Sunday Surgery: How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping Up At Guests

As a dog owner, one of the most embarrassing problems we can experience with our pet is when they jump up at guests, and worse- won’t stop when we tell them to. Not only can this make our guests uncomfortable, especially if they have a fear of dogs, it can also create an awkward situation and give the impression that we can’t control our dog’s behaviour.

In this week’s Sunday Surgery, we look at how to prevent your dog from jumping up at anyone who walks through the door, creating a much calmer and less stressful atmosphere when you have friends or family over!

Why Do Dogs Jump Up?

First, it’s worth understanding why your dog might feel compelled to jump at anyone who walks through the door. Some people dismiss this as a dog simply ‘being friendly’ or ‘showing affection’. In reality, however, this is rarely the case.

One of the main reasons that a dog will jump up at visitors is that he is attempting to demonstrate his authority and assert that he is the head of the household. By jumping up, your dog is letting your guests know that he is in charge and they are coming in to his house.

Another cause can be the way a dog has been trained since puppyhood. Most owners don’t see jumping as a problem when it is a puppy doing it- after all, they’re so adorable! So when a puppy jumps up at their owner, they are often rewarded with lots of praise and affection. The puppy will enjoy this, and associate jumping up at humans as a way to get attention and praise. Unfortunately, as they grow bigger  the jumping becomes impractical (especially for larger breeds), yet their association between the behaviour and attention stays the same.

Habits to Avoid

Aside from the above explanations, there are a few bad habits that you should steer clear of to ensure that your dog is on his best behaviour when people come to visit. Some of these habits can make his jumping worse, and undo a lot of your good work in training him.

  • Avoid over-excitement. When you greet your dog, it is important to remain calm. The calmer you are, the calmer he will be and you will avoid a lot of jumping behaviour.
  • Do not grab your dog or push him away. Doing this can cause him to jump up even more.
  • Avoid shouting at your dog when he jumps up at you or others. Shouting can make him scared or excite him further, causing more jumping and making control more difficult.
  • Do not knee your dog in the chest or in any way cause him pain or discomfort. This does nothing to build the relationship between you, can cause him a lot of distress and will not help you stop him from jumping up.

Training Your Dog Not to Jump Up

To stop your dog from jumping up at guests, you will need to teach him exactly how you want him to behave when greeting people- yourself included. The list below highlights some of the training methods that you can follow to train your dog to politely greet people:

  • Ignorance is Bliss. One way you can discourage your dog from jumping up is to completely ignore him when he does it. Whenever he jumps up, stand still and look ahead, avoiding eye contact with him. Fold your arms and calmly ignore him until he stops jumping. As soon as his front paws are on the floor, reward him by acknowledging his presence and calmly stroking him. If he gets excited and starts jumping up again, stand up straight and repeat the process.
  • Sit and Wait. If your dog has already been trained to sit on command, this can be a very useful method. As before, when your dog starts to jump up, stand still and look ahead with your arms folded. Give the command ‘Off!’ and turn away from your dog, before giving the command to ‘Sit’. When he sits (use your peripheral vision to see when he does this), turn and face him again, bringing yourself to his level and stroking him. If he begins to jump again, quickly stand and turn your back as you did previously, repeating the exercise until he stops jumping up.
  • Sit and Wait (Part 2). This method takes the previous exercise a step further. If your dog starts to jump when you enter the room, step back outside immediately and close the door almost all the way shut. Through the slight opening in the door, command your dog to ‘Sit’. When he sits, calmly walk back into the room and stroke him. If he starts to jump up, leave the room and repeat the process until he stops jumping.
  • A Little Help from Your Friends. When your dog has started to master greeting you politely, it’s time to get your friends and family involved to help complete his training! Discuss your objectives with them and make sure that they are aware of the process if your dog begins to jump: turn their back, leave the room and close the door. Now, begin the exercise by having them knock on the door or ring the door bell. Go with your dog to the door- commanding him to sit before you answer. When he sits, open the door. If he starts to jump, your friend will repeat the steps above and you’ll start again. If he stays sitting, your friend can greet him and stroke him calmly. Be sure to practice this a number of times with as many different people as you can.

To learn more about stopping your dog from jumping up, as well as over 100 other topics, check out Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer, which you can visit by clicking this link.

Do you have any more questions about stopping your dog from jumping up? Is there anything else that you’d like us to discuss in next week’s Sunday Surgery? We’d love to hear from you! Simply use the comments section below or send an email over to with your thoughts.

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