If your dog has been jumping on your shoulders, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you some possible causes and what you can do about them.
Your dog might climb on your shoulders because it is excited, because it wants something from you, because it has learned that this behavior gets it something, or because it wants to be in charge.
There are a few reasons why your dog might be doing it, or it could be a combination of them. But there are a few things you can think about when trying to figure out the main cause, and a few things you can do about it.
Why does my dog jump up on my shoulders?
Most of the time, dogs climb up on our shoulders to get their faces close to ours. They can do this to get our attention and show how much they care. When your dog jumps up on your shoulders, it’s very unlikely that he’s trying to show who’s boss. Even though research shows that dogs show both dominant and submissive behaviors, they don’t try to take control of the places where they live with us.
Dogs often like to climb up on your shoulders. Dogs like to hang out with their owners and play with them. But it’s also possible that he’s trying to talk to you when he jumps up on you. He might be tired or hungry, or he might want to play with you or eat. Most of the time, your dog wants to be close to you because it’s good for him or her, but sometimes it’s because he or she is feeling bad, like fear or anxiety.
How to stop your dog from getting on your shoulders
Here are some things you can do to change your behavior.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As was said above, you might have been encouraging your dog to jump on your shoulders by giving him treats when he did. Instead, it would be better to give it a treat when it doesn’t jump on your shoulders, ignore it when it does, and wait until it’s calm.
You could also use positive reinforcement to teach it not to jump on your shoulders. Here is where you give it a treat when it doesn’t jump up and stop giving it a treat when it does.
To train it to stop jumping on your shoulders with positive reinforcement, do the following:
- Get your dog some treats he likes.
- Make it sit. If your dog doesn’t know how to sit yet, you can teach it by holding a treat over its head until it sits on its own.
- Tell it to stay, wait for half a second, and then give it something to eat. The idea is to give it a treat for sitting still and paying attention to you, so you want to give it a treat before it has a chance to fail.
- Do the same as above, but each time you get it to stay, make the time it stays longer.
- When your dog can stay still for more than 15 seconds, start adding distractions like a toy that squeaks. Start with simple things like showing it the toy, and then move on to harder things like rolling the toy in front of it.
You can see how it’s done by watching the video below.
Give it exercise
Make sure your dog gets the recommended amount of exercise every day so it stays stimulated and doesn’t get too hyper.
Change its focus.
When it looks like it might climb on your shoulders, you could also try to get its attention on something else. Toys or a bone could be used to get the dog’s attention. Before it starts jumping, you should try to get its attention elsewhere. If you don’t, it might learn that jumping gets it treats.
If you can’t get it to stop and it does it all the time, you could also ask a dog behaviorist or trainer for help. By doing this, you should be able to figure out why the behavior is happening and what you can do to stop it.
Reasons Why Your Dog Climbs on Your Shoulders
1. Your Dog Is Happy
Your dog might just be letting you know how happy he is. If he climbs on you more often, like when you get home from work or when you’re trying to play with him, he’s probably just excited. Dogs are very expressive animals, and when he jumps on your shoulders, he’s probably showing how happy he is to see you.
2. They want to say hello
One possible reason is that your dog wants to greet you when you get home, so it climbs up on your shoulders as a sign of love. Most of the time, dogs jump up to greet their owners.
Even though “face-to-face” greetings are fun for many dogs, some people find them annoying because jumping dogs can scare or hurt people. If you’d rather your dog greet you more casually, try teaching him to calm down and relax first. Then, teach your dog the command “give me a hug” to keep it from jumping up and to let it know when it’s okay to do so.
3. You made the behavior more likely.
You might not even realize it, but you might have made your dog want to get on your shoulders. Your dog has learned that if you give him attention, toys, or treats when he climbs on you, he is likely to keep doing it.
Think about what might be making your dog jump up and what is making the behavior more likely to happen. If you want to change the way he acts, you might have to retrain him by giving him treats when he doesn’t jump up.
4. Your dog is looking for attention
Your dog may be trying to get your attention by climbing up on your shoulders. He might be acting this way because he wants something from you, especially if he does it more often at a certain time. When you feed him or take him for a walk, for example. When he puts his paws on your shoulders, it could mean he wants to play, needs to go outside, or is almost out of water.
If barking, whining, and nudging don’t work, the dog might try to climb on your shoulders. But it might be the best way your dog has found to tell you what he or she needs. If your dog jumps up at random, you might want to think about why he does it and if you should reward him for it.
5. They Want to Play
Your dog may also try to climb up on you because he wants to play with you and needs to get your attention to do so. He knows you won’t be able to resist him for long, so he thinks getting on your shoulder will help him get your full attention as quickly as possible.
