No More Jumping Up: How to Stop Your Labrador Leaping on People


In this article, I’m going to show you how to stop your Labrador jumping on people.  That includes you and your visitors.

Does your Labrador leap on everyone that walks through your front door?

Does he bounce at strangers when you are outside trying to enjoy a walk?

An awful lot of people struggle with trying to stop their Labradors from jumping up on people.

And a great many of them give up the battle. Let’s make sure you are not one of them

Why do dogs jump up?

Young puppies jump up because they want to get near to your face.   If you watch a mother dog greeting her puppies, you’ll see that they all run up to her and lick the sides of her mouth.

This is how puppies get adult dogs to regurgitate food for them to eat. Puppies do it to people too, and the behaviour often persists for many months as a kind of greeting gesture.

Young dogs also jump on each other as part of play – it is completely normal for dogs to do this. And because this is normal behaviour for young dogs in a family group, they do it to their human family members too

Many dogs naturally jump less once they are mature, but sometimes humans prolong or worsen the jumping up stage by inadvertently rewarding the dog for jumping up when he is small.

Why Labradors jump up more

Labradors are very friendly, sociable dogs.

They take a long time to reach maturity – emotionally – and are often very playful for several years.

Some Labradors are also quite excitable.

This means that jumping up is often worse in Labradors than in some other breeds

Why is jumping up worse in 1 year old labs

Jumping up is a behaviour that typically sneaks up on you. After all, a three month old Labrador puppy is simply cute when he stands on his little hind legs and puts his paws on your knee.

The problems begin to arise when your labrador reaches six or seven months old.  And weighs enough for you to really feel it when his paws hit the centre of your chest.

If the dog is not stopped at this point the problem is likely to get worse and often peaks at about one year old.

The one year old dog is still puppyish, playful, and very boisterous. He is reaching independence and is less likely to be concerned if people shout or get angry with him.  It’s all a big game to him

Is jumping up a behaviour problem?

I know quite a few people that don’t mind their dogs jumping up at all.  To them, it isn’t a problem.

But for most of us, it is.

An adult Labrador can weigh seventy to eighty pounds or more.

Even if you don’t much mind your best friend resting his paws on your shoulders so that he can greet you when you return home, the chances are, your friends and relatives may be less enthusiastic.

“He’s just playing” will wear thin as he gets bigger.

So why do so many Labrador owners let their dogs carry on leaping all over visitors, scratching their bare arms, knocking over their toddlers, and ruining their clothes?

Why do people let their Labradors jump up?

While there are a few thoughtless dog owners that are happy to let their dogs leap all over people, most do so for the simple reason that they cannot stop them.

And indeed, jumping up can be very difficult to stop using the traditional methods that are so often recommended.

Bad ways to stop dogs jumping up

Traditional methods are often ineffective.  Usually because these methods rely on some kind of action or reaction from the person being jumped on.

And because they fail to take into account how dogs play and interact with one another.

Let’s take a look at some of those traditional approaches.

1 The ‘knee in the chest’ approach

A popular traditional method for stopping dogs jumping up requires the person being jumped on, to lift up his knee.

This means that the dog meets a pointy object instead of your nice soft tummy when he hurtles toward you.


The initial problem with this method are firstly that for most people it is a natural reaction not just to raise the knee, but to use momentum and actively push the dog in the chest with their knee.

With a smaller dog this can actually cause injury.

With a larger one it can also hurt your knee! It looks pretty undignified too, and unbalances the person being jumped on so they are more likely to fall over when the dog collides with them.

Let’s not get physical

More importantly, unless you cause the dog considerable pain, shoving the dog in the chest actually encourages many young dogs to repeat their behaviour.

This is because pushing and shoving is a normal part of dog play.  Your dog will simply think this is a fantastic game.

He will also thoroughly enjoy all the attention he is getting and if you provide him with something he enjoys while he is jumping up, he’ll jump up even more in the future.

Generally speaking, getting involved in a physical tussle whilst training your dog is never a good idea.  Especially with a boisterous and powerful young labrador.

What about Granny?

However these are not the only reasons for rejecting this method. The main reason is that to be successful it depends on the dog getting the same response no matter whom it jumps on.

This is fraught with difficulty.

Is your two year old nephew going to oblige your dog with a knee in the chest, or will he simply fall flat on his face? What about your granny who thinks that getting up close and personal with your Labrador balanced on her chest is the best fun she has had all week.

A training method that puts people in hospital, or that relies on everyone who comes in contact with the dog to do the ‘right thing’  is not much very much use.

So, if we are not going to hurt the dog to stop him jumping up, what about ignoring him?

2 Ignoring the dog?

Some trainers will recommend that you simply ignore the dog when he jumps up.  It is true to say, that the dog will stop carrying out a behaviour that is completely unrewarded.

