Jumping up is a common behaviour among dogs, and can happen for a number of reasons. You may find it okay and harmless, especially if you own a smaller dog, or you may become annoyed by your overly exuberant dog jumping up.
It is important to remember that no matter what your opinion on jumping up is, it can actually be dangerous for small children, people who have physical disabilities and elderly people. And it can also be unwelcome if your dog has poor recall; and does it to other people and/or dogs in the park too. So, overall, it is probably best to try and prevent it in the first place; no matter how small and harmless it seems.
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Most of the time, jumping only indicates that your dog is seeking attention. But as afore mentioned, that isn’t always the safest way to show their love. The good news is that you can train your dog to stop jumping on people and start greeting everyone more politely.
Why do they jump?
There can be a number of reasons your dog is jumping up. Working out the reason can be helpful to know how to deal with it. We of course always want to train them in a really positive way. The ‘dominance’ theory has been debunked and we no longer want to scare or be ‘alpha’ to our dogs in order to train them. But knowing the motive can help us be proactive about training and management.
Affection and excitement
Of course, one of the most likely reasons is that your dog is just really excited to see you! If they jump up when you arrive home or after a period of absence, wagging their tail gleefully, they are probably just really happy to see you and cannot contain their excitement.
If safe to do so, greeting your pet calmly but ignoring their jumping behaviour can help. They can get rewarded when they show the right behaviours, which is keeping four feet firmly on the ground! Sometimes this means ignoring the behaviour you do not wish to see until they stop. So it might mean that when you get home it might not be best to wind your dog up with lots of extra cuddles and excitable behaviour until they have learnt to greet you without jumping up. Once they have learnt this they can have lots of love and affection without constantly leaping up at you.
This is especially important because you do not want the same behaviour to be shown if you bring into the house someone who cannot cope or may get hurt with the excitable jumping behaviour.
This training is best started as a puppy to form a great basis for future behaviour. But if you have a dog as an adult then we know that ‘old dog new tricks’ can still be achieved if you keep up the hard work and dedication to train them well.
One thing that can cause jumping up, but that really ought to be quickly stopped is jumping up for food.
This may be in a few scenarios such as:
- Jumping up to steal human food
- Jumping up because you are about to feed them their own food
Dogs should never jump up to try to grab tasty delights. This could result in unintentional harm to the person holding the food; as well as resulting in them stealing food that could be harmful to them.
Sometimes, food is too irresistible to dogs. But if your dog is particularly food obsessed then they need to be away from food until you know you have trained them adequately enough to avoid these issues.
If they are begging and jumping, particularly around breakfast, lunch or dinner, sometimes it is best to remove them from the temptation. Something that you can do is give them enrichment in a quiet area while everyone else is eating. This is to keep them away from the human food and concentrating on something exciting and fun while everyone else gets to safely enjoy their food. This could be a stuffed Kong toy, a Likki Mat, a Snuffle Mat or a favourite chew toy.
If they get excited for their own food
Often resulting in them constantly jumping up at you if you have their bowl in your hand, then keeping up positive training can work something like learning to sit and wait before they get the food and a ‘release’ command to eat it can allow you to safely lower their bowl to the ground and move back before they can go ahead to eat it.
Remember that if your dog inhales food quickly and then starts to jump up and beg for more, you can always try slow feeders, snuffle mats, puzzle feeders and other enrichment feeders or training to feed them. Dogs don’t only need to receive their food in bowls. This keeps their brain ticking over, gives them mental stimulation, and can be a nice training exercise to teach them manners around food too.
Of course, another reason for dogs jumping up could be aggression. But it is usually paired with other signs like lunging, snarling, barking, tail low, hackles raised etc… This kind of ‘jumping up’ of course needs swift action for the safety of all involved. Getting on board a veterinary behaviourist and implementing changes suggested is especially important in these cases for the safety of all involved. Remember to never put yourself or others at risk. Act on the information and guidance of a credible veterinary behaviourist; remember that the terms ‘trainer’ and ‘behaviourist’ are not protected. ANYONE can call themselves this even if their methods are dangerous and outdated. So please do only go for those with accreditation and evidence-based training methods such as FAB clinicians or APBC.