Dogs do what works, and what they can get away with.
Jumping on people is definitely something a Boxer is prone to, unless you teach him it’s unacceptable.
On the most basic level, you can train a Boxer to keep all four paws on the ground by abruptly withdrawing attention whenever he jumps.
This way he will learn that jumping causes an end to the fun.
Whether your Boxer is jumping on you, or on strangers, with a few step-by-step strategies you can break him of this habit.
What To Do If Your Boxer Puppy Is Jumping Up On Kids And Others At Home
If your Boxer puppy is jumping on people at home, it’s time to leash him indoors.
A soft, regular collar with a leash gives you more control, and provides you an additional means of communicating with your pup.
Whenever your Boxer puppy jumps up:
- Step back, or stand up if you’re kneeling down
- Give a little pop on the leash (Gently, just enough to startle him to stop what he’s doing)
- Use pressure on the leash to prevent your puppy making contact again
The moment your puppy calms down, petting can resume.
When countering undesirable behaviors that come from nervous, misdirected energy, set the tone with your own demeanor.
It will go a long way if you’re able to embody the same energy you want to see in your dog.
Use calm and slow movements and a quiet voice. Avoid speaking in a high pitched or excited tone.
Why Does A Boxer Dog Jump?
It’s much easier to stop your dog jumping once you have a good grasp of why he’s doing it in the first place.
Boxers jump because of:
- poor impulse control
- improper management/training
- not enough practice in the situation in order to learn better behaviors
- people deliberately or inadvertently encouraging jumping
Young Boxers can be highly excitable.
But, don’t buy into the idea that Boxers are “hyper” dogs and crazy behavior is just par for the course.
Boxers as a breed actually have a very steady temperament.
They are police dogs, war dogs, hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, service dogs and guard dogs known for their judgment.
Their capabilities far exceed any demands you can put on them as a companion animal.
Sure, they love a zoomie as much as the next mutt.
But if a Boxer is behaving badly.. this is more a reflection of shortcomings in the way the animal is being managed, than any limitation of the dog itself.
Poor Impulse Control
When your Boxer is a puppy he won’t yet have much self control.
This is something you can build by working on it with him.
Any game where your dog has to wait for your go-ahead to do something he really wants to do will exercise this impulse control muscle.
When playing with the ball at the park you might add in a game where you kick the ball, but the rule is that your dog has to wait for your cue before chasing it.
It helps if you’ve already taught the “Wait” command.
- Start by telling your dog to “Wait”.
- Very deliberately stride out and place the ball on the ground a little way away from your dog.
- Repeat the command “Wait” and walk back to your spot beside him.
- As he does what you ask by not moving, tell him “Good wait” in a soothing, calm tone.
- Then, give a thrusting motion with your arms as you tell hime, in an excited way “Go get it!”
Once your dog is rock solid with a stationary ball you can graduate to very gentle tossing of the ball a very short way, instead of placing it there by hand.
A tossed ball is harder to resist, so this is an increased level of difficulty for your dog.
Once he is successfully resisting the urge to immediately chase a tossed ball, you can try rolling the ball a short way.
Continue in this fashion until you’re able to throw or kick the ball with full force without your dog breaking his position until you give him permission to “Go get it!”
You can do a similar thing every mealtime, placing his dinner on the ground but requiring him to leave it alone until you tell him to “Have your dinner”.
If your dog struggles to master these, you can institute treats to reward him for holding his position.
Ideally though the only reward required is the reward of the release command itself, at which point your pup gets to chase that ball or eat that dinner, which is what he wants.
You can see how this skill of controlling the impulse to run after the ball, or eat the dinner is transferrable to the jumping situation, where your dog needs to be able to control the urge to jump up, unless invited.
If a dog is jumping on people, it means he gets away with jumping on people.
Getting rid of this behavior requires a period of intense vigilance and commitment during which you must have zero tolerance for jumping.
This does not mean in any way physically disciplining your dog.
Rather, it means managing situations so that your dog:
- doesn’t have the chance to jump on people (you want to avoid your dog rehearsing the behavior you’re trying to eliminate)
- is taught what alternative behavior you expect of him in these situations
- is rewarded/treated for keeping his paws on the ground
Not Enough Practice
A big part of getting good at something you find difficult, is practice.
So, no matter what you’re teaching your dog, repetition is the key.
That goes double for behaviors that are partly driven by excitement.
If your dog only goes for a walk where he passes other people once a day, that may not be enough for him to find that kind of situation any less exciting.
One aspect of teaching your dog not to jump is desensitizing him to the kinds of situations that send him over the threshold at which he can control his impulses.
Desensitization happens through repeat exposures to the stimuli.
