Why Do Dogs Jump on You and Other Objects?

Dogs jumping is a common (and sometimes embarrassing) behavior that you may frequently encounter with your own dog. They may jump on other dogs, on stuffed animals, or even on your furniture. Sometimes, they may even jump on you! So, why do dogs jump like this?

1. Why Do Dogs Jump on You?

Jumping and bumping is a behavior that seems to have a natural sexual undertone. However, this is not always the case. Jumping is a part of a dog’s instinctive behavior, and it is completely normal for them. This behavior only becomes an issue when they start to attach themselves to your leg and jump, bother other dogs, or jump continuously.

a. Sexual / Hormonal

A young, energetic male dog may jump and hump other dogs due to hormones and sexual attraction. When both dogs are of age and in heat, mating is a natural occurrence. When a dog is jumping due to sexual motives, it will be accompanied by courtship behaviors. Sometimes, an excited dog may also jump and hump a neutered dog.

Dog Mating
Dog mating behavior

It’s not just male dogs; sometimes, female dogs also exhibit jumping behavior. When a dog jumps and humps an object or even a person, it can be a form of masturbation. Spaying or neutering can help address the issue, but some dogs may develop a habit and continue jumping even after being neutered.

b. Excitement

Sometimes, excitement or stimulation (unrelated to sexual reasons) can cause a dog to jump. Your dogs can quickly become so excited that they don’t know how to handle it. Think of a child receiving a gift on their birthday – the excitement can make them scream, cry, or fidget.

Dogs can have similar reactions when they get overly excited and stimulated. Some dogs bark, some run or jump, and others jump. When excitement leads to tension, it can quickly escalate into an overexcited state.

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Jumping Dog
Excited dog jumping

Energetic dogs are full of energy and easily get excited. A typical example is when a dog sees you return from work or after a long time apart. They will be extremely happy and excited to see you. They wag their tails, lick your face, and jump on you to express their joy.

If this jumping behavior happens frequently, training can be helpful by redirecting your dog’s energy into a different action to burn off their excess energy. You can learn some training techniques for dogs in our guide.

c. Seeking Attention

Some dogs, when they jump, are seeking attention or because they feel bored. If barking and other actions fail to get your attention, the dog will resort to jumping on you as a last resort measure.

Remember that paying attention to your dog is equivalent to rewarding them. Even if it is negative attention, your dog may prefer to be scolded rather than being ignored. In this case, providing them with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and attention when they are calm can be helpful.

Jumping Dog
Dog jumping to seek attention

d. Medical Issues

Dog jumping can be related to their health issues, such as urinary tract infections, skin allergies, and phimosis (persistent erection). This often accompanies with other behaviors, such as licking their genitals or rubbing against objects. Urinary tract infection in dogs is a dangerous condition, and you should be aware of the signs and promptly seek treatment.

e. Playful Behavior

Just like playing and wrestling, jumping can be a completely normal behavior between two dogs as long as it doesn’t make either dog uncomfortable. Some dogs play back and forth, and everyone is okay with it. Some dogs simply enjoy hugging. Training and playing with your dog can be helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of dog jumping.

Dog Playing
Dog jumping during play

f. Overexcitement

An intense state of physical and psychological excitement can lead to intense behaviors, such as jumping. If your dog is showing signs of tension, it’s time to change the environment or take them to a less stressful place.

g. Asserting Dominance within the Pack

Some dogs may jump on others to establish their position within the pack. A jumping dog is a dog trying to dominate. The jumped-on dog may submit or resist by growling. Therefore, the jumping dog may or may not be sexually aroused. However, when your dog jumps on you, it doesn’t mean they are trying to dominate you. Dominance behavior is typical in dog-to-dog communication but doesn’t apply to the dog-human relationship.

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Dog Asserting Dominance
Dominance behavior and pack hierarchy

h. Poor Socialization

If your dog was not properly socialized as a puppy, they may compensate by hugging you or objects and start jumping. This is a sign that the dog craves social interaction and sees hugging and jumping as a form of interaction. Previously abused or traumatized dogs may also jump as a way to interact.

i. Masturbation

You may not know, but all mammals engage in masturbation, and dogs are no exception. In general, dog jumping is a normal behavior. So, if you catch your dog jumping on a pillow or a stuffed toy, don’t rush to stop them.

As long as your dog is not causing any trouble, there is no harm in letting them have some fun. Neutered dogs can also do this because they can still experience physical sensations.

Dog Jumping on Pillow
Dog jumping on a pillow

j. Stress

There are situations where stress-related hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can increase, and your dog needs to decrease them. Jumping can help reduce the accumulation of these hormones. At other times, when stressed, they may engage in displacement behaviors. Humans tend to scratch their heads or twirl their hair when anxious; with dogs, displacement behaviors may include yawning, sneezing, itching, or jumping.

2. How to Prevent Dog Jumping

Occasional dog jumping is not a big issue, and you can overlook it. However, if your dog’s jumping behavior becomes problematic, you may need to intervene to ensure both the dog and you feel comfortable.

Clearly, you don’t want your dog to attach itself to your leg and start jumping, or having it lead to a fight with another dog. Even when a dog jumps on an object, it can cause damage (depending on the object).

The important thing is to anticipate situations where your dog is likely to engage in that behavior and make sure it doesn’t become a problem.

a. Identify Stressful Situations

Not all stress is bad, but when your dog starts showing signs of stress, you should intervene to help them relieve it. Pay attention to situations where they are more likely to jump. Notice changes in their body language and proactively eliminate stressors before the situation becomes overwhelming for them.

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b. Catch Them in the Act, Redirect Them

First and foremost, if you want to stop your dog from jumping behavior, you need to address the behavior when it’s happening. Call your dog’s name and say a word like “Stop” or “Enough.” “No” is not ideal because it is used too often. If your dog stops jumping when you command, reward them with food, a toy, or affection, depending on what your dog likes best.

Training Treats
Training treats for dogs

c. Distract Them

If calling their name and commanding them to stop jumping is not effective, try to distract them. Use their favorite toy, open a bag of delicious food, or throw a favorite plastic dish for them. Continuously repeat the “Stop” or “Stay” signal every time your dog squirms and starts jumping, then move them away from that action. Praise your dog when they shift their attention to the reward and stay away from that behavior.

d. Play with Your Dog More Often

As mentioned earlier, some dogs jump if they are bored or have excess energy. In this case, what you need to do is play with them more often. A walk or throwing items for them to fetch can help burn off their excess energy.

e. Seek Professional Help

When a dog exhibits obsessive-compulsive jumping behavior or an increase in intensity, you may need the support of a professional counselor. Keep track of the timing of your dog’s behavior and record the frequency and intensity. This is useful information that you and your trainer or counselor can use to decode why your dog may engage in this behavior and how to help them.

In conclusion, dogs hugging your leg and starting to jump can seem like an uncouth and tricky behavior to deal with. However, it is not necessarily an implication of sexual nature; it carries various meanings. It could be:

  • Excitement
  • A desire to play
  • Seeking attention
  • A sign of illness, stress
  • Manifestation of position within the pack
  • A form of masturbation

If your dog only does this behavior occasionally, there is no need to worry too much. However, if your dog jumps frequently, you may need to discourage them from doing so. If it is not a medical issue, you can limit this behavior by catching them in the act and commanding them to stop, distracting them, or playing with them more.

Now you know why dogs jump and how to address this behavior, you can enjoy a more harmonious relationship with your furry friends.

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