Why does my dog jump on me? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among dog owners, and it can be understandably confusing.
There is almost nothing more frustrating to a dog owner than realizing that your dog has a jumping problem. Granted, this can seem innocent enough when they are little puppies. In fact, it can almost be tempting to think of it as ‘cute.’
But this quickly changes when the dog starts to grow up. In fact, where larger dogs are concerned, jumping can even be dangerous. It can knock people down, cause scratches from your dog’s claws, and/or be very irritating and embarrassing.
As a general rule, jumping is usually a behavior that you want to discourage.
Before you take action to stop your dog from jumping, it is important to understand why the behavior is happening to begin with. The fact of the matter is that your dog is doing this for a reason… and the better you understand that reason, the better equipped you will be to use healthy, productive techniques to help train your canine companion to know better.
Here are some of the common reasons why dogs jump, and what to do about it.
Dogs Jump to Say Hello
If you have ever watched dogs greet each other, you will notice that they usually go ‘face to face’ first. This is a dog thing. It is how they greet one-another and acknowledge the presence of another dog, especially if they are happy or excited to see the other animal.
With this being said, it is not so difficult to see why your dog would jump to greet you. They are jumping up to show you love, to say hello, and to express how excited they are that you have returned to them.
Dogs Jump to Show Their Dominance
Dogs use body language for a lot of their communication… and one reason for jumping could be that your dog is jumping to show their dominance.
Usually, your dog will see you as the dominant presence in the relationship. But in cases where this is not so, they may ‘jump’ up on you either because they do not respect you/see you as the boss, or because they are actually trying to assert their dominance and let you know that they are in charge.
This is obviously a more sensitive type of situation to handle—but with patience, practice, and consistency, you can once again reinstate your place as the dominant presence in the relationship.
This type of behavior can be difficult to identify. But in-general, you will want to keep an eye out for ‘unexcited’ jumping. It is pretty common for dogs to jump when they are excited—but if your dog is jumping to show dominance, they will be more likely to jump when you are either in their way, or when you have something that they want.
In other words, they will jump up on you to ‘force you’ to do what they want instead of jumping up on you for kisses and affection.
Sometimes, this kind of jumping will push you back, feel generally ‘unfriendly,’ or can even include a growl if you move into them or try to push them back.
If your dog acts aggressively or growls at you, it is always best to seek professional help—as this could be a sign of deep-set behavioral problems. It could also be an indicator of a dysfunctional relationship between you and your dog.
In any case, this type of jumping is important to identify and fix.
Dogs Jump When They Are Afraid or to Alert You
This is a less common type of jumping behavior, but it is one that is very important to try to pay attention to. Dogs sometimes jump when they are stressed out or afraid, as a way to either ask you for help or to express their discomfort.
This kind of jumping usually happens at weird times, when your dog usually wouldn’t jump. It can happen for a number of reasons. Your dog might be in pain, scared, afraid of a different dog, responding to a change in weather, asking for help, or letting you know that they need to go to the bathroom.
If you suspect that your dog may be jumping up on you out of fear, or because they are trying to alert you to something, it is important that you take a step back and try to figure out what they are saying.
There is likely something stressing them out, and the sooner you figure out what it is, the sooner you can help to sort it out so that things can go back to normal.
Dogs Jump When They Are Lacking Social Skills
Sometimes, dogs simply do not understand that jumping is a bad behavior. This can happen if your dog is under-socialized, stressed, doesn’t get out much, has not been trained properly, or receives mixed messages about what should or shouldn’t be done.
This is an example of how knowledge on the part of the trainer can make all the difference in the world. If the owner of the dog does not employ the proper teaching techniques, or if a dog is not allowed to socialize as much as they should, then this kind of problem is almost guaranteed to happen.
And in such cases, it is not fair to get mad at your dog. With the proper care and training, jumping due to a lack of social skills can be quickly remedied.
What Can You Do to Stop Dogs From Jumping on You?
Thankfully, this is not a new problem. And if you have been asking yourself “why does my dog jump on me?” you will be happy to learn that there are actually a number of different things that you can do to help sort it out.
Here are some tips to help.
- Figure out why your dog is jumping. Are they jumping to say hello? Are they jumping to alert you? There are a number of possible explanations, so pay attention to your dog’s behavior and try to diagnose it accurately.
