Dogs that jump

I am fortunate to receive letters from dog owners all over the world. My show- ‘It’s Me or the Dog,’ has been broadcast in over twenty countries and fortunately the message of responsible ownership is also spreading to far off places such as Brazil, Dubai and Hong Kong. If I personally answered all the training questions I receive from dog owners I would be spending the next two years on my computer. I don’t have the luxury of time, so I will attempt to answer some frequently asked questions via this blog.

What doesn’t surprise me is that dog owners all over the world have the same problems. I receive letters asking for advice on anything from housetraining to destructive chewing, from aggression to jumping up on visitors. Some owners are mildly irritated by their dog’s bad behaviour, while others are at their wit’s end and ready to send the dog to a shelter.  However it continually amazes me that many owners still have very little knowledge about how to deal with their dog’s behaviour.  There is such a wealth of great training information available, yet it seems few people tap into it. Please don’t let this stop you writing for advice because I feel very honoured to be in a position where I can help to improve dogs’ lives with their owners and vice versa. But I would urge you to take advantage of valuable information that is readily available in books, videos and from good trainers, making sure that you stay away from any that are punitive or unkind to the dog.  There are still many ignorant ‘traditional’ trainers out there that think the best way to train a dog is to make it submissive towards them using harsh methods such as choke collars, prong collars, Alpha rolls, hitting, physical manipulation and other appalling techniques and devices such as the shock collar. SHAME ON THEM. There are, however, many wonderful trainers that use positive reward methods. If your dog has a behaviour problem that you don’t know how to deal with and you need help – invest in one of these trainers.  It will change all your lives for the better.

One frequent question I get asked is how to stop a dog from jumping up on people when they come into the house? I always start by asking the same question, ‘why do you think the dog is jumping up?’

Dogs jump for many reasons. Don’t we like to see people’s faces when we say hello? Jumping while greeting is a great way for a dog to get your attention. Some dogs will jump from sheer excitement. Ever feel so excited that you just want to leap around?  Excitement produces physical energy and this energy has to go somewhere. Jumping and licking can also be sign of submission. The dog has to jump up in order to lick the owner’s face. Licking the face and around the mouth is a learned behaviour in our dogs and particularly prevalent in wolves, our dogs’ ancestors. Licking around the mother’s mouth stimulates her to regurgitate food. It also shows mum that pups are submissive towards her. Many pups and adult dogs will lick faces of humans and other dogs after being reprimanded. Licking is an appeasement gesture – sorry mum.

On the other side of the coin – some dogs will jump because they feel uneasy when someone comes into the house. Jumping becomes a controlling/coping mechanism that allows the dog to deal with the new intrusion. Taking this to the extreme is the dog that jumps up, puts his front paws on a person’s shoulders and stares them full in the face. I’ve met a few of those dogs and that is a direct challenge that I am not willing to win at that moment. I shall win the battle in a much gentler but clever way throughout training.

So what can you do if your dog jumps on people when they come through the door?

  1. If your dog is jumping from pure excitement then it is wise to manage your environment by not allowing the dog to greet people when they first come through the door. Keep your dog behind a baby gate and don’t allow him to greet until he is calm.
  2. It is important to be consistent. Don’t allow the dog to jump up on you when greeting and expect him not to jump up on guests when they come into the house.  Mixed messages are confusing and unfair.
  3. The best way to stop a dog from jumping up is to ignore it while it is jumping. This is an easy but effective way to deal with the problem. Each time the dog jumps up at you – turn your back. Don’t look, talk or touch the dog at any time it is trying to jump. Fold your arms in front and be boring. When he stops jumping wait for four seconds of four paws on the floor then reward this with your attention in a calm manner. If your dog jumps again, repeat. Sometimes the dog jumps harder and higher to get your attention. This is known as an extinction burst.  What has worked before is no longer getting attention so the dog tries harder. Be consistent because eventually he will give up! Remember ignore the crazy and reward the calm.
  4. If your dog is unconfident around guests and jumps to be controlling, do not allow your dog to greet your guests. Put him in a place where he can be calm and confident. When guests are seated allow your dog to come in and say hello. If your dog is aggressive in any way to strangers it is your primary responsibility to keep your guests safe. If this means your dog is away while guests are in your home, so be it. You will have a happier dog and happier guests.
  5. When your dog can greet in a calmer manner, teach him to walk up to a person and sit in front of them rather than jump all over them. This exercise will give your dog something to do while greeting providing a more controlled energy outlet which you and your guests will appreciate!

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11 thoughts on “Dogs that jump

  1. Teresa


    I have four American Askimos and one mutt (who every vet thinks is a Tibetian Spanial) but, I don't know. All I know is we need your help. I watch your shoe every day and I try the door training but it doesn't work. I left these guys for years as I was deployed to Iraq. I think they need help and we need ue.

  2. Teresa


  3. Michael

    Issue: Jumping and Biting where turning around allows for bites on the legs, back and buttocks.

    Appreciate your advice on a dog jumping. However, request additional advice....

    Family member adopted Mack, 1.5 months ago...a playful, hyper active, insecure and loving 6 month old male Doberman -Shepard mix puppy, 55-60 lbs, who on his two legs stretches to 5'.

    Mack has bad habits/manors all around, and will search for something to chew and rip, from floor to ceiling, stretching up onto to counters and tables. He is not mean, but destructive. The above average chew toy
    doesn't have a chance.

    He is finally getting three walks a day which is helping to alleviate some of his energy and stress.

    His walks require before and after play, with Mach chewing on a soccer like ball, to alleviate his need to bite stress. His walks require a gentle leader which works great. But recently he reacted and began jumping on and biting the dog walker who is now afraid to walk Mack.

    Biggest Present Issue: Jumping and Biting.