In theory if you simply fold your arms and turn your back on your dog, he won’t receive any reinforcement for jumping up, and jumping up will therefore naturally die out.

And sometimes this works, especially to prevent the dog jumping on his owner.  But usually, ignoring the dog is a part of the solution, rather than a solution in itself. You will need to incorporate some training techniques as well

In practice are three problems with ignoring the dog

  1. Some dogs find the act of jumping up and down and bashing into your back quite rewarding in itself, even if you ignore them completely.
  2. It is actually quite difficult to ignore 80lbs of  labrador when he greets you after a swim
  3. It is impossible to ensure that everyone he does it to will ignore him.  Is the toddler you just picked up off the floor going to turn his back and ignore the dog?  Is Granny?
  4. You may be able to control this situation at home, with baby gates or barriers, but outdoors it’s another matter.

And, just as with the knee in the chest method, not everyone will follow your advice.  For some reason best known to themselves, there are people out there who enjoy being embraced by a large wet dog, and will make a big fuss of him when he jumps up, no matter what you say.

Where do we go from here?

So once again, you are in the difficult situation of having a technique that relies on every potential victim / visitor carrying out your instructions.  And the simple fact is, most of them are simply not going to do that.

We need something more.  We need a method you can control, which prevents the dog being rewarded for jumping up, but which also offers him another more acceptable way of greeting people.

The best way to stop your dog jumping up

The answer is a two pronged approach

  • Management – physically preventing the dog from jumping
  • Training – teaching him not to jump

We need to first manage the jumping up to stop the dog being reinforced for it and to protect visitors and vulnerable family members.

We then need to teach the dog a polite way to greet guests.  Or people he meets in the street. Used together these two strategies form a winning combination

So the first step is prevention

How to prevent your dog jumping up

Jumping up is one of the many behaviours dogs indulge in, that are ‘self-rewarding’.  In other words just the very act of jumping up makes the dog happy.

So the more he does it, the more he wants to do it. We need to break that cycle and make sure that he is no longer rewarded by being permitted to do this.

Large dogs need to be physically prevented from jumping at people.  Outdoors, you must prevent your dog jumping up using his leash.

Taking control

If you can’t control him with his collar and lead you need to try a body harness, or as a last resort a head collar.  This will help you control your dog until you have trained him.

Many Labradors are at their worst indoors, when visitors arrive.  To avoid this, and give you back some control, you need to have your dog trail a house-line

The ‘house-line’

The house line is simply a short training lead that ‘his bounciness’ wears everywhere he goes whilst indoors.

It’s best to attach the house line to a body harness, so that you have control over the dog without yanking on his neck.

Every time visitors arrive, before the dog attempts to jumps up,  the houseline can be grasped firmly to enable you to detach him from  your visitor, or preferably to prevent him getting near enough to jump up in the first place.

It is much easier to manipulate a wriggling dog wearing a house-line than one wearing just a collar.

Of course harnesses, collars, and the house line is however simply a management tool. It doesn’t teach your dog how to behave.

How to train a dog never to jump up

Once you have your dog under control using a house-line, or leash, you can train him to greet people politely.

What you need to do next is to choose an alternative behaviour to the jumping.  And then reward the dog for that behaviour.  You can pick one of these

  • Sit to say hello
  • Four paws on the floor

Preparing for success

You need a little preparation in order to succeed.

  • Have treats ready
  • Distract the dog
  • Mark the behaviour you like
  • Follow the mark with a reward

Have treats ready

A lot of people fail because they don’t take the simple step of making sure they have something to reward the dog with when he gets it right.  A pat and a kind word are not going to cut it.  You need to be very generous at the beginning of training a new skill.

Later on, you can be less generous if you want to.

To start with make sure there is always a pot of training treats handy in your home.  If you are out on a walk, make sure you have training treats in a treat bag clipped on to your belt, or in an easily accessible pocket.

Distract the dog

This isn’t necessary with all dogs, but if your dog is very excited it can help to distract him from your visitor by scattering some treats on the floor as they arrive.

This helps to break his focus on the visitors and get his attention on you as the source of all good things.

This is especially important if your visitors are people that have previously rewarded your dog for jumping up by petting him and making a fuss of him.

From now on, the rewards come from you, and only when all four feet are firmly on the ground.

Mark the behaviour you like

Practice marking behaviours you like and following them with a treat.  This helps the dog to focus on you when you give your ‘mark’ and not on the visitor.

The mark is a word or sound you make that tells the dog YES you did the right thing.

You can practice doing this in the kitchen when there are no visitors about. Wait for your dog to sit, then say YES or GOOD and throw him a treat.  Choose the marker word you are going to use, and stick to the same word. You can use a clicker instead if you prefer.

