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How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You

How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You

how to stop a german shepherd from jumping on you -positive training

Teaching your GSD to greet you in a calm way is easier than you think!

Ugh!  If I had a dollar for every time I hear this…

“Dogs jump to show dominance”

Or

“Dogs jump to test who’s in charge”

That’s absolute nonsense!!

The reason why dogs jump is because they want to greet us.

I mean why wouldn’t they when we’re smiling and saying “Hello!!”.

All that nonsense about dominance is why folks recommend silly things like leash pulling and knees to the chest.

Do you really want to cause your dog discomfort like that?

I’ll bet the answer is no.

So today I’m going to share my tips on how to stop a German Shepherd from jumping on you, or your guests.

How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You

The key to doing away with jumping is to teach your dog what you do want them to do.  In this case to come towards you and calmly keep all 4 paws on the ground.

I like to have my dog’s already mastered in the sit behavior.  It’s not essential, but it gives them an extra behavior they can offer instead of jumping.

But the main aim here is to set your dog up for success by showing them what you do want instead of what you don’t want.

The next step is to move away from your dog and click before they jump. Then treat them on the ground so that they’ll anticipate the treat coming from below and not above.

As your dog learns what you want you can delay the click until your dog reaches you and calmly sits or stands instead of jumping.  Here, sitting or standing is acceptable.

If your dog jumps, just take a step to the side.  All you want to do here is get their paws off you.  So it’s important for you to ignore your dog.  Stay calm and avoid rewarding their jumping by speaking like saying ‘no’ or ‘down’.

Now that you’ve shown your German Shepherd that you want all 4 paws on the ground when they come towards you, if they do jump and you ignore them, they have an alternative behavior.

So now that you and your dog have the basics covered the next step is to proof the behavior.

Proofing the Behavior

So What’s Proofing?

Proofing is teaching your dog not to jump up in all situations by setting up training sessions with jump provoking situations.

Why is Proofing Important?

Dogs are context bound.  This means, if they learn a behavior in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean they understand not to do it in the lounge.

It also means raising the criteria making the situations more challenging by adding jump provoking stimuli.

So by proofing, you take that behavior and teach your dog to apply it to other areas, people and situations.

How to Proof No Jumping

Proofing in different areas is pretty simple.  Basically, all you need to do is rinse and repeat the steps you originally followed.

This part goes pretty quickly because all you’re doing is showing your dog what you want in different places.

Proofing with more challenging criteria takes a little more work and creativity on your part.

You can work on your own, or you can work with someone.

To begin with, you’ll click and reward as you’re doing the jump provoking behavior. And once your dog is successfully staying calm and not jumping you’ll start clicking and rewarding after the distraction.

Remember the golden rule of dog training is to set your dog up for success.  If your pooch is getting too excited and failing go back a step to more calmer distractions.

Here’s a quick example of proofing at the front door…

Click and drop rewards on the ground as you open the door.  This removes the opportunity for your pooch to jump by keeping all 4 paws on the ground.

Greet your dog in an excited, happy voice and you can even add some physical touch here.  All these things excite dogs and that’s what you want so you can proof the behavior.

Remember to click and reward.  So it’ll look something like this…

Jump provoking behavior / no jumping / click / reward.

If your dog is doing well, raise the criteria even more by moving excitedly to and from the door.  Remember a happy voice!

If your dog does jump, just move to the side and ignore them. And then take a step back to more calmer movements and voice.

You can even pretend that you’re scared of your dog.  So try using body movements that a person who’s afraid of dogs would do.

Movements like quickly lifting your hands, making gasping sounds and even moving quickly into corners.

I like adding this step because dogs usually go into jumping mode when they meet folks who are afraid of them.  And they only do this because of those movements.  So exposing them to this proofs their behavior if they ever come across someone like that.

Adding toys into the mix is also a super way to proof behavior.  Keeping the toy out of your dogs reach while remembering the happy voice is the key here.  And then click and reward on the ground if your dog keeps all 4 paws on the ground.

One thing you really need to make sure you don’t do is ignoring your dog’s jump and then immediately reinforcing your dog sitting.

