Before you answer the door and welcome guests, clip a leash on your canine, preferably to a front-clip harness or head halter, so that he can be controlled in a manner such that he cannot greet if he jumps. When your dog is calm, with all four paws on the floor — which may take up to a few minutes for more excitable dogs — allow him to approach guests and say hello. If he jumps, gently turn and lead him away; wait for calm behavior before approaching again. For particularly excitable dogs, another option is to remove the dog to a contained area before guests come in. An exercise pen or baby gate is adequate containment for many dogs. If you have an athletic or large dog that can easily scale a gate, use a crate or move him to a room with a closed door. Once your dog calms down, clip on his leash and allow him to come out and greet your guests.
Why do dogs jump up? A plausible explanation arises from their ways of communicating with each other. A puppy greeting an adult dog often licks the adult’s muzzle -- a polite, deferential behavior. Dogs, of course, descend from wolves, among whom muzzle-licking is how pups get the grownups to regurgitate food for them. Domestic dogs rarely nourish puppies this way, but muzzle-licking has survived, maybe because deferential behaviors are handy for a social animal. Think of humans saying “No, after you.” Muzzle-licking is also an appeasement behavior -- something you trot out to de-escalate a fight. A human might lift up his hands, palms toward the person he’s arguing with.
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