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Why the dog jumps on people and what to do about it [behaviorist recommendations

Why does the dog jump at people?

Surely each of us has met or seen a situation when a dog jumped on a person with its front paws. Do you know what the dog means by that? How should we react in such a situation? Was it aggressive behavior or, on the contrary, only positive emotions towards people? Read the article below to find the answers to these questions.

  • Why dogs jump at people?
    • It's great that you are! - happy greeting
    • Oh, it's gonna be a walk! - over-excitement
    • Hello! I'm here! - the desire to get attention
    • You better stay out of here - insecure or fearful
    • I'm afraid, help me - fear of some stimuli
  • How to deal with jumping?
    • A way to be greeted with joy, over-excitement and attention
    • Give the dog an alternative (play or other activity)
    • Ignore jumping and give your dog attention when he is calm
    • Just crouch down
  • What to Avoid During These Exercises?
  • Insecurity, fear or anxiety
  • What not to do when a dog jumps at people?

Why dogs jump at people?

Dog jumping on people

There may be several reasons for this behavior, although it can certainly be said that dog jumping at people is quite common. You have certainly experienced or seen a dog jumping on its guardian more than once. When analyzing behavior, it is always necessary to determine exactly what is causing it on people and what emotions accompany the animal. If you skip this element and go straight to choosing ready-made solutions, most likely your actions will not bring the desired result. Behavior to be repeated by an animal must be of some benefit to it. In this case, it is necessary to consider what emotions and benefits the dog experiences from jumping on people and why this behavior repeats. Below we will look at the different cases one by one and evaluate the reasons for this behavior. In the following paragraphs you will learn how to proceed in each case, although these are not strict rules - each case is different and you need to adjust the solution accordingly. At the beginning, however, we will deal with finding out the reasons for this behavior.

It's great that you are! - happy greeting

A joyful and exuberant greeting is by far the most common reason a dog jumps at people. They can be household members who have returned from work, guests, but also newly met people or even completely unknown people. It is a way of showing joy and sympathy, which means that in this case the dog is accompanied by positive emotions. Why do they just jump and not sit down, for example? The simple explanation is simply the difference in height - they want to be as close to us as possible, maybe lick our face. In the event that we are facing the easiest solution to this problem by the dog is to jump on us, resting two on our body, which is much higher than, for example, at knee height. Additionally, the dog cheerfully greets you with a new emotion is excited and simply spreads it with energy, and the seat is static, so it prefers to jump on us rather than sit next to us. Is jumping at people an attempt to dominate?? Absolutely not. Is it dangerous? It depends. Everything is related to the breed - the larger the dog, the more dangerous it can be to jump and the reaction of people, especially unfamiliar. This can be especially dangerous for the elderly and children. Do you have to unlearn this dog? In this case, it also depends on the situation. From a behavioral point of view, if you, your relatives and the people you meet do not mind, you do not have to. Personally, however, if your dog greets very energetically, I recommend that you work on it. We never know if a dog will jump too hard on a stranger and hurt him, or if a new friend is not afraid of dogs. There is no need to unlearn this dog, but it is definitely worth it.

Oh, it's gonna be a walk! - over-excitement

I very often encounter situations when a dog hears the magic word "walk " or sees the handler pick up a leash, he is so excited and happy that he can jump on people. In this case, the dog is accompanied by very similar emotions as in the above point (happy greeting) - the dog is happy that one of the most anticipated moments of the day will come soon. Often our dogs are not able to keep their emotions in check, so they run and sometimes additionally jump. This can happen again under many circumstances, such as when it is time to feed, although it is very common before the walk. As in the previous point - there is no strong need to correct this behavior, but I highly recommend it.

Hello! I'm here! - the desire to get attention

Dog jumping on people can also be a way to kill boredom. Sometimes our pupils do not have the right amount of activity or tenderness, and by jumping they manage to attract human attention. It often happens that such dogs have unmet natural needs, including not enough walks or their poor quality leaves much to be desired (so-called "quick pee and home" walks). A dog that is bored finds a way to entertain itself, and jumping and hitting people is one of them. In addition, you must know that even if you react negatively to harassment, the dog may already get what he wanted, which is attention. The mechanism of action is very similar to our human - as in the case of children - negative attention may be better than lack of attention. Through this behavior, the animal may want to tell you something, e.g., that he has too little activity during the day, so it is worth considering why the jumping repeats and how to counteract this behavior.

You better stay out of here - insecure or anxious

Jumping at people is not always associated with pleasant emotions and joy. It can sometimes be unpleasant, such as insecurity or fear or even anxiety. The key is to evaluate your dog's emotions before, during and after the jump. To do this, look at your dog's body language and facial expressions. If the dog is watching people carefully before jumping and his muscles are tense, it is a sign that he is stressed and something is wrong. Such jumping may be an attempt to block the passage, preventing guests from entering the apartment or the property. This can happen despite the lack of other signals, e.g. growling and other aggressive behavior. In this case, it is imperative to take action. Ignoring this behavior and allowing your pet to display it can have negative consequences in the future. The dog can become more and more nervous about the presence of people and at some point start to switch to more emphatic signals such as a growl or even a bite.

