Why does your dog jump up?
When a dog jumps up, it can really divide the crowd. If you’ve just got home, you open the door, and your beloved pooch jumps up to greet you, you’ll probably be delighted. On the other paw, if they do it when they’re covered in mud after a good long splash in a puddle, you may be less than thrilled.
It can also be a very different feeling if it’s your dog who’s jumping up or a stranger’s dog. When someone else’s dog comes lurching towards you to decorate your jeans with their paw prints, you’re probably not going to pat them on the head afterwards and offer them a treat. Instead, you might be tempted to offer the owner some training tips.
It all starts as a pup
So what’s driving your dog to jump up? This behaviour begins when they’re a puppy. When they spot their mother bringing food to the litter, they jump up and lick her face as a way to ask her to drop the food.
Jumping up is also a natural way for puppies to say hello. It gives them the chance to greet each other nose to nose and find out what their siblings have been up to, using their powerful sense of smell.
The benefits of early training
Behaviour that’s adorable when your Labradoodle’s a tiny pompom on legs is less endearing when they’re all grown up and have become the size of a Labradonkey.
That’s why it’s always best to start their training early. Also, you’ll be doing yourself and the world of dogs a favour. No one likes muddy pawprints on their clothes and some people are scared of dogs. By encouraging your dog not to jump up, you’ll make it easier to take your pooch out in public without annoying or frightening other people.
Teach your pup not to jump
Every time you interact with your puppy, you’re teaching them what you do and don’t like. So if you laugh and lavish them with love when they jump up at you, naturally enough, they’ll assume this is something they should do as often as possible. Why not? After all, a dog basically wants to make you happy.
The most popular training trick to stop your dog from jumping up is simply to turn your back on them as soon as those front paws leave the ground.
When your dog realises that you ignore them when they jump up, they’re no longer rewarded for that behaviour, and they’ll stop pretty quickly. However, as with any training technique, you must be consistent. So make sure that your family and any visiting friends do the same to reinforce the behaviour that you’re trying to encourage.
Treating a greeting disorder
As your pup grows up, unless you dissuade them, they’ll carry on jumping up as a way to say: “Hello, I’m here!” This, rather brilliantly, is known as a greeting disorder.
Don’t shout at your dog or push them away when they jump up. A reward will get you further than punishment.
Ideally, you will train your puppy when they’re young, but it’s never too late to teach a dog how you want them to behave. As we explain here, it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes a little longer.
Here are a few approaches to try:
- The ‘turn your back’ approach described above.
- Ignore your dog when they jump up. Don’t look at them, don’t engage, don’t say anything. Just carry on with what you were doing before.
- The distraction technique. Have your dog’s favourite toy to hand and involve them in a game to stop them from jumping up.
- Reward your dog with a treat if they sit quietly and behave calmly when friends and family arrive.
Other reasons why dogs jump up
Dogs don’t always jump up because they’re excited to see you. Some dogs jump up because they’re afraid or because they’re trying to dominate the situation. So how can you distinguish what’s going on in that doggy brain?
Fear is one of the least likely reasons for your dog jumping up. But if your dog doesn’t normally jump up and they suddenly do, it’s worth thinking about what might have caused that behaviour.
It could be because they’re spooked by something – a sudden loud noise or a dog that they don’t like the look of.
Do what you can to calm your dog down and reassure them that there’s nothing to be scared of. If they’ve reacted to another dog’s presence, take them out of the situation. If your dog is often anxious, consider a calming supplement like YuCALM Dog. And if the behaviour persists, take your dog to the vet for a check-up to put your mind at rest.
“I’m top dog”
Dogs can also jump up because they want to show you who’s boss. We all love our pooches, but we have to be in control. Otherwise, their dominant behaviour can upset, irritate and annoy both you and other people.
In this case, your training needs to focus on encouraging your dog to respect you, your rules and your boundaries.
Show your dog that you’re in control by owning your space. If your dog jumps up at you, step sideways. You can also address the underlying issue of showing your dog who’s boss by, for example, making them wait by a doorway so you can walk through it first.
If your dog is showing signs of aggression such as biting or snarling, address this immediately and ask your vet or an animal behaviourist for advice.
Jumping and your dog’s joints
When your dog jumps up and down, it also has an effect on their joints.
When your dog jumps up:
- Their weight shifts into the large muscles in their back legs and onto their back leg joints.
- The supporting muscles and back leg joints propel your dog upwards and forwards.
- On landing, the front legs are mobilised, flexed and extended to act as a brake.
And when your dog jumps down:
- Your dog uses their body weight to create downward momentum.
- When they land, they ‘brake’ using the front of their body, putting extra stress on their front legs and shoulders.
- Jumping down takes less muscular work than jumping up, but when your dog puts on the brakes, they run the risk of a twist or strain.
Jumping can increase the load on your dog’s body and lead to your dog developing stiff joints. If this happens, you might want to give your dog a joint supplement such as YuMOVE, which is clinically proven to aid stiff joints and mobility.