So, take lots of nice, quiet walks where your dog is encouraged to stay calm.
Once he’s less excited about walks and being on the street, he’ll be less inclined to jump on other pedestrians.
People Encouraging Jumping
If people squeal and carry on like pork chops, they will be elevating your dog’s excitement levels and making it harder for him not to jump.
This is why the majority of dog training is actually people training.
Some people actually like dogs jumping on them.
They take it as a sign the dog likes them, and who doesn’t like to be liked by a Boxer?
But this isn’t about you or them. It’s about your Boxer.
And encouraging jumping is not helping your pup become a good canine citizen.
Likewise, if your dog jumps on someone and they pat him or give him attention as a result… they’ve rewarded the jumping and made it more likely to happen again.
Insist that people maintain a calm demeanor around your dog when he’s still learning not to express his own excitement by jumping on people.
How To Teach A Boxer Not To Jump
Most Boxers that have a problem with jumping have never actually been taught how not to jump on people.
(Hollering “No!” in the heat of the moment doesn’t count. And we all know how well that works.)
To teach your Boxer not to jump on people use these five strategies in combination:
- teach a pair of opposite commands: “Paws up” and “Off!”
- use treats to reward keeping paws on the ground
- teach an alternate, incompatible behavior to replace jumping
- ensure calm interactions with your dog, to ratchet down the excitement level
- step on the lead
Make sure you are using all five of these strategies to achieve a balance of fun and control.
Don’t just step on the lead. Give him treats when he stays calm too.
“Paws Up” And “Off!”
A super effective way to teach a behavior to your Boxer is to teach it paired with its opposite.
So, if your Boxer has a problem with jumping, teach him how to do it in a controlled, invited way.
Whenever he stands on his back legs and puts his paws on you, “capture” the behavior by saying “Paws up!”
The idea here is that your dog starts to match the action with the command.
You can tell him to “Paws up!” and give him a pat.
Then say “Off!” and lift his feet off you.
As soon as all four paws hit the ground, praise and give him a treat.
You can do a few rounds alternating between putting his paws up when invited, getting a pat and then being told “Off!” and receiving a treat when he does it.
By doing this you are teaching him the words for each action, and also teaching him it’s more rewarding to get off than put your paws up, since a treat probably trumps a pat.
Having established these commands, when your dog is in a situation where jumping is a likely temptation, you can say a preemptive “Good off” in a calm, warning tone and give him treats as long as he keeps all four paws on the ground.
You can even tell him “Paws up” for a moment to show him he gets to do the behavior, but only in a controlled way, when asked.
Boxers usually find pairs of opposite commands fun to do.
Incidentally, you can use the same approach to get a grip on all sorts of behaviors.
For instance, to stop your Boxer barking i.e. teach “Quiet” paired with “Speak”.
Treats won’t always be necessary but they are important right now to help focus and motivate your Boxer.
If they aren’t working, it might be because you haven’t chosen a high enough value treat.
Find something your dog really loves.
If you’re using blueberries, try small chunks of raw beef instead. You’ll probably get a laser focused Boxer in two seconds flat.
Have the treats at the ready whenever you’re entering a situation where your dog is likely to jump.
Feed a steady stream into his mouth as long as he stays on the ground.
Distracting him from jumping in this way will break the habit he was in.
At the same time the treats help your dog manage the excitement of the situation (excitement which originally gave rise to the jumping) by giving him something else to concentrate on.
Teach An Alternate Behavior
Another way to deal with jumping is to require your dog to do a specific, alternate behavior that is incompatible with jumping.
In other words, your Boxer can’t jump up when he’s performing a “Sit” or a “Down”.
You are pretty much doing this even if all you’re requiring your dog to do is to have all four paws on the ground.
In a way, it doesn’t really matter what your dog does instead, as long as he’s not replacing the jumping with something else problematic, like barking.
Depending on your pup’s personality, it might be harder to maintain a sit than to just keep all four paws on the ground but wiggle butt around.
Or your dog might do best if he has the grounding of a “Drop” position.
Make it doable for your dog.
Most likely your Boxer is jumping when excited.
A dog that’s so overstimulated as to be completely over-threshold, will not be able to hear commands, let alone obey them.
Dogs feed off our energy.
So, it’s important to ratchet down the excitement level by keeping everything extremely calm during the moments when your dog normally jumps.
This might mean making your arrival home super low key, to help your dog not get so frenzied that he can’t help but jump.
Or it might mean having guests enter the house in a certain way, under strict instructions to not interact with the dog for the first 10 minutes and to do their best impression of the most boring person on earth.
Guests who hype up your dog might be banned during this learning period.
No high pitched voices, no raucous laughter, no fast movements.