6. They Are Being Affectionate
Your dog will do anything to show how much he loves you. One of those things is climbing up on your shoulders. Your dog is curled right around your shoulders, so he can reach your face and ears. Your dog might want to touch you or reach for your face to show and get affection, but licking you is the most important thing.
7. Your Dog Is Anxious
If your dog shakes, growls, or pants, then jumps up on you out of the blue, he might be scared of something. Many things, like thunder, fireworks, or other loud sounds, can make a dog afraid. When he jumps up on your shoulders, it gives him a safe place to be as close to you as possible.
If this is why he is acting out, give him a lot of reassurance and use lots of soft toys to lead him to the safety of his bed. If you’re worried about how your dog acts because of anxiety, your vet may be able to help treat him with drugs.
8. They’d like you to stand up
When you sit down, your dog might try to jump up on your shoulders to get you up out of your chair. He might want you to get up and feed or play with him.
If he tries to sit higher than you, it could also be because he wants to be in charge, but not necessarily in an aggressive way. But if the behavior is not welcome, you might want to talk to a dog behaviorist.
9. Your Dog Missed You
If your dog often jumps up on your shoulders when you get home, but seems more attached than excited, this could be a sign of separation anxiety.
Dogs who have separation anxiety can show how they feel in different ways. Some of these things are getting as close to you as possible, following you around the house, and not wanting to be apart from you for a long time.
There is a difference between a dog who has a healthy attachment and one who has clinical symptoms of anxiety. As a pet owner, you must be able to tell the difference between the two.
10. Their daily schedule has changed
Your dog might feel nervous because something got in the way of his usual routine. Dogs like routine because they always know what to expect, unlike some people who like change. When you feed your dog at the same time every day and take him out for a walk at the same time every day, he feels safe.
Routines can change for many different reasons, from small ones like getting home from work a little later to big ones like moving, having a new baby, or getting a new pet. When your dog acts clingy and jumps up or climbs on your shoulders, think about what might have changed recently to make him act this way.
Tips to prevent your dog from climbing on your shoulders
1: Don’t reward the behavior.
Your dog isn’t the first one to sit on you like you’re a piece of furniture.
Even though they are huge, some dogs still think they are lap dogs. Some of them would even sit on their owners’ faces to feel better.
What I’m talking about is this:
No matter why your dog jumps up on your shoulder, one thing is certain:
The behavior had been made to happen again. When you give your dog a treat, you reinforce a behavior.
As a reward, you could pet them. Or patting their head when they are on your shoulders.
It’s not too late to teach your dog not to jump on your shoulders, thankfully. If you have a big dog, it won’t be fun to carry it on your shoulders.
Kids getting squished by dog could also be dangerous.
To lessen the problem, give your dog treats when it acts the way you want it to.
For example, your dog decided to lie beside you. Then you should definitely reward them by paying attention to them.
When your dog is about to jump on your shoulders, you can also try to change their mind.
Tell them to “sit” or “get down.” Or give them something to do, like a toy.
Note that redirection works best when done right before the dog does the bad thing. Not after. Also, don’t use redirection wrong. For example, you might use it when your dog is about to do something good. It will just make your dog crazy.
2: Pay attention to them all day long.
Don’t wait for your dog to ask you to pay attention to him or her.
Instead, pay attention to them all day long. This way, they won’t have to act in bad ways to get attention.
You’ll notice that many dogs act in annoying ways to get your attention. They bark right at you and won’t stop, even when you tell them to.
Or they all jump on you. If this keeps going on, someone could get hurt.
Before this happens, make it a habit to pet and praise your dog when it acts well.
3: Teach them other, better things to do.
Your dog needs to know that it’s not okay to climb on its shoulders.
To stop them from doing this, teach them other things to do that are good.
One thing you can do is teach them to like being in their crate. This will help dogs who have trouble being alone.
Dealing with a dog who gets upset when you leave can be very hard. Even more so if this had been happening for a long time.
If you don’t think you can do it on your own, talk to a behaviorist. The process may take time, but in the long run, the benefits are much more valuable.
You can also teach your dog that it’s not allowed to sit on the couch. This keeps them from being able to climb on your shoulders.
But stay consistent when you do this. If you don’t let your dog sit on the couch today, that won’t change tomorrow. Or the days that followed.
One Last Thing
A dog might jump up on your shoulders for a lot of different reasons. The most likely reason is that he wants to get closer to you and show you how much he loves you as his owner.
But if the behavior is worrying, think about what was going on when your dog started climbing on your shoulders for the first time. If he started doing it all of a sudden, he might have been worried or scared. If he got sick out of the blue, he might have tried to get your attention. People often say that the dog climbs on their shoulders over and over again because he or she realizes that this behavior gets him or her more cuddles or treats.
If you’re not sure about how your dog acts, you should talk to a professional who can help. Choose what’s best for you and your dog, and work to encourage behaviors that will make you both happy.