It seems impossible to teach your dog not to jump on people, but it’s not as hard as you think. Use one of the following methods and you’ll see results.
There are two methods used to teach a dog not to jump. The leash method gives you control of the dog by stepping on the leash when they try to jump. The “turn away” method is just that: turning away when a dog jumps. You can use one or the other, or combine them as needed.
I’ll be going over each method in depth, as well as calling out tips and tricks that have helped me over the years. If you want to try the leash method, you’ll need, of course, a leash. The “turn away” method doesn’t require any special tools. You’ll see the advantages of each technique, and learn when you should use one over the other, or perhaps when you should be using a combination of both. You won’t need any special tools, but have a leash and high-value treats on hand. You’ll also want to ask friends and family to help, especially when using the “turn away” method, because that one is dependent on whoever the dog is jumping on to turn to the side. If you’re using that one, you’ll need to communicate how it works to whomever your dog greets by jumping on them.
In ten years of training dogs of all ages, I’ve used both and seen success. I have one dog in particular who loves to meet people, so this was the hardest thing for her to learn. As an energetic and friendly puppy, it didn’t seem like she was fit to be the therapy dog that I’d envisioned, but a combination of both methods worked for her. I’ve been in small rooms with several dogs up for adoption and the last thing that you want is all of the dogs jumping on every visitor, so I’m using these methods on nearly every dog that I work with, young and old and everything in between. Don’t worry; you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Using the leash method to teach your dog not to jump
The leash method involves having a leash on your dog and using it as a tool to keep your dog from jumping up on people. The idea behind this one is that standing on the leash prevents your dog from jumping up, and that will eventually teach them not to jump up at all.
You will have to have your dog on the leash to use this method, which means that you’ll have to know when someone is coming to your home or be prepared for greetings when you’re out on a walk. When your dog goes to greet someone, step on the leash. Leave enough room for the dog to stand, but not to jump. Some trainers advocate doing only this, and that will eventually work without the leash.
For quicker results, though, add copious amounts of positive reinforcement. When working with dogs, it’s always a good idea to have some treats readily accessible. (Treat bags that clip onto your waistband are a wonderful investment.) Once the dog stops trying to jump, praise and treat them. Between not being able to jump and having attention and treats when they don’t, they’ll learn quickly what is expected of them.
The leash method is great for people who might need a little extra leverage with a big dog. Guests can be intimidated by a big dog jumping up on them, so having them on a leash gives everyone a peace of mind. The leash method is also good for people who might have issues with balance or could be easily knocked down by a dog. Having the leash on your dog is an added level of control that the “turn away” method doesn’t give you.
While this is a great method, it doesn’t allow much time if you have impromptu visitors. You may also have to first desensitize the dog to the leash, if they get over-excited about the possibility of a walk or car ride when they see it. To do that, simply have them wear the leash for periods of time while they are with you in the house. Always supervise when you do this, though. Leashes can get caught on furniture or in doors.
For most dogs, it doesn’t take long for them to catch on, especially if you add positive reinforcement to the training. Remain consistent and make it clear to anyone who might come to your home that you need to know when they are coming so that you and your dog can be prepared.
When your dog is able to greet people without jumping, you can remove the leash. Continue with the positive reinforcement, though. Remember: you don’t ever stop training a dog.
Using the “turn away” method to teach a dog not to jump
The great thing about this method is that you don’t need any tools, so no leashes attached. It gives you an opportunity to practice this anytime you meet a friend or friendly stranger. This method is my preferred one, but if you can be easily knocked down or have big, rambunctious dogs, then you might want to have a leash handy even when trying this.
This one also takes some cooperation from visitors, and whomever the dog might greet by jumping up on them. For that reason, you can have the dog on a leash when people come over.
When the dog jumps up, turn away from them. This does two things: it dislodges the dog’s front paws and it deprives them of the attention that they are seeking. The dog will jump again; keep turning away. Some dogs are more tenacious than others and this may take several minutes. You will have to be both patient and consistent.
When the dog stops jumping, immediately greet them. Usually, this is enough positive reinforcement, but it never hurts to give a little extra love and treats. In fact, they’ll get the idea even more quickly that they shouldn’t be jumping up if they want to get some attention.
If you’ve taught your dog the “sit” command, you can add it at this point. When they stop jumping up, you can ask them to sit. Then give attention and praise. With a little consistency, you’ll have them sitting and waiting to be acknowledged rather than them jumping up on people.
Be sure to communicate to guests and people you meet on walks that you are teaching your dog not to jump, and that you need their cooperation. Most people are glad to help. They don’t have to do anything differently; simply turn away until the dog stops jumping, then greet the dog.
As with the leash method, you can always add extra praise and treats for a little extra positive reinforcement. You may not need it with this method, though, because the reward for not jumping is giving the dog exactly what they had been seeking. It never hurts to treat a little extra, though. Reinforcing wanted behavior will never go amiss, and you might see faster results.
This is a method that anyone can use at any time, so it’s easy and quick. You don’t need any tools like leashes or treats to be successful, and most people are happy to cooperate when you explain what you need them to do. Again, as a safety measure, you can have a leash for back-up.
Tips for training your dog not to jump.
These methods will work on dogs of all ages. It will take some practice, so don’t get frustrated if your dog doesn't get it right away. Positive reinforcement works best, so keep it fun, have lots of love and treats on hand, and always try to end any interaction on a good note. When it’s a game for your dog, they’re more likely to learn and retain the knowledge.
Dogs learn through consistency, so whatever method you choose, stick with it long enough to see if it will work for both you and your dog. That doesn’t mean you can’t switch methods. If the dog isn’t responding at all, or you’re having trouble desensitizing them to the leash, then you may need to switch to the more versatile “turn away” method. On the other hand, if you have a large dog who doesn’t quite know his own strength, stick with the leash method. It’s a matter of knowing which method will work best and sticking with it.
Dogs get tired, too. Short training time that ends on a positive note works best. Don’t have a guest go in and out a million times, because that won’t happen on a normal day.
Both of these methods are versatile in that they can be tweaked as needed. Ultimately, you know your dog best. Use the reward that will make them happiest, and use whatever method you think will be best for you and your dog.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright