How To Stop A Dog From Jumping On People and Furniture?

12 Minute Read
Updated July 20, 2022

Do you have a dog that jumps? Dog jumping up on people is more than just bad manners, it can be dangerous. Find out how to stop a dog from jumping up on people, furniture, and more.

Your dog's bad jumping behaviour can be annoying and embarrassing, not to mention, it can be dangerous. If your dog jumps up on someone who is carrying something fragile, a small child, or a dog jumps on a person with a medical condition, it can easily damage or cause injury.

In this post, we will discuss how to stop your dog from jumping on people coming into your home, strangers, and furniture.


Why Do Dogs Jump Up?

Dogs jumping is very normal behaviour. However, that doesn't mean it's a dog behaviour you should accept and continue to allow. The reasons why dogs jump are quite simple, but fixing the behaviour can be a little more tricky.

To learn more about why dogs jump up on people, we asked Kristina Hampton, CTC, CPDT-KA from Raintown Dog Training:

Many of us dislike a cannon-like fur ball jumping up into our faces and punching our noses with slobber. But try to remember that face-licking is a natural, pro-social greeting in the canine world - much like a handshake or a hug!

As humans are vertical, with our faces high up, a pup will jump up in order to mash their faces into ours.  If you can train your dog a different way to get some face-time, everybody wins.

See our training tips for an alternate behaviour to jumping below.


Dogs jumping on furniture is also an annoying habit. If they're jumping on the couch while you're sitting on it, it's likely because they want to be close to you and receive some attention. But their furniture scaling could have other motivations.

They may be trying to reach food or get a better view out a window, or they might be trying to get some space from another pet in the family. Teaching better and safer habits starts with understanding why your dog is jumping in the first place.


Is It Bad For Dogs To Jump?


Now that you know why dogs jump, you might be wondering, what's the big deal? Yes, dog jumps might be annoying, but it's not hurting anyone, is it? Well, maybe not yet, but the potential for danger or damage is there. 

Aside from the fact that it's often considered impolite when your dog jumps, there are a few safety reasons why you shouldn't allow your dog to jump on people or furniture.

Your Dog Could Knock Someone Down

Dogs that jump on people are more likely to accidentally knock someone over, especially if they're a large breed. This could lead to injuries, both for your dog and the person they knocked over. Small children are also at a high risk of injury if your dog decides to meet them at eye level.

Your Dog Could Damage Your Furniture

Dogs that jump up on furniture are more likely to damage or scratch the furniture. This is especially true if your dog is in need of a nail trim. Depending on the fabric, their nails could tear the material. Or their nails could get caught in the fabric and break, which can be very painful. 

Dogs Can Be Dirty

Another reason you might want to keep your pooch off the furniture is that they're more than happy to lie on the dirty ground outside. They tend to bring dirt and debris to your couch or bed, which is unhygienic for you and requires more frequent cleaning.

Your Dog Could Get Injured

Jumping can also be hazardous to some dog breeds' health. For example, dogs that are more prone to hip dysplasia, spinal issues, and arthritis should be adamantly discouraged from jumping. This is because the added strain on their legs and back can contribute to injury or worsening of their condition.

Small dogs that jump up on furniture or counters could fall too. While it might seem like a short distance to you, an extra small or toy breed could easily get seriously injured if they land the wrong way. 

Most people are flattered to have a happy dog greeting behaviour at the door, but when jumping is in the mix, it makes the experience a little less enjoyable and a little more dangerous.

Breaking this habit won't happen overnight, but like any other type of dog training session, you can help your dog unlearn this nuisance habit and replace it with more positive and appropriate behaviours. 

Keep reading to learn about the four most common dog jumping behaviours and learn how to put a stop your dog to inappropriate dog jumping.


How To Stop a Dog From Jumping On Furniture


The best way to stop your dog from jumping on furniture is to not allow them on the furniture in the first place. This means not letting them on the furniture when they're a puppy, so they never learn this is okay behaviour, to begin with.

If you have an adult dog that's already allowed on the furniture and you're trying to transition them to not being on the furniture, it's best to start by not letting them on the furniture when you're home.

This means if dogs jump on the couch while you're sitting on it, you get up and leave the room. Likewise, if they jump on the bed while you're sleeping, you get up and leave the room.

The goal is to make it so that being on the furniture is not rewarding for them. Instead, you want them to associate being on the furniture with you leaving the room and not getting attention.

This means no petting, no talking, and no eye contact. If this isn't working, you'll have to take matters a little further and place objects on your couch or bed to make them unable to jump up.

For example, if you have a two-seater couch, put a big cardboard box or chair on the cushion you're not using. This will make them unable to jump up. Also, when you get up from the couch, you'll want another big box or chair to place on the other cushion you were using.

This is a less-than-ideal situation, but it will help break the habit as they physically won't get up. After enough time has passed when they haven't been able to get on the couch, they'll lose interest in trying and eventually understand the couch isn't a place for them to relax.

To prevent your dog from feeling neglected, try putting a comfortable bed dog, like a donut dog bed, near the couch so he can be close to you while you are relaxing. 


How to Stop Your Dog From Jumping on the Counter


Sometimes, your dog's habit of jumping on furniture in the house has nothing to do with getting close to you. Dogs that jump on tables, kitchen chairs, and counters are often less concerned with getting your attention and more concerned with getting your sandwich. 

Even if the food is safe for dogs to eat, they still shouldn't be consuming or chewing on anything that you don't give them, especially when unsupervised. Your dog could eat something toxic or choke. 

Here are a few things you can do to put a stop to this scavenging behaviour:

    • Don't Leave Food Out: Remove temptation by putting away open or loose food from the area that your dog is accessing. While it may not be convenient, keeping human foods tucked away in cupboards, containers, or the fridge will help to discourage your dog from jumping up to reach them.
    • Create a Barrier: Using cardboard or some other DIY barrier to the counter can also work to discourage this naughty behaviour. You can also remove access to chairs or stools that your dog uses to reach the counter.
    • Give them Appropriate Space to Climb: If your dog's motivation isn't food-related, then he may be getting on the counter to get a better view of his environment. Kitchen windows give a nice view of the yard or neighbourhood, so your dog may just be looking for a better vantage point. Give them access to better views with tools like raised dog beds or dog stairs.
    • Keep them Occupied on the Ground: By providing activities that encourage your dog to keep all four on the floor, you can help build better habits to replace the unwanted ones. Dog puzzle toys and snuffle mats are excellent tools for allowing a food-motivated or curious dog to express their natural foraging instincts.

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How To Stop a Dog From Jumping On People and House Guests

This is the most common type of jumping and usually the one the pet parents have the most trouble putting a stop to. A common method to discourage attention-seeking behaviour is to turn away and ignore your dog.

It will take time and lots of practice, but rewarding attention-seeking behaviours with attention(good or bad) is only going to make the problem worse. Discouraging bad habits is only one-half of the solution though. 

That's why we consulted with another expert from Raintown Dog Training, Rhiannon Van Lidth De Jeude Roemer, KPA-CTP, to help explain how to stop your dog from jumping to greet you by replacing unwanted jumping behaviour with a better, safer, and more polite one. 

Training a Polite Greeting

The best strategy for training out unwanted behaviour is to replace it with something you like. Teaching your dog a distraction-proof ‘sit’ as a replacement for jumping is a great option.

Step 1: Teach a Solid Sit

The first step is to ensure your dog can reliably sit on cue (this can be a hand signal or a verbal cue). Work on this indoors, where there are fewer distractions until your dog is quickly moving into the sit position when asked.

Step 2: Sit-Stay with Distractions

Once your pup is acing step one, you can begin to challenge them a little more. First, work on building the duration of the sit by withholding the treat for a couple of seconds before rewarding them. See if you can get to a ten-second sit-for-one treat!

Now you can begin to add distractions. Try dropping a treat on the floor while the dog is in a sit - if they stay seated, feed them an extra-tasty reward! You can also practice your ten-second sit while you have guests over and in new locations such as outdoors.

Step 3: Replace the Jumping

Now you can finally bring the training into the problem context - greetings. Begin asking your dog to sit each time you or another person would like to greet them. In time, your dog will likely learn that sitting results in pets, and they may even begin to sit automatically when they want attention (without you having to cue them)!

Be Consistent

When it comes to stopping a dog from jumping on people coming into your home, make sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone who lives in your home should follow the same steps and react properly to your dog's behaviour. This means praise and rewards for good behaviours, and ignoring or not responding to the unwanted jumping habits. 

As guests enter your home, make them aware of what is and isn't an appropriate greeting from your dog so that they know when it's ok to greet them in return.


How To Stop a Dog From Jumping On Strangers


This one is a bit more difficult as you can't control how strangers will react to your dog. But, if you're consistent with the rules you set at home, it will eventually pay off. If you allow your dog to jump on anyone who enters your home, they won't see a problem with jumping on strangers.

When you teach safe and polite greetings at home, your dog will learn to use those same greetings and behaviours in public.

Using the same 'sit' command you do at home, you can teach your dog to wait patiently for attention when a stranger is approaching. It's polite and common sense to ask before petting someone's dog, but not everyone will, so by initiating the sit command before the stranger approaches, you can help reinforce a better way of greeting people.

It's also great to have some high-value dog treats on hand when you are out in public with your dog. These kinds of treats are great for rewarding appropriate behaviour. Stick to your dog's favourite flavours and textures to really reinforce and reward appropriate interactions with strangers. 

This type of calm and polite greeting to strangers is especially useful when it comes to meeting children or anyone who may fall or be injured by a dog jumping at them. Good behaviours keep everyone safe.


What To Avoid When Your Dog Won't Stop Jumping

It is easier than you think to reinforce unwanted behaviours in dogs. The way you react to your dog may be intended to calm or curb the behaviour, but you could actually be encouraging it. 

Dogs learn patterns and behaviours quickly, and once it becomes a habit it can be hard to break the behaviour as quickly as it was learned. Here are a few common mistakes that may be sending your dog mixed signals:

  • Don't Get Physical: When it comes to training methods to teach your dog not to jump on you, you want to avoid being physical with them. This means no pushing them off you, nudging them with your knee, or holding their paws on the floor. Remember that any attention is good attention for an attention-seeking dog. Use your words, not your hands.
  • Don't Pick Them Up: Avoid picking them up when they jump. People often do this with small dogs because it quickly stops the behaviour, but by doing so you reward the bad behaviours.
  • Don't Repeat Yourself: It's a common habit to repeat verbal commands over and over again, when in reality, it's better to ask for a behaviour once and give your dog time to understand and respond. Saying sit repeatedly and increasing the volume each time doesn't help your dog understand. 
  • Don't Be Wishy-Washy: Consistency is at the core of dog training. Pick one command, one action that you want your dog to default to when asking for attention and keep your reactions consistent. If you have some rules for home and different rules for out in public, your dog is going to find it challenging to understand what behaviours you expect of them.

Check out Force Free Dog Training Tips for more information on training techniques for your dog using positive and safe training techniques.


Encourage Jumping When It's Appropriate

Jumping is a normal and instinctual behaviour for dogs, but it's the kind of behaviour that should have a specific time and place. If your dog loves to jump onto or over things, then incorporating jumping into their daily exercise routine can help them to safely and appropriately express this behaviour.

This can also help you draw clear lines between when jumping is and isn't ok. Using agility tools, hula hoops, or even toys during playtime can help your dog recognize the difference between jumping for fun or exercise, and jumping for attention or greeting. 

If you struggle to teach your dog to stop jumping, it might be time to consult a professional dog trainer. They can provide you with techniques and routines to help you train your dog effectively.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Why does my dog jump on people and furniture?

Dogs often jump as a form of greeting, excitement, or to get attention. Understanding the reason is essential for addressing the behaviour.

How can I prevent my dog from jumping on guests?

Train your dog with commands like "off" or "down," and practice these commands when guests arrive. Reward calm behaviour and discourage jumping by turning away from and ignoring your dog when they jump.

Is it necessary to provide an alternative behaviour for my dog to replace jumping?

Teaching an alternative behaviour, like sitting or staying when guests approach, can redirect their attention and energy away from jumping.

What should I do if my dog jumps on furniture?

Ensure your dog has designated spaces like a bed or crate, and use positive reinforcement to encourage them to use these areas instead of furniture.

Are there training aids or tools that can help stop jumping behaviour?

Tools like leashes, harnesses, or training collars can be used with professional guidance to teach your dog not to jump.

When should I seek professional help for my dog's jumping behaviour?

Consider consulting a professional dog trainer if your dog's jumping persists despite training efforts or becomes aggressive or problematic.

Hurtta Trick Pockets

Written by

Alec Littlejohn

Alec Littlejohn is the founder of Pawscessories. He grew up in a family of vets and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.


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