If you do this, you’ll teach your dog to get your attention first by jumping and then give you the behavior you want, which is to be calm.

How to Stop Your German Shepherd from Jumping

Quick Steps: How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You

  1. Teach your dog what you want them to do.  A sitting behavior works well.
  2. Move away from your dog.
  3. Click and reward BEFORE they jump.
  4. Always reward on the ground.
  5. As your dog learns, delay the click until your dog reaches you and keeps all 4 paws on the ground.
  6. If your dog does jump, ignore them and calmly step to the side.  It’s important not to reward them by saying ‘no’ or ‘down’.
  7. Proof the behavior in other places.
  8. Proof the behavior by raising the criteria with jump provoking situations.

Tip: To stop your dog from jumping while they’re still in training, keep them on a leash or in a play pen when you’re not able to work with them.

How to Stop a Dog Jumping on Guests

How to Stop a German Shepherd from Jumping on You - Greeting Guests

Teach your dog not to jump up on guests the easy way!

While some folks might think it’s cute, having a jumping dog is only cute until they knock someone off their feet.

And I get a lot of emails and comments from embarrassed dog owners who want to know how to stop their dog from jumping on guests.

So here I’m going to share with you the best way to teach your dog not to jump on guests and strangers.

The first thing you need to know about this training is that it requires a lot of management from you.  The point is to prevent jumping in the first place.

The second thing to know is that even negative attention is positive for a dog.

Yup, that’s right.  So even if you or a guest says ‘no’ or ‘down’ or even pushes your dog away, your dog sees it as attention.

And that’s rewarding for them.

And lastly, this training is going to take a lot of time and commitment from you to proof the behavior.

Managing the Greeting

Every time your dog jumps up, they are practicing the bad behavior.  And they’re learning that it’s rewarding.

So the first and most important step is to keep following the on-leash protocol, which we’ll get to in a minute.

This is where the management I mentioned earlier comes in.

But here you’re not just managing your dog.  You’ve got to be prepared to manage your guests too.

I mention this because a lot of people will just say “Oh, I don’t mind, I have a dog at home”.

Well, that’s great and all.  And if your guest doesn’t mind their dog jumping, that’s their choice.

But you want your dog to greet people appropriately, so in the kindest way possible, remind your guest not to encourage your dog to jump.

On-Leash Protocol

This is the most important step.  Without it, this training will not be successful.

If your dog is on-leash and not able to practice the jumping behavior in the first place, they’ll soon learn that sitting is just as rewarding.

If guests arrive unexpectedly, just ask them to wait a few moments until your dog is on-leash before inviting them inside.

I recommend not using a collar for this training.  If your dog is a strong jumper, they could risk hurting their neck or throat.

So I suggest something safe like a harness.

You could use a body harness that clips on the back around the shoulder area of your dog.  You can also use a body harness that clips around the chest area.

The one you chose depends on your dog.  But definitely go for a harness instead of a collar.

The idea here is to have control over your dog’s behavior and the leash will help you do that.

So stand next to your dog, drop the leash and step on it.  Make sure there’s enough slack so your dog is comfortable and not

Distance

So distance is key here.  So to begin with keep your dog at a comfortable distance from your guest.

Start at about 3 to 6 feet from your guests.  That’s roughly 1 to 2 meters.

Keeping a distance will help to keep your dog calm.  The closer you are the more excited your dog will become.

If your dog gets too excited, move further away to a place where your dog will sit calmly.

Say Hello

Invite your guest to greet your dog for a few seconds.  Then lead your dog back to you.  Move away and reward your dog for not jumping.

Keeping interaction with your guests in short bursts will keep your dog calm and prevent over excitement.

Keep in mind here that the message you’re trying to convey to your dog is…

Good Behavior = Saying Hello

Bad Behavior = Moving Away

Fading the Leash

Once your dog is not trying to jump anymore and staying in the sit position, it’s time to start fading out the leash.

But you’re not going to remove the leash altogether just yet.

Keep the leash on at all times during these greeting exercises.  But don’t step on it.

