An anxious or playful pup may leap high quickly and suddenly “poke” at your face with their nose. That can be triggered by leaning over the top of them especially when they’re in a high-arousal situation like a homecoming or around other dogs. It may be a way for stressed pups to relieve their anxiety, so be aware of situations that cause these behaviors. Dogs control each others' movement with their body language. Think how a Border Collie makes sheep move just by getting close. You can stop your pup’s jumps by stepping close to him just before he leaps. Cross your arms and step into the pup’s personal space before he crouches to leap.
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.
Teach your puppy a conflicting behavior such as “fetch your ball.” She can’t jump up if she’s running to bring you her ball or favorite toy. Just the name of a special game or toy—“go get your bear!”—can change the dog’s focus and redirect the behavior long enough for you to evade the jumping. With enough repetition, your puppy will begin to associate your home-coming with “go fetch” instead of jumping up.
I remember going to a dog park where a little 4-month-old Boxer puppy ran around jumping on everyone. The dog was not heavy enough to knock most of the adults down. However, it left everyone with muddy pants and the dog was big enough to knock over small children. The owner did nothing to stop the jumping puppy. After all, it was just a small pup. Everyone around her was pretty annoyed at the muddy prints the dog was leaving all over their clothes. That is an owner who will have a problem with her dog jumping on people when it gets older.
This week’s episode is on how to teach your dog to stop jumping up and instead greet people politely. Jack writes that he and his wife have taught their young dog that he gets attention only when all four paws are on the floor. But the dog jumps up on guests. His exuberant greetings are hard on children and old people. Today I’ll explain how to teach your dog that the best way to get people to say hi is just to sit there and not jump up.