How to Stop a Dog From Jumping Up

Teach your dog to sit quietly for greetings, rather than jump on people.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #9

When you’re training your dog to greet politely and stop jumping up, it’s easiest to work with two people. One person will hold the dog’s leash. The dog should have plenty of room to sit, stand, or lie down comfortably, and to move within a radius of a couple of feet. The second person can be anyone your dog likes.

  1. With the dog’s human friend about a dozen feet away, the person holding the leash asks the dog to sit.
  2.  As soon as the dog does so, the dog’s friend starts to approach. Because the dog likes this person, the approach will reward the sit. And, because the dog likes this person, he’ll probably get up and move toward her.
  3.  At that moment, the approaching person stops dead, turns away from the dog, and retreats.
  4. The person holding the leash cues the dog to sit.
  5. As soon as the dog sits, the friend again approaches.
  6.  If the dog gets up, the friend stops and retreats again.

Usually, after two or three tries, the leash holder can stop giving the cue to sit. Instead, count to 5 slowly, in your head. Given a few moments to think, most dogs will experiment – what was it that got my friend to come closer? Eureka! That is the first step toward a dog who sits spontaneously in order to get people to approach.

More Jumping Training

The self-control problem isn’t solved yet -- the bouncier the dog, the more tries you’ll need. Once the dog holds his sit till his human friend has reached him, have a love party. The leash holder can tell the dog it’s okay to get up at this point. But if the dog begins to jump, the friend should instantly back away. Notice how simple and clear the communication is. The consequence of sitting politely is that someone you like comes closer. The consequence of jumping up is that she goes away.

Here’s a hot tip for bouncy dogs: keep the love party low-key, and drop a few treats on the ground – the dog can’t troll for smorgasbord and jump at the same time . Speaking of treats, the main reward for your dog in this training scenario is the chance to say hello. Feel free, though, to slip him treats as he holds his sit. You can phase out the treats over time. Also, any dog will find it easier to stay put if he’s had plenty of exercise that day. Finally, if your dog’s really having trouble, work on a sit-stay without the greeting component first.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).