I'm afraid, help me - fear of some stimuli

It may happen that the dog jumps on its handler while walking. In this case, it is also essential to look at the dog's body language. It may be a sign of excitement (as in the point above), but it may be related to stress and a sense of threat. If you see your dog jumping on you with signs of stress, pay attention to what is happening right now. See if there are any dogs walking, maybe a car was driving, for example a noisy excavator. Or maybe some other dog is barking terribly behind the fence? It is very important to find the reason for this behavior. Such jumping on a walk can be a signal that the dog is afraid of something and simply does not want to continue walking in a given direction. Again, don't ignore this behavior. Read on to find out what you can do in this case.

How to deal with jumping?

If you already know why the dog jumps at people, you can think about it and choose the right solution. Remember, however, that there is no middle ground. One solution may work for one dog and not for the other. If, despite your best efforts, the unwanted behavior persists, be sure to contact a qualified animal behaviorist or zoologist. Such a specialist will surely provide you with appropriate tips on working with a dog in order to eliminate undesirable behavior.

A way to be greeted with joy, over-excitement and attention

In this paragraph, I will describe possible applications to the first three possible reasons for jumping at people. Keep in mind, however, that not all of them may be appropriate. Every dog ​​is different, every situation is different, so you need to observe your pet and choose the right solution.

Give the dog an alternative (play or other activity)

A dog who has been saying hello to everyone by jumping and has been allowed to do so, completely does not understand the situation when at some point the keepers get angry about it. The key here is clear communication. You need to know that allowing a small dog to jump will make him continue this behavior when he grows up. In such a case, it is best to simply prevent it and not allow such behavior from an early age. If your adult dog is jumping, it's too late to unlearn it? Absolutely not. So what can you do?

One solution is to propose an alternative behavior, that is, something in return. The idea is for the dog to be able to redirect his emotions to something else. A moment of play is an example of such behavior. It's a good idea to stretch out for a few moments or play together, ideally if you teach your dog to greet you right away with the toy beforehand (or we can have it with us). Thanks to this, the dog's emotions will decrease, the dog will feel satisfaction after playing, and additionally, the relationship with the handler will be strengthened. After the game is over, the dog should feel satisfaction, so after playing, it is worth having some flavors nearby, which we will exchange for the toy after finishing the joint activity.

In dog training, an exercise is often practiced in which the dog is to execute the command "sit " when the guests enter. However, this is a bit more difficult matter, the whole learning process is quite lengthy and the dog has to be cooperative. However, what is crucial in this task, you also need to release the dog from the command, i.e. give a signal that he no longer has to do this task. For this it is worth using, for example, the word "end ". Start with simple tasks - ask the dog to sit still for a second or two Then increase the time and start practicing in different distractions and places. Slowly increase the difficulty level - ask the householder to go home and come back after a while. The dog shouldn't be that excited, so he should be able to hold on to the command. For every good performance, praise the dog and reward them with flavors. If the dog is unable to sit still, ignore this and back up a few steps earlier. When the dog is able to calmly greet the family, in the next stage you can invite new people while exercising with the dog will remain in place. Give your dog a command for the guests to leave and when they come in. However, such an exercise is often very difficult for dogs to perform. It all depends on the dog's personality and willingness to follow commands. Some are just so excited that they can't divert themselves from their running and jumping activities to sitting. That is why I recommend these exercises to dogs that are willing to exercise, cooperate with people and are not that emotional.

You can also use another behavior, task or command to practice. It may be a search command for a toy, e.g. "Find a teddy bear " - of course, the dog should be taught this behavior early. From experience I can say that in the case of dogs that are very exciting and emotionally reacting to guests, dynamic activities, such as playing, looking for toys, are more effective than static activities, such as sitting down.

Ignore jumping and give your dog attention when he is calm

Why is the dog jumping? To have attention. What if he doesn't get this attention? This will be a signal for him that jumping is not bringing the expected results. One solution to excessively jumping is to ignore a jumping dog. Ignore your pet, turn your back or side. Do not make any sounds, additionally you can fold your arms over your chest. If the dog runs up from the other side, turn around again. Wait for the dog to calm down. If such ignoring does not work, you can also leave the apartment. If a dog jumps on you when you enter the house, just turn around and go outside or into another room. Come back when the dog calms down. When all four paws of your pet are on the floor, then turn to him and say hello. If it jumps up again, repeat the ignore. Another way is to completely ignore the dog for a few minutes after arriving and only after about 3-5 minutes to say hello to the dog, when it is calmer.