If all goes well, you can start testing greeting without the leash.  If your dog is not jumping give yourself and your dog a pat on the back.  You’ve successfully taught your dog not to jump on guests.

If your dog still jumps, go back and do some more work.

Is your puppy still biting?  Get a grip on puppy biting with these 4 fun games!

Are your dog’s chew toys safe?  Check out my recommendations for the safest chew toys.

20 comments… add one

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20 comments… add one
Sandra Murray

I have a female German shepherd she is 9months old we got her at 6 months old
Lord this pup will not listen can not get a leash on her to save my life
She jumps on us has cut my arms and back and legs and my husbands arms
I don’t know what to do she is a sweet dog and I don’t won’t to get rid of her
Plz help

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Sandra,

Thanks for your comment.

The first thing I recommend is teaching your girl to focus. And another thing that’ll help is to get a good understanding of why dog ‘go wild’ and end up not listening. This will help you to teach her to be calm and so make things like jumping training and leash training a lot easier.

In this article you can learn about how to teach focus and also about triggers and thresholds.

To get her used to a leash seems like the first step in getting her to be calm so you can put it on. Start by just showing her the leash and then marking any calm behavior with food rewards. If she noses it, licks it or interacts with it in any way that’s calm and positive then reward her. This is called priming.

I made a video on this where I teach one of my dogs how to interact with a new game. But the principle can be used for anything. In this article you’ll find that video.

So basically just replace the toy in the video with the leash.

Hope this helps. :)

Jenaya

I also find it utterly ridiculous that dogs jump because they’re exerting their dominance. Dogs jump because it’s acceptable behaviors in their language (dogs jump when their playing and greeting each other) and because they’re excited to see us. I also hate it when people suggest kneeing the dog in the chest when they jump and try to say “it doesn’t hurt them!” Um … no. They imply it is a neutral stimulus which is false as something that is neither reinforcing or punishing fades into the background and kneeding dogs is definitely not reinforcing. Great tips by the way!

Rosemary Dowell

Hey Jenaya,

Thanks for your comment. Scooter and Springy are super lucky to have you!

Mirela

Hi ,I have a8 month female German Shepherd when I take her on walks if she sees dogs or people she gets so excited she pulls and jumps plz help

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Mirela,

I definitely recommend using the techniques in this article to curb jumping.

I also recommend checking out my article on triggers and thresholds. It’ll help a lot in understanding why our dogs don’t listen sometimes and I’ve detailed how to teach focus which helps a ton when it comes to over excitement.

Also, you should work on desensitzing and counterconditioning. You can find out about this in an article I wrote on barking. The method will work perfectly for getting your girl to chill out around other dogs and people.

Jai

Hi. We just got our female last week (she’s 12.5 weeks). Our 5 year old is afraid of her because she jumps up on him & bites & nips his face & head. She’s just a baby, but how do we stop this? My husband is getting fearful about the top of the head biting (no blood drawn). Also, she is very watchful on walks & will observe new people for several moments before relaxing, but yesterday a strange man started approaching her & when he was 15 feet away she began lunging & growling & barking at him. I was so surprised that I just asked the man to stop where he was. She is also very nervous at night during potty trips, & will start pulling & rolling if she gets nervous. I want to enroll her in puppy obedience classes, but our vet said no until she’s had her last vaccine series. Do you have any insight or advice? I’m willing to try everything to help her be her best.

Thank you.

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Jai,

Thanks for your comment.

The first thing I recommend is to definitely start controlling any interactions between your son and your pup. So basically keep interactions supervised and if she gets to revved up, it’s best to separate them until she’s calm. If you can have a sectioned off area for your pup where she can be put if needed to calm down? I don’t like to use crates for this since it can be seen as a punishment. Rather a play pen or a section created with baby gates in ideal. She should still be able to see, hear and interact with the family but not be able to act out those behaviors on your son.

Also, check out these 4 games I recommend to teach bite inhibition. For young pups like yours I recommend the build-a-bridge game and the nose targeting game. The are the safest both pups and humans. The other games can be incorporated later once she understands that human limbs are out of bounds.

