively training your puppy, it’s very likely they will be learning behaviours you do not like. A common challenge for lots of new puppy owners is jumping up to get attention.
If a puppy is so delighted to see you that they jump up and climb on you, it can seem charming and adorable. When they’re little and around people who know them, you may not see a problem with this behaviour. Nevertheless, as your puppy grows into a bigger dog and meets strangers, this behaviour could be annoying at best and dangerous at worst.
Jumping is a natural canine behaviour and it’s normal for dogs to jump with each other when they’re playing. In fact, this is often their way of saying hello, signalling they want to play and showing their feelings of joy and excitement. Natural, non-reactive dog interactions are not something to try to train out of your dog. It’s jumping up on people that is the problem.
Why do puppies jump up?
Puppies jump up for lots of reasons. Often they’re excited to see you and they associate you with fun, love and treats. When they see you and feel excited, your puppy can struggle to manage their feelings and start to behave in a physical way. Of course, dogs cannot explain their feelings verbally, so they have to use their body to communicate.
When you have a new puppy, your natural reaction will probably be to play with them, or cuddle them when they jump up. This then becomes a learned behaviour and your pup will start jumping up if they want attention.
Your puppy might also jump up if they see you have something, like a toy or food, and they want it. If left unchecked, jumping up can be dangerous behaviour that could lead to biting.
Why is a puppy jumping up a problem?
When your puppy jumps up, it's only natural to want to lean down and pet them. Yet this is the worst thing you can do if you’re trying to train them not to jump up. This interaction reinforces the idea that jumping is an effective way to get attention from you. Naturally, they’ll do it more to get the ‘reward’ of your attention.
You may enjoy this obvious demonstration of joy and affection from your puppy while they are small and in the house, but it’s a very different experience when they’ve grown much bigger or they’ve had a particularly muddy walk.
Worse still, it could be very unpleasant for everyone concerned if your puppy was to jump up at people who don’t like, or are scared of, dogs. There could even be the possibility of a serious injury if your dog was to jump up at a child or someone who was disabled, elderly or vulnerable in some way.
How can I train my puppy not to jump up?
It is best to train your puppy not to jump up while they are still young. As with all puppy training, everything you do with your puppy should be done in a calm and methodical manner.
If your pup has already learned to jump up on you, perhaps you’ve previously encouraged this behaviour. As a result, it will be potentially challenging to tackle their learned behaviour. Remaining patient and consistent is key.
If your pup does jump up, it’s important to react in a calm and collected way, giving your dog minimal attention. A big reaction could be interpreted by your dog as excitement, or confrontation, and even negative attention could be perceived as a ‘reward’.
Instead, when your puppy jumps up, stay calm and turn your back on them. Do not look at, or speak to, your pup if they are jumping up. Eye contact or verbal communication can be seen as encouraging and rewarding to your dog. You could be inadvertently telling your dog to jump up more.
The second your puppy stops jumping and has all four paws on the ground, turn around and give them the attention they want. Keep your praise positive, but calm, in order to not overexcite them. So long as you are consistent, your puppy will eventually learn that not jumping up is how they will get the attention or greeting they want.
It is very important that all members of the family, and all visitors, dog-walkers and even passers-by, behave in this same manner towards your dog. Keep your puppy away from people who will not follow your instructions.
Place your dog on a lead for additional safety when visitors arrive at your home. This will allow you to have a greater degree of control until your dog has settled and can be trusted to be loose again.
The more consistent you all are with your training, the quicker your dog will learn the correct way to behave.
How long does it take for a puppy to learn not to jump up
There’s no set life stage or time period for teaching your dog not to jump up. Some breeds naturally learn quicker than others, and not all dogs start in the same place. If your dog has been jumping up for a while, it could take longer for them to unlearn the behaviour, rather than if you train your puppy from scratch.
Even when your puppy has learned not to jump up, they might lose their good habits once they reach adolescence, or get so excited or overwhelmed they forget. You need to continue to reinforce your pup’s training throughout their life to avoid them slipping back into this learned behaviour.
Ultimately, you need positivity and patience for all puppy and dog training. Never get cross or angry with your dog, as this can set back their progress, confuse them and harm the bond you’ve worked hard to build with your pet. Jumping is a natural dog behaviour and they don’t mean any harm when they jump up at you. If anything, it’s likely your dog is trying to show you their excitement or affection, not cause harm. If a training session is not going well, or you can feel yourself, or your dog, getting frustrated, pause for the day and try again tomorrow.
If you’ve tried to stop your dog from jumping up, but nothing seems to be working, it’s a good idea to work with a qualified dog behaviourist. They will help you to address the problem and offer bespoke solutions for your dog.
Have you got experience of teaching a puppy not to jump up? Tell us how you managed it on social media using #PethoodStories.