Eventually your dog will be able to not jump, no matter how the humans behave.
But for now, dull and boring is the name of the game.
Step On The Lead
In the name of preventing your dog practicing the undesirable behavior, have your dog leashed in situations where there’s a risk of jumping.
Use a leash that’s long enough to touch the ground, allowing you to step on it.
Before your dog has a chance to jump, step on the leash.
Do this in a way that doesn’t restrict your dog as long as he is standing on the ground but which doesn’t leave him enough rope to actually jump up on anyone.
Jumping is a self rewarding behavior for a dog.
The moment his paws make contact with the person he’s trying to jump on, he’s gotten his reward for jumping i.e. contact.
This technique prevents him “stealing” rewards for doing an undesirable behavior. If he wants a reward, he needs to stay off, and then he’ll get a treat.
What To Do If Your Boxer Jumps On People In The Street
Often a Boxer is perfectly well behaved with family members he sees every day ..but turns into a Leapin’ Leroy with strangers.
This behavior can be challenging to train out of a dog because it’s not something you can practice at home.
Your dog needs lots of opportunities to learn how to behave appropriately in the actual situations.
If your Boxer is jumping all over people he meets in the street, you’re going to have to enlist the help of these strangers to eradicate the nuisance behavior.
Actually, these folks are already training your dog, whether you — or they — know it.
So you might as well take control of the situation so they can be teaching your dog the right things, instead of the wrong ones.
Every interaction where your dog jumps on someone is further reinforcing that behavior.
Here’s how to teach your Boxer not to jump on strangers:
- Give excitable people a wide berth when out walking with your dog
- Have high-value treats on hand to reward for staying off
- Give your dog practice being in proximity to people without receiving any attention from them
- Allow the occasional calm, low-key stranger to pat your dog
Give Excitable People A Wide Berth
Start where your dog is at.
For now, avoid folks who are overly excited, have high pitched voices or who are unable to behave in the manner you require — which is mostly to ignore your dog, not make a fuss over him.
You’ll get good at spotting them.
Even if these types of people want to interact with your dog, don’t be drawn in.
Keep walking right on by.
A simple, “We’re training at the moment, sorry!” will do the trick.
You can tackle high -energy strangers later.
But first things first.
Have a supply of high-value rewards in a treat pouch on your waist.
Whenever you enter a situation where your dog tends to jump, give the preemptive “Good off” and feed a steady stream of treats into your dog’s mouth as long as he keeps all four paws in contact with the ground.
Proximity Without Attention
The first step is to give your dog plenty of practice being close to people without interacting with them.
The objective here is to disabuse your puppy of the expectation that he will get attention from every person he sees.
You’ll have to fend off the people almost more than you’ll need to control your dog.
Get good at telling strangers, “Could you do me a favor and totally ignore him? We’re training at the moment”.
Great situations to practice in are things like:
- buying a coffee from a cafe window where you and your dog have to stand in line close to other people,
- sitting in the park close to other picnickers, or
- planting yourselves on a step in a high traffic area where pedestrians pass by, paying you both no attention.
After a while you can even:
- stop and have a conversation with a stranger on the street, still instructing them to completely ignore your dog (not even any eye contact)
This last one will be a lot harder than the others.
Keep practicing until your dog has mastered these kinds of situations.
Say Hello To A Calm Stranger
Once your dog is doing well staying calm when passing strangers in the street, or standing close to other people without receiving attention, you are ready for the next step.
Once in a while, you can allow a carefully selected stranger — someone ultra calm with a low, slow voice is a perfect choice — to give your dog a perfunctory pat.
It helps if you structure the interaction as the stranger chatting to you, and make the brief head pat an afterthought.
Sometimes it’s easier for your dog to remain calm in this scenario if the stranger doesn’t talk to the dog or give eye contact, but just pats them on the head for a moment or two.
Remember to reward your dog constantly with treats to reinforce that he’s doing the right behavior.
Use the foot-on-the-lead technique to prevent any jumps, and keep the interactions super short. 30 seconds at first, then building up to just a couple of minutes.
Don’t overstay your welcome to the point that your dog ends up failing because things dragged on too long. Better to go too short than too long.
Jumping in a Boxer dog comes from a good place — from an abundance of affection and enthusiasm.
But that doesn’t make it any less important to stamp out this behavior before it becomes ingrained.
.. and before your featherweight puppy grows up to become a 65 pound behemoth.
It may take some time to get a handle on jumping.
Along with a rock solid recall or “Come!” command, it can be one of the more challenging things for a full-of-beans Boxer to learn.
But if you persist, your exuberant puppy will grow into a dog you can trust to never jump on anyone.