Reward good behaviour

Now when visitors come, you can prevent your dog jumping using your houseline, then wait for your dog to sit, or to keep all four paws on the floor, say ‘GOOD’ and then put a treat on the ground for him.

Feeding on the ground is better than from the hand because it reduces the chance of  him jumping up for food.

The more often your reinforce these polite behaviours while preventing him practising the rude ones, the better he will get at being polite.

Tips for training a dog to greet visitors politely

  • Prevent jumping and lunging using restraint or barriers
  • Distract the dog from visitors and refocus his attention by scattering food on the ground
  • Reward polite behaviours using the mark and reward techniques outlined above

Advanced polite greetings!

As your dog becomes calmer and more manageable around visitors or passing strangers out on walks, you can teach him to take rewards politely from other people.

As him to sit as the visitor approaches and if he remains calm, give the visitor a treat to feed him with.  Use the houseline or lead to control the situation and make sure he is unable to jump on people.

This short video from Battersea Dogs Home illustrates the ‘sit to say hello’ technique

You can watch the four paws on the floor approach on the Kikopup Youtube channel,  and Kikopup has  lots of other fun videos which will help you train your dog without any force.

We strongly recommend this clicker solution to your jumping up problem.  Let us know if you have any other suggestions or questions about the method.

More information on Labradors

Check out our Labrador Training section for more help and advice on managing an unruly Labrador!

If you’d like all of our Labrador information together in one place, then get your copy of The Labrador Handbook today.

The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects of your Labradors life, through daily care and training at each stage of their life.

The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.


How to stop your dog jumping up  was originally published in October 2011.  It has been completely revised, and updated for 2015.

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.


  1. My 7 month black lab is getting a little out of control he has a habit of jumping up on people it was adorable when he was a cute little pup. But now he is heavy and nearly topples us over. He mostly do it to me cause I love him an awful lot and have never scolded him since he was a pup. He even greets strangers with enthusiasm my family finds it disturbing specially when he scares little children to death. One day he circled a little girl standing up on a chair to escape him, barking like there was no tomorrow. Saying to the little girl that he doesn’t bite naturally didn’t work!!!She was so scared screaming and crying which alarmed the dog even more and he is still & 7 months!!He can be intimidating to strangers but I know he is just playing but he makes the mailman scream like a girl. My family expects me to do something about it cause I pestered them to buy him(I am a huge dog lover) And he also have this habit of staring at food till he is given some,my dad is especially mad at that behavior. Also he has a habit of putting our hands and legs in his mouth he just hold there there doesn’t bite…still didn’t bite. Please need help I m still an A/L and hope to stop this behavior before my A/L exam comes near. :-)

  2. My chocolate labrador (9 months old) has a habit of jumping up and putting his front paws on our kitchen table. I’m firmly telling him “NO”, but he is constantly on the hunt for food despite being well fed and correcting him only deters him for a short while; 5 minutes later he tries again. Any tips to get him to stop?

  3. Could you please let me know how to stop our 2 year old labrador Alfie jumping up at people when he is out for a walk. He usually does this when he is about 20-30 yards away so it is impossible to grab him! We are hoping it is a phase and he will grow out of it but any help you can give would be marvellous. We want him to be a PAT dog which is not possible at the present time.
    Elaine Dyke

    • Hi
      Dogs are most unlikely to “grow out” of unwanted behaviour. To think that is to humanise your dog.

      If your dog get any attention or reaction to jumping up on people, he will be in effect “rewarded” and is more likely to repeat the behaviour. He mean even find the act of jumping up, rewarding in itself, even jumping up on someone who truly ignores completely (most people don’t truly ignore a jumping dog and any reaction can reinforce the jumping).

      It sounds like your dog is off lead and you allow him to run up to people and jump on them!

      First set up sessions where you meet people with your dog on a lead & prevent him jumping, only allowing any attention when sitting. Then repeat with increasingly long pay outs of a 10 metre training line.
      You need to put time, effort into training an alternative way of greeting people.

  4. My 2 year old chocolate lab will always jump up at guests regardless of if he knows them or not. We’ve resulted in putting him in the spare room but this isn’t very ideal due to the whining/barking. He’s a lovely and calm dog when he’s around us but turns into a completely different dog when a guest enters the house. It’s really quite a pain because I know that he’s a really good dog when with us. Any suggestions in stopping this hyper behaviour?

  5. Hi Pippa
    We have an 11 week old puppy and wondered what you recommend to help stop him biting. Often he is biting us when we bring him inside from being outside. He is not left alone for long periods and we have to young children who he is playful with although doesn’t seem to bite.
    Do we punish him for biting and how do I train him so he doesn’t bite the children?

