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.

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.


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.
2. Greet your dog on his level! In addition to waiting to greet your dog, you should also greet him in a stooped position, so that he doesn't have to jump up to greet you. Additionally, if you wish to pet or cuddle your dog, do so on his level. This removes the need to jump at any time. PRAISE HIM for not jumping. If he jumps, use the "Off" command until he stops.

3. Because they have been rewarded for this behavior in the past, whether purposely or unknowingly. Some owners may, at one point or another, allowed the dog to jump on them or on their furniture, welcoming their dog's enthusiasm to see them. Other owners inadvertently reward their dogs jumping, simply by doing something good--such as walking or feeding the dog--right after the dog has jumped. Even if they told off the dog for jumping, by providing the dog with a walk or with food, they make the dog connect these positive actions, with a not-so-positive action: jumping! The dog sees thing in a very simple, linear fashion: if he jumps, he'll get to go for a walk--or even better, he'll get fed!


Our inconsistency perpetuates the problem. Some of the time we tolerate the jumping and ignore it. Other times we reward the behavior by exchanging enthusiastic greetings. But when we're dressed up and the puppy's paws are muddy, it's a different story. Reprimanding the puppy for jumping up usually does not work. Either the puppy misunderstands the reprimand as praise or he gets even more excited and the jumping gets worse. If the reprimand is severe enough, the puppy may stop jumping at that moment but it doesn't solve the problem altogether; and it certainly is not a very nice thing to do. It's very similar to a person approaching you with a big smile, arm extended to exchange a hand-shake and you bopping the person in the nose. Even if your puppy learns that jumping up on you is not a good idea, he will usually get away with jumping up on everyone else.
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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