You can definitely begin with training at home before her classes begin. Check out my article on clicker training to give her a head start. And you might want to check out this online dog training program I personally recommend.

I hope this helps. :) Drop me a comment if you have other questions, I’m happy to help.

Terri

My GS jumps straight up when walking on leash. How do I stop this?

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Terri,

Thanks for your comment.

Has he been trained to walk calmly on a leash? Is he jumping up in reaction to something on a walk like dogs for example? These factors will determine what you need to do to fix the issue.

Let me know the answers so I can hep you with a more detailed plan. :)

Joshua Reynolds

What do you mean by “click” in this article?

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Joshua,

Clicking is from the clicker which I use to train my dogs. If you’re new to clicker training check out this article on how the method works. It’s a super way to communicate with dogs during training.

Hope this helps. :)

Betsy

I have 6 bordercollies , getting a shepherd about 8months. Fixed female neglected by owner.
Kept in basement caged. Not trained.
Ideas with training her , while 6 other dogs are around ?

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for your comment.

Thank you for opening your heart and home to her. She’s so lucky to have you!

Unless your other 6 pooches are well trained and are able to hang around chilling on their spots while you work with your new edition to the family, you should be okay.

But your best bet to make sure is to test out what happens if you try and work with her while the rest of your crew are included. If you find that she is struggling to keep focus or being distracted, you might be better off working with her separately, to begin with.

I train my dogs together, but usually, if it’s a new behavior I like to spend time teaching them one-on-one until they have the behavior learned and then I train them together.

Sheryl

A friend of mine has a German Shepard and she allows this 8 month old dog to jump all over guests and to jump in their cars . This dog does this every time I visit, including jumping in my car covered with mud. I have spoken to the owner but I have a attitude about her dog she says. Help

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Sheryl,

Thanks for your comment.

This is a tricky situation since some folks really think it’s okay if their dogs jump.

If I was in your shoes, I’d make sure that my vehicle’s door is closed immediately to avoid the doggo jumping in the car as a first step.

Then next, I’d keep treats handy whenever I visit there. As soon as you get out of the vehicle, and the dog is around, show him the treats and then start dropping them little by little on the ground as you walk. This will ensure that he keeps all 4 paws on the ground since it’s not possible for him to get the treats if he’s jumping up.

If the doggo does jump, try standing still and turning your face and upper body away from him.

These are some of the other ways I have taught no jumping and it does work well. It might even show your friend the value of training and get her interested in learning more about how to do this kind of training.

These tricks might not actually teach the dog not to jump since that will take time and constant work until he’s learned. If your friend continued with these methods and the others I’ve detailed, that would help him learn quickly. But they should help you to have a better experience when you’re visiting there.

Andrea Llewellyn

Hi Rosemary, I have had 5 month rescue lab cross german shepherd for a month. He is a lovely puppy but his behaviour when out in windy weather is crazy. Today at start of our walk he was fine. We stopped for coffee and water break. I might add he is very well behaved at these times. Walking home and for no reason he jumped and lunged at me, biting my clothes, even bite through my coat and broke skin on my wrist. Don’t mind telling you this scared me. I stayed calm, but only way I could prevent him was shortening lease and walking very quickly. He will “mouth” my hands at home and sometimes bite too hard. Other times stroking and holding him close stops this.. Help, have I taken on too much.

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Andrea,

Thanks for your comment.

Trying to pinpoint why rescue dogs act out in certain situations can be tricky especially if you don’t have much background information. But if he’s acting out in windy weather specifically, it could be something like he was left out in bad weather in his previous circumstances which caused him to develop an aversion to wind. Or he’s always been fearful of wind and no one noticed or helped him. But now he has you to help him! :)

Pups also go through fear phases and it’s usually around this age (5 to 6 months) they also have phases anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks and anywhere up to 18 months.

Some dogs are sensitive to bad weather and not only thunder and lightning but strong winds too. They also sense changes in atmospheric pressure, hence the reason dogs know when a storm is coming way before humans do.

