If your dog keeps climbing on you, you might be wondering why and what you can do to stop it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog climb on me? Possible reasons why your dog climbs on you are that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded, it wants something from you, it wants extra attention or that it is excited.

Since there are a number of possible causes it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.

Reasons why your dog climbs on you

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.

Boredom

Dogs are generally meant to get exercise on a daily basis. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they can start being more hyper and it could be why yours has been climbing on you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it when it is not able to get exercise. It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. 

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for climbing on you. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it climbs on you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to try to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Dominance

Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.

With that being said, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if it tries to get you to move and if it shows signs of aggression when doing it. In this case, it would help to avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (“Nothing in Life is Free) dog training

Excitement

The cause could be that it is showing its excitement. This would be more likely if it climbs on you more in situations such as when you arrive home or when you’re playing with it.

One reason why excitement could be a cause is that it might want to greet you at the face. It could also be because puppies mothers would feed them from the face and they would climb up to get the food.

It wants something from you

The reason why it does it might be that it wants something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around a certain time such as when you would normally feed it or give it exercise. 

Attention seeking

The reason why it does it could be that it is trying to get attention from you. This would be more likely to be the reason if you tend to give it more attention when it does it and if it tends to do it more when you give it attention.

To prevent this, it would help to give it attention when it is behaving the way you want it to. But, it would also help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it climbs on you by not letting it climb up on you and ignoring it until it calms down. 

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why it has been doing it.

What else happened when it first started doing it

If it did not always climb on you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded, separation anxiety or getting fed at a different time causing it to climb to remind you to feed it. 

What is different when your dog climbs on you

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to climb on you and what is different at that time. For example, if it does it more when you are leaving home, it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it when you would normally feed it, the cause could be that it is trying to get you to feed it.

What to do about your dog climbing on you

Below are some options you have when dealing with your dog climbing on you.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for climbing on you. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want but to avoid giving it things such as extra attention when it does not.

Positive reinforcement training

You could also train it not to climb up using positive reinforcement training. This is where you reward it when it does not climb up and stop rewarding it when it does.

To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop climbing do as follows:

  1. Get some treats that your dog likes
  2. Get it to sit. If you haven’t taught your dog how to sit yet then you can do this by luring the treat above its head until it sits naturally
  3. Tell it to stay and then wait for half a second then give it a treat. The idea is to reward it for staying sat and keeping its attention on you so you want to reward it before it has a chance to fail.
  4. Do the same as above but increase the duration each time you get it to stay.
  5. When your dog is able to stay for over 15 seconds start to introduce distractions such as the squeaking of a toy. Start out with minor distractions such as simply showing it the toy and then build up to harder ones such as rolling the toy in front of it.

You can watch the video below to see how it is done. 

Ensure that it is getting enough exercise

In order to keep your dog fully stimulated and to reduce how hyper it becomes, it would help to make sure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise. 

Redirect its focus

Another option would be to redirect its focus onto something such as sitting or laying when it seems like it is about to try to climb up on you. Doing this should help to get it out of the habit of climbing up at you.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.