Importantly, do not speak to your dog while ignoring them during these exercises. The point is that even if you say "You mustn't ", "Don't jump ", "Finish it ", contrary to appearances, you are also paying attention to the dog! The dog hears you and knows that you are talking to him. The exception is when you say a short corrective command "no " at the time of the jump, which will make the dog know that he did something wrongly.

Just crouch down

As I wrote before, one of the reasons for jumping on people is the desire to be closer to the caregiver's face (not his legs)!). Sometimes it is enough to just crouch and give a short, quiet greeting. Thanks to this, the dog has no reason to jump, because we are at his level. It is also helpful to say the command "end ", indicating that the time to say hello is over, and then we get up and go about our business without paying attention to the dog. I know at least a few dogs that have been helped in this way, especially small breed dogs.

What to Avoid During These Exercises?

While exercising, do not make it difficult for your dog to perform a task by talking to him emotionally. If you are very excited and you talk to the dog in an elevated, happy tone, don't count on the dog willingly to sit down. If you are working on behavior change, you need to help the dog - talk softly, quietly to him, or limit speaking in favor of gentle touch. Our behavior affects dogs very much.

An example would be a friend of mine who has two dogs and lives in a house with a garden. After returning home and parking the car, he starts shouting from the garden to the two dogs that are at home at the time: "yes, I'm already! ", " Hello beloved dogs ". Already this behavior strongly winds up her charges, who at this time begin to bark at home (you can hear them in the yard). Entering the house, she also cheerfully calls her dogs, while welcoming them lively and letting them jump on each other. My friend, however, would not call it "undesirable behavior ", because she herself likes this ritual of greeting ?

I have given this example to show how much our reaction can influence the behavior of our animals. Therefore, if for you jumping and a spontaneous greeting are undesirable, do not additionally stimulate your dog, but talk to them calmly.

Avoid doing the exercises alone. Practice with other people as well, otherwise the dog may learn that you cannot actually jump on you, but you can jump on others. By engaging other household members, friends and family to exercise, you teach your dog to behave properly, regardless of who comes.

Insecurity, fear or anxiety

In case dogs jump at people out of fear, anxiety or insecurity, I advise against acting on your own. It is best to enlist the help of a qualified animal behaviorist. The specialist will help you find the right solution and advise you on how to work on increasing your dog's self-confidence. It is very important to identify the specific situations in which the dog reacts to guests in this way. The reason may not be the mere presence of guests, but the specific behavior of incoming people - gestures, way of moving or speaking. Often adequately instructing the handler how the guests should behave is enough for the dog to regain self-confidence and accept the presence of other people.

When jumping for a walk, the easiest way is to avoid stressful situations for the dog. Do not try to "face them" on your own as this can make the situation worse. First, find the reasons for this behavior, where and when it is particularly severe. It is possible that the dog is afraid of a specific dog passed by a fence, some street (because, for example, a loud garbage truck once passed there). Try to vary walking routes. If the dog jumps at you out of fear, learn to read the signals it sends, react and when the sign that the dog is afraid, just respect it and go in a different direction. This will strengthen your bond, because your pet will feel safer. If you do not know what causes this reaction and how to work with your dog, also consult a specialist who will provide the necessary advice.

What not to do when your dog jumps at people?

You've probably heard of other "quick " methods of teaching your dog not to jump at people. One of them is stepping on the dog's hind legs (the ones on which the dog rests on the floor), squeezing the front legs (which are based on the human), or correction by pulling the leash. Do NOT use these methods! Below, I will give you some reasons why this behavior is harmful and what negative consequences it may have.

First, it can be dangerous for your dog. Stepping on the hind legs, squeezing the front legs, or pulling the leash forcefully can damage the animal's body. In addition, it causes negative emotions because they are associated with pain, and yet we do not want to inflict suffering on our pupils. Such actions can also lead to learned negative associations with the people who reacted in this way. What's worse, it can even lead to fear, anxiety and aggressive behavior. If you teach your dog not to jump with a leash, you only teach him to do so when he is on a leash. Most dogs are not leashed around the clock, so the chances of this behavior occurring when the dog is not on the leash are enormous. Moreover, all of these methods worsen the relationship with the caregiver. The dog feels pain, fear, is afraid of negative consequences. It may not actually display this behavior, but it's due to fear and fear of negative emotions, and that's not what relationships with our dogs are all about. We all want our relationships to be as good as possible, so don't use such solutions.


Dogs can jump at people for many different reasons. Your task is to recognize the causes and emotions behind them. If there are positive emotions associated with it and the behavior does not bother you, you do not have to do anything about it, although it is definitely worth changing. Otherwise, if your dog is in fear, insecurity, and insecurity, act as soon as possible. If you are struggling, enlist the help of an animal behaviorist who will definitely help you solve this problem.

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