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.
In order to perfect the proper greeting routine, your dog needs much more practice than that. You can speed up the training process by leaving through the back door and returning through the front door over and over again. When your friends come over, have them do the same. Each time, ask your dog to sit-stay before opening the door. At first his excitement will make it difficult for him to concentrate but after you've repeated this process 10 times, he will calm down and be able to concentrate. Before asking your dog to sit-stay in this distracting and exciting situation, be sure he has a reliable sit-stay in normal, non-stressful situations. And of course you can always just hold the dog in a sit if need be.
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.
When your dog has all four paws on the floor, give him attention and praise. If he jumps up at any point, freeze with your arms folded on your chest until he calms down. Instruct guests and all members of your household to consistently ignore jumping. If you have visitors who ignore the no-jumping rules, keep your dog on leash during the visit and gently remove him if he jumps. For anything your dog gets in life, whether it's your attention or a meal, only give the reward when all four paws are on the floor. Jumping up should end all attention and rewards, while remaining fixed on the ground garners all the pleasurable reinforcement a dog desires — treats, petting, play.
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.
Liz London is a certified dog trainer through the Certifying Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA) & the Karen Pryor Academy (Dog Trainer Foundations Certification) with regular continuing education courses from the top animal trainers from all over the world. She has trained zoo animals, search & rescue canines, gundogs, and helped people raise happy, healthy, and well-behaved canine companions for over ten years.
Many puppies don’t know their strength. When they jump up and you wave your arms and try to push them off, they may think it’s a game and grabs and bite harder. Tell them it hurts the same way another puppy would, with a YELP! Lay it on thick, overact and cry and sob like the pup has done major damage. Some tough dogs get the message using this. For the out-of-control grabby, ambush type of dog play, give him a taste of his own medicine and SCREAM (very loud but very short), and fall over “dead.” Don’t move and don’t say anything. Play dead for at least 15 to 20 seconds. The shock value may be enough to send a permanent message that such games stop all interaction, plus they hurt you—and playing dogs aren’t interested in hurting you and won’t want you to cry.
Unless given a command to jump, a dog should never be allowed to jump on humans. A dog that jumps on humans of its own free will is a dog that does not respect the person it is jumping on. Even those cute little toy dogs should not be allowed to jump on people. While you may think it is cute, it is not cute to everyone else. Not only is it annoying to most people to have someone else's dog jump on them, it can also be dangerous. A jumping dog can knock people over, muddy their clothes, put runners in nylons and scratch the skin.