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One of the most common behavioral issues you may encounter with a dog is unwanted jumping.
While normal jumping up may not be that uncommon, especially because it’s a normal part of dog behavior unless they are taught otherwise, if your pup is suddenly jumping up on you there may be an underlying cause as to why they are doing that.
Dogs who suddenly jump up on you are most likely doing it because of a newly acquired training issue, but it can also be a result of excessive excitement, you smell different, or because you are carrying something the dog is interested in. Rarely is it because your dog is threatening you.
Below we’ll look at possible reasons your dog is suddenly jumping up on you and when the sudden jumping up may be due to a more serious underlying issue.
We’ll also discuss if it’s bad if your dog is suddenly jumping up on you and ways you can get your dog to stop suddenly jumping up on you.
5 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Jumping On You
Determining why your dog is suddenly jumping up on you can be dependent on the situation and what’s occurring in the moment, but there are a few more common reasons as to why your pup may suddenly be jumping up on you.
Reason #1: Your Dog Has Learned To Jump On You
If your dog did not previously jump on you, but you’ve found that he suddenly jumps on you whenever he sees you or because he wants something, then it may be that recently he was rewarded by someone for jumping on them.
This often occurs when someone unknowingly affects the training process by encouraging a dog to jump on them and then giving them attention or a reward, or when the dog gets so excited they jump on someone and are inadvertently rewarded when the person they jumped on either reacts playfully with them or attempts to push them off (which to a dog is the same as an invite for play).
Even if you yourself were not the one who rewarded your dog for jumping up, your dog will still attempt to jump on each and every person he encounters until he is taught otherwise.
This is one of the most common and likely reasons as to why your pup is suddenly jumping up on you, especially if they never really did it before.
Thankfully, this behavior is pretty easy to fix if you nip it in the bud right away, so if you suspect that the sudden jumping is due to a potential training issue you can reach out to a local trainer to help you fix it.
Reason #2: Your Dog Is Overly Excited
Sometimes dogs just get so excited or have so much pent-up energy they don’t know what to do with it and will “lose control” of their bodies, and begin performing random and repetitive movements or activities to try and displace the energy.
They may have the zoomies, they may begin playing with a nearby toy, or, more frequently observed when the dog’s excitement is due to the arrival of a person, they may suddenly jump up on you or another nearby person in their exuberance.
If the sudden jumping is due to excitement, then it’s likely the sudden jumping will disappear once the dog calms down, but during the bout of excitement, it’s important to be cautious as the dog may accidentally injure you or another, especially because many dogs opt to jump towards a person’s face when they are in a state of excitement.
If the sudden jumping is a result of pent-up energy or because the dog is trying to get out of doing something else (sometimes dogs can engage in these activities to postpone doing something they aren’t as interested in), then you’ll first need to address the root cause and make sure your dog is having their needs met and they have more appropriate outlets for their energy than suddenly jumping up on someone.
If the sudden jumping is due to excitement because your dog has not seen you in a long period of time or because something out of the ordinary but super exciting is happening, then it’s probably best to just let your dog enjoy themselves, even if it means a sudden jump here and there!
Reason #3: You Smell Different
If you return home from a place you may not normally go, you may have some new smells on you that are enticing to your dog, causing them to suddenly jump up on you to get a better sniff.
This happens frequently if you visit a place that contains fewer common animals (or at least less common to your pup), such as a zoo or a cattle ranch.
Your dog may also suddenly jump up on you if you had spent time at a vet clinic or animal shelter as you likely have a lot of different smells that have “stuck” to you.
A dog’s sense of smell is much better than a human’s sense of smell, so even if you don’t think you stink your dog may think otherwise and will suddenly jump up on you to investigate those smells further! That could even mean smelling your breath!
Reason #4: You Are Carrying Something Your Dog Wants
Your dog may suddenly jump up on you if you are carrying something they find interesting or that they want to have.
Bringing home tasty leftovers from the restaurant you just visited, your newborn home from the hospital, or the new kitten you just adopted are all possible reasons your dog may begin suddenly jumping on you. If you are teaching loose leash walking to your dog, you may also find your dog suddenly jumping up on you to try and grab at the leash you are carrying.
