Jumping up: encouraging your puppy to keep four paws on the floor!

By Jessica Colson | behaviour, puppy, development

Why do puppies jump up?

You puppy is likely to jump up when trying to get your attention or when they are excited to see you. If jumping up is rewarded then it is more likely to happen again! We often inadvertently reward jumping up in puppies because it is not a problem when they are so small and cute. But it can be very confusing when our puppies grow up and start to get a different reaction! It is therefore best to be consistent with you puppy from day one: if you don’t want them to jump up when they are fully grown, this is something that you should start training as early as possible!

Simply stopping any reward for the behaviour is the safest and most effective way of dealing with jumping in the long term. Rewards to your puppy can be as insignificant as looking at them, talking to them or touching them, all the things you might do when trying and discourage your puppy to jump up by pushing them away or asking them to get “down”. Because dogs crave our attention so much even attention meant as a discouragement might actually be a reward to your puppy. In addition, telling them off may make them worried. Although this may work to stop your puppy in their tracks, may make their behaviour more intense and could contribute to other issues in the future

So how do I teach my puppy not to jump up?

We need to teach puppies that having all four paws on the floor is what gets them our attention, instead of jumping up. To do there are 2 simple steps:

  1. Ignore jumping up - don't react at all!
  2. Reward when all four paws are on the floor with praise/attention!

In order to be successful in your training you need to apply the two golden rules of dogs training: consistency and timing.

If you are consistent your dog will quickly learn what does and what doesn’t work to get your attention. Without it your dog may get confused and try everything to see what works best. To get consistency make sure everyone in your family is on board with training and coach any visitors who may interact with your puppy before they arrive!

Timing your rewards – in this case your attention – will make the difference between your puppy learning two different things. Make sure you only reward your puppy only when all four feet are on the ground and withdraw your attention whenever they jump up. You will feel like a Yo-Yo to begin with, but if you can be consistent it wont take long for your puppy to learn!

It might get worse before it gets better

When something has previously worked but then suddenly no longer works, puppy is likely to get frustrated and try harder before they realise that things have changed. Be prepared to see your puppy try harder with jumping up before they learn that keeping their paws on the floor is the best way of getting your attention!

So, remember the top tips for managing jumping up:

  • When your pup jumps up it’s important to not make a fuss of them – in fact you need to not react at all! Over time, this will show your dog that jumping up does not result in attention.
  • When your puppy returns all four paws to the floor, reward them with praise and attention.
  • Consistency is key, so make sure everyone in your family is responding to your pup’s jumping in the same way, and let any visitors know about your training.
  •  While your puppy’s learning, they may try jumping up even more out of frustration. Be patient, this is just a short-term phase. Your pup will soon learn that keeping their paws on the floor is the best way to get your attention!

An extra note for scared puppies:

Most puppies jump up simply because they are happy to see people and want to say hello, however your puppy may also jump up to ask for your attention if they are feeling worried about something! If you think your puppy is jumping up to get your attention because they are feeling scared (for example due to a dog approaching, or being in a busy environment) it is best to give them your reassurance in that context and get them away from the scary situation if possible! See our ‘understanding your dog’ page for some advice on recognising and responding to fearful dogs!