It can also be difficult to desensitize dogs to bad weather. Because their fear response can send them way over their threshold and then it can be difficult to work with them. But it’s not impossible. Check out this article on triggers, thresholds and teaching focus. And if you’re new to dog training, check out this article on how to get started with positive reinforcement and clicker training.

So my advice is to keep a close watch on his behavior inside the house when there are wind, rain, and storms. Try to determine if the crazy behavior is just a response when he’s outside or inside too. Try to determine if is it a response to all types of bad weather or only wind?

Once you’ve determined if all bad weather or only wind makes his behavior “crazy” then you can start to desensitize and counter-condition him to the stimulus. There’s a good graphic I shared in an article on barking that explains this well. In this case, just replace the “mail van” with wind or bad weather. Here’s a link to that article. To begin with, you’ll need to start this inside the house so as not to flood him with whatever is tipping him over the edge. Then once he’s calm move near a window, then to an open window, then to a door, then an open door, then one step outside and so forth. Only move to the next step once he’s totally calm. If you find he tips over the edge on the next step, go back to where he was calm.

It might speed things up if you use a soundtrack with the sound or sounds that you have determined he doesn’t like. You can use something like this one off Amazon. It has thunderstorm sounds on it. But you should also be able to find specific sounds on the internet to download for personal use.

If you find that working with him on your own is not producing results chat to a holistic vet about natural calming aids. And perhaps consider enlisting the help of a positive behaviorist to work with you and your pup one-on-one.

In terms of biting and nipping, I’m pretty sure he’s never been taught a soft mouth or had any bite inhibition work done in his previous circumstances. So I recommend checking out this article on games that teach bite inhibition. And in particular, I recommend working on the nose targeting game with him. The build-a-bridge game will work well too. If he’s already bigger in size sitting on the floor might not work. But a low stool should work better.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions. :)

Dawn Jean Kaffenberger

My 14 month old German Shepherd is a rescue dog, she has had a litter of before we adopted her and she is spayed. She acts like she doesn’t know how to play, she will play with her toys by herself but not with you. We have tried everything she is very passive, any advice would be helpful

Rosemary Dowell

Hi Dawn,

Thanks for dropping by with your question.

This kind of passivity is not unusual for rescue dogs. It could be because she was abused or treated badly before you opened your home and heart to her. Sometimes when this happens to dogs they develop something called learned helplessness and essentially it means they lose confidence and are apprehensive to try anything new because they were yelled at or physically corrected before. And of course, many times rescue dogs are mistrusting of humans because of their past experiences. It could also be because she is a dog with a naturally lower drive, or because she’s never learned how to play with humans.

If you don’t know much about her past, it might be tricky to find out exactly what is causing this. But you can support her in going forward to learn new, fun and safe ways to interact and play with humans.

Have you started any clicker training with her? If you’re new to clicker training or you need a refresher, check out this article on how to get started. I found clicker training invaluable when I adopted Charley my GSD who also played alone and it took work to get her to feel safe playing with me. This kind of training is force-free, kind and backed by science and a good place as any to start. And especially with my girl Charley, it helped her to start trusting humans again and built her confidence.

Then I also recommend checking out a dog training program I used for Charley, Lexi, and Ze. The program focuses on tapping into your girl’s natural intelligence using games. The games start off simple so she won’t be overwhelmed and over time as she grows in confidence, you can start the more challenging games.

This method will build confidence, help her become a problem solver, be excited to try new things and at the same time teach her all the behaviors a dog needs to live in harmony with people and their environment.

I’ve written extensively about the program and had the privilege of doing a one-on-one interview with the dog trainer who developed the program. You can check out my review here. And definitely read the interview too since you’ll find some inspiration for you and your girl in Adrienne’s answers.

My advice is to work through the program at a pace your girl dictates. If you find her shutting down, stop and pick up again later. I learned with Charley that some rescue dogs shut down when they feel overwhelmed and then it’s best to give them a break until later. Look for signs like turning away, lip licking, curling up, low tail between the legs, or wide eyes.

Charley passed away last year and I was so proud of how far she came with the work we did over the years, so please feel free to email me with any questions, or drop them in the comments. I’m always happy to help where I can.

Rosemary

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