In this article we are going to look at why dogs jump up, and how to stop them. Helping you to teach your dog not to jump up at anyone they meet. No more jumping up at your guests and embarrassing you, or knocking people flying at the dog park.
Jumping up is a common problem for owners of any dog breed. And your friendly pup is no exception. Stopping a dog jumping up on your is relatively simple, but your visitors and family members can accidentally make the learning process much harder. We’re going to show you how to get past the every day obstacles, and teach your dog to keep their paws on the floor.
Click the green links to jump down the page:
- Why do dogs jump up?
- Why Labradors jump up more!
- Why is jumping worse at 1 year old
- Is jumping up a behavior problem
- Bad ways to stop dogs jumping up
- The best way to stop jumping up
- Prevention instructions
- Training instructions
- Training tips for polite greeting
- Training video
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 behavior 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 behavior 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.
Do Labradors jump up more than other dogs?
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 behavior 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 jumping Lab reaches six or seven months old. And weighs enough for you to really feel it when his paws hit the center of your chest.
If the dog doesn’t stop at this point the problem is likely to get worse. It 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 behavior 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 also 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 behavior. 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 behavior 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 there are three problems with ignoring the dog:
- 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.
- It is actually quite difficult to ignore 80lbs of Labrador when he greets you after a swim
- 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?
- 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. And then we 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 behaviors 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.
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 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 behavior to the jumping. And then reward the dog for that behavior.
Step by Step
You need a little preparation in order to succeed. Before you begin get your treats ready. You are then going to distract the dog, mark the behavior you like and follow it with a reward.
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. You need to be very generous at the beginning of training a new skill.
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.
Choose a quiet room, with no toys on the floor or other family members or pets around. Stand in the middle of the room with your clicker in one hand and some treats in the other. Wait for your dog to stop jumping up at you.
You want to look for the moment they are still, with all four paws on the floor. As soon as this happens click, then drop five treats between his paws in quick succession. Then throw a sixth and final treat a small distance away.
Your dog will probably run back to you and jump up again, looking for the treats he now knows you have. Wait again, motionless. As soon as he tires and gets down on the floor, click and drop five treats in quick succession again, but this time with a short gap (a count of one) between them. Throw the sixth and final treat a small distance away.
REPEAT – carry out this step until your dog pauses on their return to you and doesn’t jump up. Then move onto Step Three.
Wait again, motionless, for your dog to return to you. As soon as he has stopped on the way and has all four paws on the floor, click and drop five treats in a row. This time with a count of two between them. Throw the sixth and final treat a small distance away.
Wait again, motionless, for your dog to return to you. As soon as he has stopped on the way and has all four paws on the floor, click and drop five treats in a row. This time with a count of three between them. Throw the sixth and final treat a small distance away.
This technique uses something we call ‘treat streaming’. The reason we give multiple treats to avoid what is known as a behavior chain. When the dog links two activities together. So, they believe that the act of jumping up and getting down again is what is getting the reward. Therefore in order to get the reward they need to jump up. Treat streaming creates a gap which prevents this from happening.
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. 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. Which 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. The more often your reinforce these polite behaviors 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 behaviors 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.
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How do you stop puppy from barking much at night,,he is a Jack Russell and lab mix. He is a out side puppy.Has good place to sleep and all.laine
We’ve got a chocolate lab called Penny and Penny.
Whenever we go for runs, we run and
He drags me through the woods, Anytime when
I pull her back and she hops up high.
My face, my face. She has a bad habit, too, of
Having our ears bitten. Truly, we don’t know
What to do with her, what to do
I’m having a 8 month old yellow lob he is jumping & biting is there any way to stop it
This is great. I have a six year old yellow lab that Imcannot break from jumping.
I have a 2 year old chocolate lab. She is becoming a good dog but she forgets to listen when she is playing with other dogs so I have taught her that when she is off leash and comes back to me I give her a treat. It has worked great. Now I can take her to an off leash park and she is never far away from me. We have a great park with a lake beach and good trails. She gets an hour of running every morning and when we get home she is content. We are still working on a few other Behaviour items and it takes constant, persistent insistence that Behaviour rules are followed. She is happy, healthy and wonderful.
This is a difficult one because in some cases I want my dog to jump. So how do you train him not to jump on people but to jump over a wall or a fence when I am on a walk in the woods or somewhere else?
