This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
Nobody likes to have a handful of groceries knocked out of their hand or get muddy paw prints on their new pants as they walk through their own front door, let alone someone else's front door. Jumping up can be a cute greeting when you have a small puppy or dog at home, but as time goes on, it can become quite annoying to you and your guests. Teaching your dog to calmly greet you and your guests, without jumping, will create a much more enjoyable environment to enter into after a long day at work or when receiving guests at home.
To a dog, space and balance are very important. If you take a step backwards or lean out of a jumping dog’s way, it will continue to jump. To a dog, it is overtaking your space, which only pack leaders are allowed to do. When a dog jumps, step into the dog. Picture a sphere around you and are not going to allow anyone or anything to come into your space. When the dog jumps, step into it sideways with your body, shoulder towards the dog. Don't face the dog head-on (you may not have time to turn so don’t worry about it if this is the case). You are not trying to knock the dog down, although this may happen. Don’t be alarmed if you do knock the dog over. Although you don’t want to abuse the dog by knocking it around, this may actually go a long way toward breaking it of the jumping habit as it will create a negative experience. Dogs are incredibly physical creatures and can withstand a lot of physicality without any harm. The odds of inflicting any serious injury are miniscule. You are simply calmly filling up your space with your body, and in return, setting the dog off-balance, which is an uncomfortable feeling for a dog. Lean slightly forward, not backward. Never lean backward, as you will be giving the dog that space. Casually and calmly, keep filling your space, not allowing room for the dog to come in. Remember, your goal is not to knock the dog down, it's just to retain your space.
However, when we are standing or sitting in a chair and they come bounding over to greet us, jumping up on us and trying to reach our face, we must not bend over and exchange hugs and kisses. If we do we are training and rewarding the puppy for jumping up. Eventually, most of us decide we no longer like our puppy jumping up to say hello - usually when the puppy gets bigger and more rambunctious. What used to be cute is now obnoxious and even dangerous if the puppy is jumping up on children or the elderly.
For pups that ambush you and bite your rear end while playing outside, hide a toy or two in the backyard and ask them to find the toy. Bad weather can give puppies cabin fever when they don’t have adequate time outside to run off the energy. Mental stimulation can wear them out, too. Show your puppy a favorite toy and then roll it up inside an old towel and knot it to make a puzzle. Encourage the pup to unravel and get the toy. You can even tie the first toy-in-the-towel inside a second one for more of a challenge to relieve boredom.
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.
1. Do not let your dog make a big deal out of your arrival home. In fact, as the alpha leader of your family's "pack", you shouldn't even greet him or her for at least 15 minutes. If your dog jumps around and pesters you before that, squirt him with water pistol or shake a can filled with pebbles. This will startle him, and if done on a regular basis, calm him whenever you get home. He won't make such a big deal of your arrival, and thus learn that he can greet you without jumping. Follow the same technique for any visitors to your home. Do not introduce the dog to your visitors until after 15 minutes or longer.
Also, it's your job to never let anyone else allow your puppy to jump up on them! They will say, "It's OK, she's just a puppy, I don't mind if she jumps on me". You must rush in and pull the puppy down immediately, put your pup in a sit, praise the puppy then scold the person ! Continue to hold the puppy in a sit and let the person greet the pup. Explain to them they can never allow the puppy to jump on them - the puppy must sit to be greeted. To stop the jumping up behavior in pups, I do as much people training as puppy training!
Puppies in human households try to lick the weird, flat, usually bald body part we have instead of a muzzle. When a cute little puppy jumps up to lick face, many people can only say “Awwww!” Hey presto! Jumping up has been rewarded. The puppy’s natural inclination is now a learned behavior. Too bad for the dog when he’s nine months old, bigger and less cute, muddying the pinstripes and knocking Granny to the ground.