- Do some reading and some research about the topic. You can never know too much about dogs. Reading a book on the subject, or even a few articles, can do a lot to help equip you for training your dog the right way.
- Make sure that you spend enough quality time with your dog. Learn about him/her, and figure out how he/she normally acts. Once you know what to expect on a daily basis, it gets easier to diagnose problems and troubleshoot different behaviors.
It is important to remember that every situation is a little bit different. If your dog is jumping up on you, try to figure out why—and then go from there. But here are some tips for how to handle more general types of jumping behavior.
Obviously you need to handle different situations a bit differently. But in a general sense, here are some basic guidelines to help you navigate this challenging issue with your favorite canine companion.
If Your Dog Is Jumping to Say Hello…
Solving this jumping habit is simply a matter of training. To put it simply, you just need to teach your dog better. You obviously need to start with a plan. One method that some trainers use helps the dog to distinguish between the commands ‘hug’ and ‘off.’
You use treats to train them to jump up and ‘hug’ you when you want them to, and then make sure that they understand that ‘off’ means that it is time to get down. When telling them that it is time to get ‘off,’ you should move INTO them, pushing into them with your body (but do not push them with your hands). You should conduct this training when your dog is calm, so that they can pay better attention to what you want.
If you don’t ever want your dog to jump up on you, then you should simply teach him/her the ‘off’ command.
Make sure to use a strong, firm voice. And remember, this takes time. Your dog may or may not pick up on it quickly, but be patient and consistent. You must ALWAYS tell your dog ‘off’ and stick with the same verbal command whenever your dog jumps for this to work. Inconsistency confuses dogs.
If Your Dog Is Jumping to Show Dominance…
This situation is a bit more serious, but it is still important to get it figured out. The first step is to build a foundation of respect with your dog. You need to be consistent and perseverant, but remember that your dog NEEDS this time with you if he/she is going to overcome this problem.
A few ways to start this process now is to…
- Start making your dog wait at every doorway. Whenever you cross a threshold, you can tell your dog to wait and let you cross first, indicating that you are claiming the territory and are in charge. If your dog tries to dart ahead of you, use your leash to stop them.
- Have your dog wait to eat his or her food until you give them permission.
- Start working on ‘backup’ exercises, where you move into your dog and have them back away from you.
These types of activities take a lot of time, patience, and practice. But your dog needs them… especially if they do not respect you.
If Your Dog Is Jumping to Alert You…
If your dog is jumping out of fear, or to alert you of something, there is probably no need to try to train them not to do it. If your dog jumps for other reasons, such as to say hello or to show dominance, then yes… training is probably necessary.
Your dog cannot talk to you. Therefore, he/she only has a few tools with which to communicate important things… and jumping is one of them.
If you know your dog well enough to know why they are jumping, then just try to fix the reason for their ‘alert jumping,’ and then be done with it. There is no need to train them for jumping when they are only jumping to let you know that something is wrong.
If Your Dog Is Jumping Because of Poor Social Skills…
If you feel that your dog may be under-socialized, then it is important that you address the problem.
But with that being said, this is admittedly a hard problem to remedy. In fact, this is one of the most difficult jumping problems to solve. Dogs who are under socialized might be so overstimulated at times that they can have a difficult time focusing on you or what you are saying.
Here are some tips for helping to turn this problem around.
- Use a leash for training, as this will help a lot
- Use treats to get your dog’s focus back on you
- If your dog is getting overstimulated, take them away from the situation
- Once they have calmed down, bring them back into the situation… but try to help them keep their focus on you
- From this point, teach your dog as you would an excited dog… using ‘hug’ and ‘off’ as command words to make them understand what you want
Where Can You Seek Help If You Can’t Get the Problem Fixed?
If you cannot get the problem solved on your own, you may need to find a professional dog trainer in your area. You could also sign up for local dog training classes. Your local veterinarian should have information about this if you cannot find it any other way, but a quick Google Search in your local area should yield plenty of relevant results.
Why does my dog jump on me? This question can be a confusing one to answer. But thankfully, with some patience, effort, and a little bit of information, you can actually do a lot to get it sorted out and get your dog back on the right track.