Dealing with a Jumping Dog, or "Jump Up, Jump Up and Get Down!"

By Martin Olliver

Often it’s ok for a dog to jump on its owner, but awkward and even harmful when he jumps up on others, such as other family members or friends. This can be confusing for the dog, but a well-trained dog can quite happily learn never to jump on strangers, and when it’s ok and to jump on you (playtimes, for example). A dog jumping up on a child can be a frightening experience, especially when the dog becomes taller than the child when he rears up. A dog jumping up on strangers is always a bad look.

During greetings, always try to prevent your dog from jumping up in the first place. Put your hand (or both hands) out in front of you and hold still. A trained dog will be able to respond to this gesture, without any verbal commands, and realize that it should stay down. If he gets down on his own accord, then start using the “down” command to accompany the behavior. Ideally, you always want the dog to perform the correct behavior first before using a verbal command, so they have some action to associate it with.

For most, this type of prevention does not work right away, especially for puppies that lack enough formal training. You’ll have to know how to react when your dog starts jumping up. Mostly, this involves what NOT to do. For example, don’t be over-enthusiastic during your greetings. This obviously reinforces the behavior. And do not forcefully push the dog away from you. They interpret this as a form of playful engagement. The result: dogs always push back. It’s instinctive (and the same principle is the reason for the majority of cases where dogs pull on leashes – they are encouraged by the force exerted on them).

Turn your back and ignore the dog. And calmly ask him to sit. When he has calmed down, and ideally responded to the sit command, then you can turn and greet the dog. If it starts jumping again, repeat the process. Be patient, this is where you get to send a message mainly through your body language, and the dog will surely take many trials to receive it. Often it is recommended that you stick your knee up and put the dog off balance, which is almost a reflex reaction. Turning your back and stonewalling is better if you can manage.

One of the absolute best suggestions I can give is to always greet a calm dog “at its level.” Squat or kneel down, and open your palms open toward the dog. This is a non-threatening posture that dogs very quickly associate will impending praise. We all like when others try to meet us on our level. Dogs are no different in this respect. But make sure they earn it first!

Avoidance is your best bet when introducing new people into your house. If you have established your position as the dominant member of your pack, then your dog should never be allowed to position himself in front of you when the front door opens. Time for you to become the Alpha Dog if that’s the case, which is means more training for you.

Martin Olliver has over 12 years experience in dog training and is a proud member of the Kingdom of Pets team ( For more great articles on problem jumping, visit:

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