These techniques should be used when the pup is very young, before they get big enough to knock someone over. We successfully used the ignore-and-walk-out-of-room method, in addition to getting down to her level to greet her when we returned after the “time-out”. Its all about getting the behavior we want at the earliest possible age, then reinforcing and rewarding after that. Training is a lifelong job. Labs are so sweet and crave attention, so we tended to go overboard with praise and affection when she did the right thing, and ignoring her when she misbehaved. We were privileged to have her in our lives for 13 years, and even when she was old she would wag her tail like crazy as she returned to the house after eliminating, still so proud of herself since we went overboard on praise when we house trained her as a 2 month old. We still miss her; eventually we’ll get another lab. They are the best dogs out there.
Why does my 4 month old puppy like to eat her dog poop ?
Hi. We have a coming up to 2 year old Labrador dog. We have had him a week now. We are working very hard on not jumping up, being firm with him. Most of the time he is fine and spends a lot of time lying around when there is just my husband, son and I in the house. Today friends came over and he was absolutely mad with our female friend, jumping up, pawing at her, sniffing her etc. This went on for a couple of hours and he got very giddy when we tried to tell him no. In the end I had to put him in his crate. It was exhausting. Any suggestions please.
I have a 10 month Chocolate Lab that no matter what I do she loves to jump on every one. I have tried the turning away, the knee, giving her treats when she was good, and even the holding down on the gowned, still she jumps! Help I need help.
She minds my Brother when he comes over why is that?
We have a chocolate lab named penny and
When ever we go on walks running an
Drags me through the woods . Whenever
I pull her back she jumps high up in
My face . She also has a bad habit of
Biting our ears . We really don’t know
What to do with her
Me dog Zorro, black Lab, storms at high speeds back and forth. Also jump up at me, grabs my arm and pulls me around. I love it. If I was a dog, I’d be a labrador.
I have a 2 1/2 yr old reg. choc field Labrador. among other problems, one bad one is when he is playing with another dog, part of his play technique is barking right in the face of the other dog, and barking looking in all directions, very loud, and he is obviously making sure he barks loud and over and over.
he has done this for a long time. absolutely no point in talking to him at this time, his excitement level
is way too high, he doesn’t hear a thing.
we quietly take him by the collar and point to his crate and he willingly walks right in, door is closed,
and he becomes very quiet, fine, that works short term, but doesn’t help at all in long term, cause
he will do same thing next time, and he also does it with our other lab when he isn’t in charge of
the play rules, so he gets even by barking over and over in his face, and all directions.
he isn’t aggressive at all, but he is pushy when in that mood. he is an exciteable Labrador.
he also doesn’t travel in the vehicle very well, most times when we get home, he has peed in his
crate in the canopy. he rides in a large metal pen, other dog is loose in the back close by him.
he is very very clean in the house, has been since he was small, but in the vehicle he sometimes
barks a lot, and most times he pees, and I know he doesn’t do it purposely, I think it just comes
without he controlling it.
we have a bark collar for him, it seemed to work for a while, but he just barks right thru the little
shock, over and over, so it seems that I should just stop putting it on him altogether.
I don’t know what else to do about the barking, he purposely barks to make a point, he doesn’t bark
at people outside the house if he hears anyone, he just barks when he becomes very excited and
can’t control his emotions. I have decided there is not way to stop him aside from removing him from the room, put him in his crate, and leave him alone for a little while, he usually becomes very quiet, and
will just lie down and wait for me to come and let him out.
I hope he grows out of all of this ‘excitement’ in his life, he is loving, and quiet when we are with him
and our other lab in the house, and he is great on the trails out of town, but can’t take him for a
walk with a leash, the only way is to use a prong leash, works better, but no fun for me, I don’t like
walking with that sort of restraint on him. he has great eye contact, and knows everything we say,
we have to make up words so that he doesn’t know what we said, he has become bilingual, I’m not
kidding, he reacts to all of our routine moves around the house everyday, knows to go in his crate
as soon as I get the milk out of the frig for coffee, or for breaky, as soon as I say ok, he is in the
crate immediately, cause he knows a meal is ready, not his, ours. he has so much mental and physical
energy it goes all day, then he is all done by about 7 in the evening. I have raised many labs, bred them, showed them, my husband trains and runs our labs in events, we have solved lots of dog problems, but this dog is a puzzle.
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. 🙂
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?
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.
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.
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?
My dog’s name is Scout. He jumps on me. When you walk away from him, he will bit you in the butt. Why?
Scout is 1 year old
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?
Here you go Wendy: How to cope when your puppy bites 🙂
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?
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
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
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
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.
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 .
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
but the problem with Tyson is that he recall all the family members and just ignores 1 of us
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.
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, 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. Pippa
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
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