What could possibly be more adorable than a happy, bouncing puppy, amirite?
But most would agree that a bouncing 20, 30, or 50-pound adult dog is decidedly less cute.
Lots of puppies greet people by jumping. This is because dogs greet other dogs by sniffing each other’s faces… and other regions. When your puppy is bouncing like a fluffy little wind-up toy, they want to get up high enough to greet you properly. It’s no surprise that most people are happy to oblige their little ball of energy, scoop them up, and enjoy a few puppy kisses. But this becomes less cute with an adult dog. It might even stop being cute when they're still a puppy, like on those days when you only want to get through the front door without being accosted.
If you want to stop your puppy from jumping on you all the time (and you should), there are two things to understand:
- Your puppy jumps because they want your attention
- Your puppy keeps jumping when jumping gets them the attention they want
Tips to Stop Your Puppy From Jumping
The good news is it’s far easier to train a puppy not to jump before the behavior really sets in (you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s a lot harder and they’ll probably get paw prints on all your favorite shirts in the meantime). Follow these tips to stop your puppy’s unwanted jumping.
Great news: Your puppy loves you and they want your attention. Less good news: You have to be a little withholding with your attention. If you come home or enter a room and your puppy starts their trampoline routine, stare straight ahead and keep your hands out of reach. Don’t look at, touch, speak to, or do anything to engage with your puppy while they’re bouncing. Wait until they have all their paws firmly on the floor.
Reward Good Behaviors
Once your puppy stops bouncing — or anytime they’re behaving in the way you’d like — you are free to commence with cuddles and treats. Now that your puppy is fully on the floor, you can give them the attention and other rewards they crave. However, be careful not to get them too excited, as this might kick in their jumping instinct again. If that happens, go back to ignoring until they’re settled again. (Pro tip: This is also a good way to stop unwanted barking, by rewarding your dog when they’re calm.)
Remember how your puppy only wants your attention? That goes for good and bad attention. If you scold your dog for jumping, or even nudge them away with your knee, you’re still giving them attention and rewarding the unwanted behavior, even if you think that “reward” is punishment. Even worse, you could be teaching your young puppy to be afraid of you, which can be very hard to undo later in life. Being very clear and deliberate in what you want your pup to do and then rewarding them for doing it is a far better, far more effective, and far more humane way to train than scolding, whacking, dominating, or shocking them when they do what you don’t want. (Clicker training can be a great way to train and “shape” a multitude of desired behaviors!)
Start your puppy’s basic training early and practice with them often. Not only will this strengthen the bond between you, but it will also give them an outlet for some excess energy and give you some simple commands to immediately stop unwanted behaviors like jumping. When your puppy understands how to sit, you can combine the command with the tips listed above. This means that even when you say “sit,” don’t make eye contact or otherwise engage with your jumping puppy. Continue to ignore the unwanted behavior, but give either the verbal cue (“sit”) or a hand signal to get their butt on the ground. Once that puppy rump is firmly connected to the floor, praise them, give a few pets, and toss them a treat if you have one handy. (Another tip: Keep treats or their favorite toy by the front door so there's always a reward nearby that yourself and visitors can give your pup for good behavior.)
Spread the Word
It’s not just you that can reinforce your puppy's bad behaviors. Any person they come in contact with might inadvertently reward their jumping. If there are other people in your home, share this article with them and explain how to properly deal with your budding Cirque du Soleil acrobat. If you have guests coming over, let them know ahead of time how to properly greet your puppy. The sooner you instill these good behaviors, the better it will be for everybody.
Last but Not Least
Whether you’re teaching your puppy not to jump, bark, or any other naughty behavior, remember that everything you do is teaching your puppy something. Training is as much about how you behave around your puppy as how your puppy behaves around you. They’re constantly looking to you for guidance on how they should act. What are you accidentally or subconsciously "telling" your dog during those seemingly benign interactions? As long as you make sure those subtle signals encourage the good stuff, you’ll soon have a contented, well-behaved pup.