    Meeting and greeting by Mack is accompanied by jumping and biting; cloths, arms, hands, legs, buttocks...whatever he can get a grip on. No real aggression but turning around doesn't stop him from biting. Mack jumps and bites new owners as into their 1.5 month. They are receiving
    training assistance but have not addressed this issue.

    Running around while playing can cause the same jump, biting response.
    Once Mack starts, he seems to lose it and doesn't stop until physically restrained.
    Even then he might start up again.

    This jumping/biting reaction also occurs when he is sometimes let out of his kennel, after being placed in a sit position, he launches into his meet and greet jump and bit mode. Mack has never made the slightest growl or shown his teeth in aggression. You can pull any toy away from him or food.

    Kennel issue:

    My thought, have him sit, open his kennel and as a reward, give him a chew toy with some treats to find, to transfer his need to bite energy and excitement.

    New person issue:

    Next: do the same when some one new comes into the house...have the new arrival give him a chew toy
    to work on to calm him down. Will suggest -keep him behind a gate until he calms down...

    Back yard issue:

    Not sure what to do when in the backyard and Mach starts jumping and biting in excitement besides yell "off", and physically pull him off and restrain him. Doesn't seem to lose interest or focus with a toy.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Thank you, enjoy your show and your work.


  4. Dee Ball

    Hi Victoria find your shows fantastic and have adopted several of yr training techniques which have had great results with my two springer spanials - one 10 yrs and other 2 yrs - fab dogs and great fun Just have one problem when they are in car.

    10 yr old whines all the time - at first used to be excitment as getting out but now does it even after several miles of running around - drives me, and everyone else, nuts.

    2 yr old [who is a rescue dog] loves car but aggressive when first put in car - probably linked to something that happened to him in the past ??? and keeps chewing my seat belts - on to my third replacement now....

    Other than this they are the most adorable dogs even through they will never be lead walkers - I like to think of them as free spirited and just love to run free like all springers but any advice you can give on the car issues would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and regards Dee

  5. Kate

    I have tried all your tips and they work fine, when it comes to me! My 7 month old puppy won't do anything I do not like to me, but he is not used to have weaker people around like my grandparents!

    My grandmother is in a wheelchair most of the time and uses a walker to get around! He has almost knocked her over a few times but she was okay. My grandfather on the other hand is sick of him because he won't listen when I tell him what to do when it comes to my puppy! He, in result of not listening, did get pushed down and was so angry that he hit my puppy really hard with his cane and hurt him.

    My aunt's and mother will not listen to me and get very angry when they see how he is with me and not them and then it starts another fight. I love Dopey so much but this is making me very nervous and depressed. It is not my house and if this keeps up, they will put him out! I need help and I don't know where else to turn.

    Dopey's breed is a very high energy breed and they don't get the point that he will NOT calm down as he gets older! It's not like he doesn't get walked every day and has plenty of other simulation to use up his energy but the things they do entices him to jump!


  6. Mimi

    Dear Victoria,
    My dog Buddi is a runt and a Pomchi. He is very energetic and can't help himself, but when he jumps he starts peeing on my family and our guest. I have no idea why he does this but whenever he meets somebody new they are his target. Please, give me advice for what to do with Buddi and his problems with weeing on those who enter our home.
    - Thanks

  7. Anita Maki

    Hi Victoria,

    My husband and I love your show and he bought me your book for Christmas. We have used your training techniques with our two new Shih Tzu puppies and are amazed with the results.

    We are however, having more trouble housebreaking our female puppy and with the extreme frigid weather we have in the Midwest this year have had to return to using the training pad for her in the house. She will still hide somewhere to potty rather than use the pad more times than not. She is eight months old and her brother is ten months old.

    We are working now on the jumping on guests.................lots more work to do. They don't jump up on us as much as the excitement that guests create really gets them wound!

    We are interested in what type of treats you use in your training. We are afraid that too many treats will result in excess weight gain; especially in our male puppy.

    Thank you for your wonderfull show and excellent training tips. Please continue to educate us!!


  8. Alessandra Casagrande

    Buon giorno Victoria! Spero tu riesca uno capire la mia E-mail scritta in Italiano visto Che con la tua lingua ho un po 'di Difficoltà.
    Ho appena adottato un cane femmina dal Rifugio Città dove abito (Venezia Italia), e anche se sto adottando il tuo metodo del rinforzo positivo, ho ancora qualche Difficoltà.
    Io ho UNO SHOW-ROOM di Interior Design e il cane è sempre con me come lo era Quello che Ho appena perso (Settembre 09 anni 17), Quindi c'è sempre Gente che entra e lei Spesso Abbaìa o ringhia, come posso fare per educarla non Avere paura della gente? Non Voglio Essere costretta uno lasciarla a casa Perché soffre anche di sindrome da abbandono!
    Grazie per la risposta Che vorrai darmi!

  9. andrew kougias

    Hi Victoria
    I am a great fan of you from Greece.I want to ask you if you can teach a dog witch is 12 months old and she is very crazy.She is dogo argentino.Thank you!

  10. Laura

    I'm happy that you exist and that I've met you with the tv-show 'It's me or the dog', because thanks to you I realized that I love so much dogs that I would become a dog-trainer. actually I never had a dog, but (if luck will be with me) iI'm going to work in a kennel and then, who knows...
    Thanks with all my heart

  11. Julia

    Hi, Victoria!
    I love your show and have been watching it alot lately. It has really improved my dogs behaviour towards my guests and I. Before you, Abby (dog-GSD) would jump all over our guests not because she was excited, but because she had some socializing problems and she tryed to hurt the guests. She'd also bark uncontrollably. Now, she calmly greets all guests and we even taught her not to bark! Just wanted to leave this message to thank you.
    Have a great day! ~ Julia

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