How to Stop Boston Terrier Jumping on People

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by Lily Ferreras


Many dogs exhibit a jumping behaviour from an early age and Boston Terriers are no exception.

Jumping is an unwanted behaviour mostly because it’s dangerous for people (especially kids and the elderly). It may look “cute” on a young pup but definitely is not fun as your dog grows older.

Plus, not everyone finds the idea of having a dog all over them adorable.

It can become a problem if your Boston decides to jump into visitors or strangers during walks. I’m sure you’ll agree this is an embarrassing situation and no dog owner would want this!

So, how can you stop your Boston Terrier from jumping into people?

You start by re-directing how your dog communicates with you and other people.

But before solving this problem, you first need to understand WHY your Boston Terrier is jumping on people in the first place.


Why Do Boston Terriers Jump?

Jumping up usually starts when your Boston Terrier is a puppy. He probably put his cute little paws on you to get your attention.

Understandably, you couldn’t resist.

But your puppy just learned that putting his two front paws on you gets him what he wants. Which is why he will do it more in the future!

For rescue Boston Terriers, it depends. It could be a similar scenario or a lack of social skills.

Here are 7 reasons for your Boston Terrier jumping on you, or strangers:

#1 – Say Hello

Dogs greet each other face to face (unless there is a massive size disparity).

So when you arrive home, your pooch is excited to see you and will want to jump up on you to get closer and give you some love… face-to-face. 

#2 – Gain Attention

Your Boston may decide to jump or place his front paws on you to get your attention.

This can be a recurrent interaction if he has gotten a response from you in the past.

#3 – Excitement Takes Over

If your Boston pup just gets too excited about something (you getting home, a treat, visitors, etc.), he will jump on you or jump on the spot.

This is a learnt behaviour that you can change, I will explain how further down. 🙂

#4 – Instinctive Behaviour

Jumping is an instinctive behaviour in dogs. By jumping, puppies get their mother’s attention. They might want affection, play or they might be hungry.

Some hopping will allow a pup to reach their mom’s nipples to feed, especially if she’s standing. The law of the strongest still applies here, and puppies have a natural instinct for survival.


#5 – Reinforced Behaviour

People usually react when a dog jumps on them. Any reaction plays in your dog’s favour and unknowingly you are reinforcing your dog’s jumping behaviour.

For example, if you reward him with some cuddles following the behaviour, your Boston Terrier will associate jumping on people with positive things.

#6 – Receive Rewards

Boston Terriers can also jump to get things like treats or toys, especially if doing so was successful in the past.

Again, you might have been reinforcing your dog’s behaviour by giving him treats without realizing.

#7 – Poor Social Skills

Lack of proper socialization can be the root of many behavioural problems, including jumping. Dogs with poor social skills oftentimes just don’t know better.

Your Boston will likely bounce off of everything, jump on everyone, and run around like crazy (zooming)!

This is a common scenario for rescue dogs since sadly many have been through bad experiences and are lacking in socialization and training.


How to Stop Boston Terrier Jumping

Unless your Boston Terrier is jumping on people out of fear or aggression (in which case, you should seek a professional dog trainer for help), he is doing it to get what he wants: attention, a toy, food, etc.

The good news is that this scenario is easier to address.

All you have to do is make sure your Boston is not being rewarded for it. Then, give him another behaviour to do instead that is rewarded – problem solved!

Let’s walk through how you can do this. 🙂


Here’s how to stop Boston Terrier jumping behaviour in 4 steps:

#1 – Stop Rewarding The Jumping

The first thing you can do is be aware that how you behave when your Boston jumps can, directly and indirectly, reinforce jumping.

Chances are you thought nothing about bending over and picking your pup up or petting him when he put those front paws on you. But, every time you did that, you reinforced his jumping behaviour.

To be honest, any reaction from you, conscious or subconscious, can be seen as getting attention from your Boston’s perspective. Plus, it’s very difficult not to react to jumping!

Remember that even negative attention is still attention. So, shouting “down,” “no,” and/or pushing him away won’t cut it either.

#2 – Ignore The Jumping

What’s the best way NOT to reinforce jumping?

Ignoring your pooch every single time he jumps. Not showing any response towards his behaviour will encourage him to eventually stop to consider what’s going on.

Stay neutral before you redirect him to do something else. It can be hard, but hang in there!

#3 – Redirect The Behavior

If you have a hard time teaching your Boston Terrier by ignoring him when he jumps…

You can redirect your dog’s focus by asking him to do something else like sitting. This action will divert his attention away from jumping. When your Boston is able to follow basic commands, this alternative works.

Also, if your pooch is overly excited or lacks social skills, you may want to put him on a leash and take him away from the situation that is over-stimulating the experience.

Once he has calmed down, bring him back into the situation, this time keeping him focused on you (*hint* use treats).

#4 – Repeat, Reward and Stay Consistent

How do you reinforce the “not jumping” habit? By repeating, rewarding and staying consistent!

This training takes repetition and patience, but it will work. Why? Because dogs will repeat actions that get them what they want.

This is when rewarding your dog comes in. Every time your pooch stops jumping, reward him with praises, treats and caresses! Your pooch will realize that this is a better way to get what he wants. Plus, you want to encourage calm behaviour.

Finally, consistency is key. Everyone that interacts with your Boston Terrier should follow this protocol.

It only takes one person to give your pooch attention to reinforce the behaviour and set you back on his training!

After your dog learns not to jump on you, you will be able to anticipate his reaction in front of people and avoid unwanted jumping following these 4 steps that I shared with you.


What’s Next

Tilly, a Terrier Cross that I fostered, had a deep habit of jumping (among other challenges). I struggled from day 1 to keep her front paws on the floor.

Even though she was small, her jumping was a real hazard, and a real pain too (literally!). Although I followed the protocol above, I’m aware that some dog parents and carers may need some further help.

If you find yourself struggling, overwhelmed or needing some expert insight, I may be able to help with that.

Click here to visit our Dog Training Essentials, where you will get a 3-part mini audio series + the everyday resource used by a well-known dog trainer.

You can also get this using the button below. Happy training! 😉

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