Dog Behavior - Jumping Up

We at Family Pooch care about the relationship between you and your dog.  Today we are starting a series of blog posts on doggie behaviors, what causes them, and what to do about them. The topic for this blog entry is Jumping.

Though it is a bigger deal with a big dog, even a small dog can be dangerous and annoying.   Unfortunately, like many dog behaviors, it is somewhat instinctual and is often accidentally encouraged.

Jumping up is a common and natural behavior in dogs. Puppies jump up to reach and greet their mothers. Later, they may jump up when greeting people. Dogs may also jump up when excited or seeking an item in the person's hands. A jumping dog can be annoying and even dangerous.

Why Do Dogs Jump Up?

Most of the reasons why a dog jumps up come down to instincts and access::  

  • Puppy Love.  Puppies learn jumping up at an early age.  They often jump up to reach and greet their mothers.  It is also a submissive behavior to their pack leader (which the mother is), so jumping up and licking lets the mother know that the pup wants food.  This submissive greeting continues on to their human parents.

  • Greetings.  When dogs greet each other, they will,  usually, walk up to each other face to face and sniff.  Since we are taler then they, to get at our face, they need to jump up.

  • Boredom/Anxiety.  Like most behaviors, if the dog has excess energy, or are bored, they will look for an outlet, and jumping up is one of those ways.

  • Stranger Danger.  Where this behavior can be seen as submissive, it can also be about exerting dominance on a new "member of the pack."  

What to do about it?

Lots of people will give you lots of advice on things you can do, but in general, it comes down to a couple of things.

Don't encourage them.  I know this sounds simple, but petting, playing or giving treats for the exuberant greeting, is just encouraging the behavior.  The best solution is to ignore your companion until he or she settles down, and then give them a reward.

Like before, an important aspect is to exercise your dog's brain and body.  Snuffle Mats and Snuffle Bowls are one way to train them to forage (most dogs need to be trained, so please see our blog entry on this).  Still, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise which will help with boredom and anxiety!   Take long walks, play, and enjoy time with your companion, especially just before you go away for a while.

For dogs who jump on strangers, it will take more training.  Keep tight control over your dog when the person is introduced (short-leash), and then distract them with a favorite toy.  As the dog becomes more comfortable with the person, they will be less likely to be jumped on.

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