Most of the time this sudden jumping is just the dog’s curiosity as to what you are carrying, and as soon as they decide it’s not worth further investigation or if you instruct them otherwise, they will stop trying to jump up on you.
Other times, such as in the case of a dog suddenly jumping up to try and grab the leash during a walk, it’s more related to a training issue and will subside with time and additional training.
Reason #5: Your Dog Is Threatening You
While this reason is probably the least likely, it is still possible that your dog may be suddenly jumping up on you because they are trying to intimidate or threaten you, though this should not be seen as an act of dominance or your pup trying to be the “alpha” in the relationship but more a lack of understanding on your pup’s part about what’s acceptable with a person and what’s not when trying to get what they want.
This type of behavior is most often seen with dogs who have poor socialization skills or who lack frustration tolerance and impulse control.
While this type of height seeking behavior is normal in the social hierarchies of dogs and helps establish status and resource control among individual dogs, when done to humans it is usually because the dog is attempting to “force” his owner into doing or giving him something he wants, such as that spot on the couch or a piece of your sandwich. It is considered rude at best, and not an appropriate way to communicate a want or need.
This is especially true if the dog is also displaying other confident, highly aroused body language such as direct staring, stiff wagging of the tail, tense facial muscles, raised ears, and overall tense body.
If you suspect your dog is suddenly jumping up on you in order to intimidate you, it’s best to reach out to a local dog trainer to help create a training plan to teach your dog there are more polite ways of asking for something and to help work on the dog’s frustration tolerance and impulse control.
Punishing your dog when they suddenly jump up on you in this manner is not advised as it can make the situation worse.
Is It Bad If My Dog Suddenly Starts Jumping On Me?
Most of the time, your dog suddenly jumping up on you is not a concern and is more related to a training issue than anything else.
With a good and consistent training plan in place, the sudden jumping will most likely cease.
The sudden jumping can become an issue if the person the dog is jumping on is prone to injury or is afraid of dogs. Pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are all populations of people that a dog could potentially hurt if they suddenly jump on them.
Being mindful and in control of your pup and his behaviors when around people he could accidentally hurt is the best to prevent him from suddenly jumping up on them.
If your dog has arthritis issues or hip dysplasia, suddenly jumping up on someone could also be a health concern for them. If your dog has any sort of injury or bone disorder, stopping them as soon as they begin to jump up is the best course of action.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Suddenly Jumping On Me?
If your dog has been suddenly jumping on you, the first step is to try and figure out why they have begun suddenly jumping up on you.
If you were carrying something or you smelled interesting and your dog suddenly jumped, it was most likely a one-time occurrence, and you don’t really have to follow up with any training unless your dog engages in it frequently.
If the sudden jumping is due to a training issue or if your dog has poor impulse control, then teaching your dog not to jump (or to only jump on cue) is the best approach.
Using body blocks (such as turning your back to your dog and ignoring them) is the most efficient and effective way to discourage your dog from suddenly jumping on you. Making sure to reward your pup when they have all four paws on the ground (often termed “four on the floor”) is another way to encourage your pup to not jump.
These methods can be used whenever your dog suddenly jumps on you and are a quick and deliberate way of indicating to your dog that you do not want them suddenly jumping on you.
In addition to those two methods, you can also work towards making sure your dog’s physical and mental needs are met at all times so they don’t have any pent up energy that causes them to suddenly jump up on you or a guest, and in the long term you can also teach your excitable pup to go and grab a toy to show their excitement in a safer manner than suddenly jumping up on someone.
At some point every dog may suddenly jump up on you as it is a normal part of dog behavior, but if your pup has a good foundation in basic obedience and impulse control then it’s less likely they’ll suddenly jump up on you even if they get the urge to do it.
Most of the time the sudden jumping is a one-time issue, or it is easily corrected with some basic training.
Rarely is it due to a more serious underlying condition, but if you suspect it is a behavioral issue it would be best to discuss the issue with a local trainer.
Otherwise, the occasional sudden jump is nothing to be too concerned about!