Jumping up seems cute when your puppy is a little guy, but when he or he grows into an adolescent, puppy jumping on people can become more than rude. These juvenile delinquent dogs haven’t learned how to control their excitement, and can bruise, scratch or knock down owners when they launch themselves and plow into you with their paws and claws. With small dogs and young pups, these tips to stop jumping up can work.
But when your puppy reaches adolescence the dog often becomes rude out of testing limits (just like a human child), or the clueless baby doesn’t understand how to control impulses. Adolescent jumping up can turn into “nose boinking” behavior which can lead to broken glasses or even a bloody nose. Jumping up often combines with mouthing behavior where the pup bites and grabs at your hands, clothing or even (ahem) your buttocks in a drive by grab-tag game.
In most cases, the puppy doesn’t mean to be bad and it's simply how he plays. These puppy jumping tips can solve baby dog problems. When you’ve got a hard-case juvenile delinquent, a new approach can help. Each dog is different so not all work with every pup. Here are some of my favorite tips from a few of my dog behavior consultant/trainer colleagues to help cool your puppy’s jets.
10 Tips For Rude Jumping
- Keep It Low Key. Homecomings and departures are a prime time for jumping-up because puppies want to greet or stop you from leaving. Turning your back on some of these dogs actually revs them up even more, so instead try ignoring the bad behavior. “Ignore” means you make no eye contact, say nothing, and stand still like a boring zombie and offer no reaction for idiot puppy behavior.
- Dance Your Dog. When your puppy jumps up, grab her front paws and dance her around the room. Some pups hate this so much that’s incentive enough to stop jumping. However, with other pups that enjoy the “dance” it could reward the behavior. If this causes more intense mouthing and biting of your hands, try a different tip.
- Play A Game. Teach your puppy a conflicting behavior such as “fetch your ball.” She can’t jump up if she’s running to bring you her ball or other favorite toy. Just the name of a special game or toy—“go get your bear!”—can change the dog’s focus and redirect the behavior long enough for you to evade the jumping. With enough repetitions, your puppy will begin to associate your home-coming with “go find” instead of jumping up.
- Hide A Toy. For pups that ambush you and bite your ass-ets while playing outside, hide a toy or two in the back yard and ask them to “find” the toy. Bad weather can give puppies cabin fever when they don’t have adequate time outside to run off the energy. Mental stimulation can wear them out, too. Show your puppy a favorite toy and then roll it up inside an old towel and knot it to make a puzzle. Encourage the pup to un-ravel and get the toy. You can even tie the first toy-in-the-towel inside a second one for more of a challenge for relieving boredom on days.
- Practice Commands. A conflicting behavior—like “sit” when you come home—helps enormously. You’ll need to practice your puppy’s “sit” during calm moments first, and then ask for this polite behavior before you leave and when you arrive home. Guests will appreciate a polite “sit” when they arrive, too, and won’t appreciate your puppy leaping around and mugging them for attention.
- Cry and Yelp. Many puppies don’t know their own strength. When they jump up and you wave your arms and try to push them off, they may think it’s a game and grab and bite harder. Tell them it hurts the same way another puppy would, with a YELP! Lay it on thick, over act, and cry and sob like the pup has done major damage. Some tough dogs really get the message using this. For the out-of-control grabby ambush type of dog play, give him a taste of his own medicine and SCREAM (very loud but very short), and fall over “dead.” Don’t move, don’t say anything. Play dead for at least 15-20 seconds. The shock value may be enough to send a permanent message that such games stop all interaction, plus they hurt you—and playing dogs really aren’t interested in hurting you and won’t want you to cry.
- Body Block Noise Boinks. An anxious or playful pup may leap high and very rapidly and suddenly “poke” at your face with their nose. That can be triggered by leaning over top of them especially when they’re in a high-arousal situation like a homecoming or around other dogs. It may be a way for stressed pups to relieve their anxiety so be aware of situations that cause these behaviors. Dogs control each others' movement with their body language. Think how a Border Collie makes sheep move just by getting close. You can stop your pup’s jumps by stepping close to him just before he leaps. Cross your arms, and step into the pup’s personal space before he crouches to leap.
- Use A Drag-Line. This is a long leash that the pup can “drag” along the ground. When the pup approaches, before he can jump simply step on the line. That prevents him from jumping up. While you step on the line, don’t make eye contact or give attention until he stops trying to jump.
- Employ A Tie-Down. With a tie-down, you simply attach your drag-line to a fixed object like a fence, stair rail or other immovable object like an eye-bolt into the wall. This exercise uses the same principles as teaching the “wait” command only instead of closing a door or gate, the pup is confined by the leash. That keeps you safe from mouthing and claws, and prevents the pup from jumping up and grabbing. Practice puppy sits and downs, while you stay out of range. The puppy only gets rewarded with contact from you when he stays calm with all four feet on the floor.
- Recruit Help. Practice the tie-down exercise with several friends. Have them approach, one after another, and the pup only gets to be petted if he doesn’t jump. If he tries to leap, back out of range and say, “You blew it! Whoops! Too bad!” or something similar. Repeat the exercise ten to twenty times in a row, and the pup will learn the lesson.
For hard case pups, you may need to consult dog behavior professionals for one-on-one help. Special thanks to my colleagues: