One of the benefits of owning dogs is their fun, and playful personality. However, what should you do when this factor becomes a problem? How do you stop dogs from jumping on strangers? This can be a big problem when you do not have control over your dog. Especially when you own a large dog that could injure a stranger.
We will be explaining the reasons why your dog may be jumping up, along with how to stop it. There is no one solution, therefore we will be explaining the main preventative measure to consider. This will allow you to fight the right choice for you and your dog, so you can stop your dog from jumping on strangers.
Why Does My Dog Jump on Strangers?
There are two main reasons why your dog may run up and jump on strangers. We have simplified them here so you can deduce which one affects your pup.
The most common explanation for a dog jumping up at someone is to greet them. It is something that they have learned from a very young age, and that has been passed down from gray wolves to the domesticated dogs we know today.
In the wild, gray wolf pups will reach up to their mother when she enters the den, paw at her mouth, and lick her face. This is done in an attempt to get her to regurgitate food for them. Domesticated breeding has pretty much eradicated the need for this behavior, as breeders and owners wean pups when appropriate. However, jumping up to see their mother, pups will still use this as a greeting. This instinctual behavior has therefore remained, even if the need has since left.
You will see nearly every puppy performing this behavior to greet their mother, and then they continue to jump up when meeting people as they get older. It becomes a behavioral habit. Although it is very cute for a little puppy to leap for your attention, it becomes much less cute when a Rottweiler jumps up on strangers and children. Even if there are sweet intentions behind this act, it can be dangerous.
Although this is the less common explanation for the behavior of a dog jumping up at someone, it still happens. It is also not as uncommon as you think. During the training of your dog, owners will thoroughly praise their pets when they perform a positive behavior or desired trick. For example, you may be teaching your dog to sit, and when they do so correctly, you praise them excitedly. They will jump up, bark, and wag their tails while you say “good dog!” and reward them with a treat. From this point onwards, your dog will consider this a positive behavior to do in new exciting situations such as meeting strangers.
Dogs will associate your praise and that positive feeling with the action of jumping up. Therefore, you may have accidentally trained your dog to perform this. The training can also occur from general positive reinforcement, even not during training. If when you arrive home you excitedly greet your dog, they may begin to think this is acceptable and the proper way to greet someone. Your behavior and encouragement influences your dog daily, especially when they are in the sensitive periods of their life as a puppy and a young dog.
How to Stop a Dog From Jumping on Strangers?
There are a few different things you can do to stop or prevent your dog from jumping onto strangers and we elaborate upon them below.
Delay Greeting Until Your Dog is Calm
As positive reinforcement and association can play such a crucial role in encouraging your dog to jump up during greetings, counteracting this is a great way to prevent jumping up. By preventing your dog from greeting a guest until they are calm, this will positively reinforce a calm greeting and prevent them from jumping up over time.
If a guest is entering your home, locking your dog in another room is not the way to get them to calm down, they may even become more anxious. Instead, purchase a strong and comfortable harness and lead and attach them to your dog. Sit calmly with your dog in an area a little way from the door and get them to sit or lie down. When your guest enters your home, keep your dog sitting and close to you. Do not scold them, just calm them with affection and a soothing tone. Make sure your guest is calm and does not try to interact with your dog or making eye contact until they are calm. Once your dog has properly calmed down, approach your guest with them still on the harness and allow them to gently greet them.
Ignore Your Dog When He Jumps
By simply acknowledging your dog when they jump up, they are aware that this behavior gets them attention. Therefore, by ignoring your dog and encouraging guests to do the same when they jump up can prevent it from reoccurring. Once your dog has realized that jumping up will not provide them with the attention they are seeking, they will stop.
It is important to note that this method may not work well with very hyperactive dogs or those that can jump very high. High jumping dog breeds such as Pitbulls and Greyhounds may be able to jump up to your face. Therefore, even with ignoring them, it is quite difficult to avoid them, especially when they can cause you pain.
Give Your Dog Something to Carry in His Mouth
Sometimes a reinforced distraction can prevent your dog from jumping up. Some behaviorists suggest providing your dog with a toy or blanket to hold when they greet you, almost as a gift. This requires a little bit of training and patience. Firstly you need to find out what kind of toy or blanket your dog would prefer. Some prefer balls, but if they are heavy chewers then you may want to avoid tennis balls. Others prefer soft toys, squeaky toys, or even blankets.
In order to train your dog to bring you this, you have to first reinforce the idea that them bringing you this is a good thing. Begin by training them to hold the toy in their mouth and reward them with a treat. Next progress to them bringing it to you like a game of fetch, but leave it down on the floor and encourage them to bring it to you. Eventually, they will begin to do so at the door and this behavior can progress to guests visiting.
Dog Jumping on Strangers – FAQ
Here are the four most asked questions concerning dogs jumping on strangers so you can feel fully informed on the topic.
The best way to prevent your dog from jumping on other dogs is positive reinforcement. They jump on you because they are excited to greet you or meet someone else, not to frustrate you. Although punishing your dog and yelling at them can stop them, it can also cause fear and anxiety in your dogs as well as damaging their trust of you and humans.
When your puppy is jumping on another dog, take them off the dog, tell them to sit, and then allow them to carry on playing once they are calm. However, this is much easier to theorize than to put into practice as puppies are excitable and have short attention spans. If you can put them on the floor after jumping and distract them with a toy, this can redirect their energy.
This depends on your dog’s age and gender. However, the most common reasons are excitability, play, and a male trying to mount.
Usually, a dog jumping on other dogs is a form of play and you will see the other dog reciprocating it if they feel comfortable. Also, look for positive and negative body language signs to examine if it is play. When male dogs get excited, they may try to mate with a dog by mounting them, this is usually quite noticeable as they will be aiming to specifically mount the rear end of the other dog.
In order to get your dog to calm down around others, they need to be well trained. For those that have severe anxiety, aggression, or other reasons for possible negative energy, you may need to consider a firm harness and muzzle until the main issue has been combated.
Teaching your dog to sit and stay are very useful tools in controlling their excitability and behavior. If your dog is getting over excited, tell them to sit and stay until they are able to calm down. You can also teach them the command ‘slow’, to get them to calm down during a meeting. Make sure the meeting is encouraged gradually and they are gently held back so they have time to relax when it is needed. There is no time limit for two dogs to meet face to face
Gradual introductions and patience are the key for a calm and safe meeting for dogs. However, with any worries of aggression, we recommend consulting a professional behaviorist.
With two well socialized dogs, you have few worries, otherwise you will need to be careful. Rescue dogs and those with past traumas require special measures for meeting other dogs, especially if they show aggressive lunging.
Preventing your dogs from jumping at strangers takes patience, understanding, and usually some training. But with time, your pup will get there.