Jumping Up to Say Hi

| May 7, 2021

Jumping up on people is a natural canine behaviour. Dogs love it because it gets them attention – which is always their ultimate goal. However, this can be dangerous. People can get knocked over, such as seniors and children. It’s more polite, and safer, to teach your dog how greet people appropriately.

Why do dogs jump up?

Dogs repeat behaviours that earn them rewards. Your attention is the most valuable reward for your dog. Even actions that you may perceive as negative ones, such yelling at your dog, pushing them off, or grabbing their paws, is still giving them attention and can reinforce the jumping behaviour. For many dogs, pushing them away is simply part of a game.

How to stop it

To eliminate jumping from your dog’s greeting repertoire, you need to eliminate the associated rewards. When your dog jumps up, instead of pushing them off and telling them “no”, turn or step away from them. By doing this, you will teach your dog that they will not get your attention for jumping up.

If you ignore your dog when they jump, their jumping behaviour should eventually stop because it’s no longer being rewarded. However, every person you encounter in your home or on the street isn’t going to know these rules, which can be incredibly frustrating for your dog. To help your dog, they need to be taught the proper way to greet.

Finding another greeting behaviour

How you want your dog to greet people is up to you. You might simply want all four paws on the floor, or you might want your dog to sit or lie down. But remember, you need to tell them what to do, not only what not to do.

Whatever method you choose, remember to repeat this action with everyone they greet. Reinforce your dog’s positive behaviours with a reward, such as their favourite toy or treat. This will help your dog to learn that keeping their feet on the floor is the way to get the attention they want, and they will be less likely to jump up.

Where to get more advice

Would you like more training tips? Toronto Humane Society offers virtual training courses. You and your dog can learn together, in the comfort of your home, with tailored guidance from a professional trainer.