If a dog is stressed or afraid, their demeanor and typical behaviors will change. If you see this in your dog (or really any dog you know) you should step back and check on your dog. Are they hurt? Did a new dog come around they don’t know? