How do I stop my dog from jumping up?

A woman signalling for her dog to stay sitting down
Rachel Oates © / The Kennel Club

It is important to teach dogs not to jump up on people, but instead to greet them calmly and politely. Jumping up can be a real nuisance, particularly if the dog is muddy, or you are in your best clothes. It runs the risk of someone being scratched or worse still, knocked over which could get the dog and owner in serious trouble with the law. Not everyone likes dogs, and certainly those people who don’t will not appreciate your dog’s ill mannered attempts to be friendly.

Steps to teaching your dog not to jump up

  • Our dogs tend to jump up on us when they are excited. It’s a behaviour that they will have employed when they were smaller to get closer to us, that went unchecked
  • If your puppy or dog is very excited to see you – first thing in the morning, or when you’ve been out – try to completely ignore your dog before giving it a very casual greeting and a word of praise. Wait until it is calm and has all four feet on the floor. Ignoring your dog means no eye contact, do not speak to them, even to tell them off. Walk past it, put your kettle on, look out of the kitchen window, etc. for as long as it takes for your dog to calm down
  • If your dog gets overexcited and starts jumping around every time you get its lead out, put the lead away again. Do this several times until the dog gets the message that being overexcited only results in no walk. Only proceed with putting the lead on, and going for the walk when they remain calm. Each time they get overexcited, go right back to the beginning again, or back to where they were previously successful
  • Meal times are another time when your dog is likely to get overexcited and to start jumping around. If this happens as you get the bowl out, put it away again – only proceed when the dog is calm. Each step is likely to cause them to start jumping again, so go back to the beginning and briefly sit down, before starting all over again, or back to where they were previously successful
  • Many of us see a nice dog or puppy, and make a bee line towards it. This can be intimidating for more sensitive dogs, but exciting for those of a more exuberant nature – and with excitement, often comes the desire to jump up. If you see someone approaching you and your dog like this, step in and control the situation
  • Teach incompatible behaviours – i.e. things that if your dog does them, they cannot jump up, like teaching them to sit
  • To teach the behaviours you want around other people, and to prevent your dog from jumping up, it is better to start with your dog on a lead – this gives you more control
  • Also control the people who approach your dog – pick people that you know will follow your instructions. Ask them to turn away from your dog, or even walk away when the dog is overexcited, and only greet the dog when it is calm – and on your say so
  • When you see someone approaching your dog, ask your dog to sit and reward them for sitting 
  • In an emergency, when you are not able to control the approaching person, or get your dog to sit – turn and walk away with your dog as quickly as possible, or throw down a handful of treats at your dogs feet, as if they are eating food off the floor, they cannot jump up. Remember, if treats are used, don't forget to take them out of your dog’s daily food rations, and grade them according to your dog’s stage of learning, and/or the environment
  • Don’t allow other people to feed your dog treats, or to have a game with your dog with a toy. This can make the approach of another person wildly exciting for your dog in the expectation of food or play, and therefore more likely to jump up

Please note: there are many different ways to train your dog. This is just one method of teaching. If you are ever in doubt, please seek professional advice. 

For more information and advice, you can find training classes with The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Training scheme, browse our full list of The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors or find a dog training club near you.