  6. Our 7 month labrador Busta, insists on pulling on the lead, jumping, digging and biting. He has many stimulating toys, yet he also enjoys biting everything. He really is getting out of control when we see other people or dogs, what can we do?
    Thankyou :)

  7. We have a Beautiful black lab whose name is Coda, she is2 years old. Coda would jump on all our visitors. They would just turn their backs to her and she would stop jumping . She no longer jumps on anyone coming in the home. My question I have about our Coda is sometimes she won’t eat , she asks for her ball and after a while of chewing on her ball she will eat. Why

  8. Hi Pippa, My nearly 2 year old lab tends to sometimes jump up a me and grab my arm. I wouldn’t call it biting more of a grab. Its sometimes when I’m leaving the house or when she’s a wee bit over excited. I have tried to be firm and tell her no but its not working she then starts to bark and jump higher and grabs more. Its not a daily thing but I’m afraid in case it becomes one. Otherwise we don’t have any promlems generally with jumping up only this one. Thanks. Ax

  9. Hi pipa, we have a 7 month female black lab, that jumps and want to mouth my rist, and my wifes, we do egnore, and turn around but she seems to persits to jump, we have the lead on as well at all time so we can control, but she thinks thats a game. can you help. Nigel

  10. Hi our 23month old lab Jack is brilliant on the lead in the garden,however he still will pull on the lead when out for a walk he is not as bad as he used to be but he sniffs alot which in turn allows him to pull. We have started to come back home when he pulls even if he has not been out long on that particular walk. I think we are getting there. he is a smashing loving dog and quick to learn but equally quick to distraction.

  11. We have a nine month old female chocolate lab . Who is nipping all visitors, who also are trying to ignore her , but she persists in nipping . How can we solve this. Other than putting her outside , or in another room.

    Many thanks Jane .

    • Hi Jane, there is an article here on biting. But this is often also a training and overexcitement issue. It can be helpful to decide what you do want your dog to do when visitors come. Do you want her to lie in her basket? To sit quietly while she is stroked? These are things you can train for. You might also find this article helpful. Excitable Labrador Putting a shortish trailing line (house line) on the dog indoors will give you some more control whilst you work on training new behaviours

  12. Hi Pippa
    I am currently browsing this website looking for behavaioural help with my 7 month old lab named Cane. We went on holiday for one week over the festive period and left him at my dads house where he had a great time as my dad also has a lab of around two years old. Half way through the week he stopped eating his food (eukanuba) but i think it was because my dads dog gets wet food and possibly Cane was jealous. He was excited to see us when we got back however wasnt very pleased when we tried to take him home. Since then, nearly one week ago he has been very sad doesnt really want to play, still isnt eating his food even after a flavour change and seems to have an icky stomach and generally just wants to sleep all day long. This is very different to how he was before we left for holiday as he was very active and happy. What do you think is the matter with him and do you think we should take him to see a vet?

    • Hi Samantha, there are so many reasons that a dog might be off colour, the best person to make a diagnosis really is your vet. Good luck and I hope your dog is ok. Pippa

  13. hi,i have a lab of 2 months 8 days named Tyson. He comes to all the family members of our family but he ignores just 1 of them ,can you tell me why this happens and how to cure this.

  14. how do I get my lab used to the leash so I can take for walks? She hates the leash and will just sit down or wont budge shaking her head back and forth….Please help me…I really want to take her out for walks…

    • Hi Kim, there are some articles about lead walking on this page. If your Labrador is very young you will need to be patient and offer her lots of small rewards each time she moves along next to you. You can find puppy training articles here Pippa

  15. Hello My female Lab is 2years old and we moved from a home to a
    townhouse. At the old house we had a field infront of us and she normally
    run frealy but now she walks on a lead. She completely refuse to walk further than the corner of the road we stay in and frequently look back to the gate of the Complex. Is it because of fear?
    She also talking to me in a way to say do not leave and try to grap/bite
    my arm. Please assist me. She was a puppy when i got her.

    • Hi Irma, it does sound as though your dog is afraid of the new location. Try and get her used to it as gradually as you can, and give her lots of nice rewards each time you take her out. If necessary you could even give her her dinner in the places that she is scared of to help her associate them with pleasure. Pippa

  16. Hi Pippa
    Our two-year-old Lab Jazzie does not jump up on my husband or pull on the lead with him but persists in doing it to me; we think this is because I spoiled her when she was a pup and now she doesn’t listen to what I say. How can I correct her behavious towards me and mine towards her? We have three other older Labs and I have not had this problem with the others.

    • Hi Sasha, did you watch the video at the bottom of the article? This is the method I recommend. Let me know what you think. Pippa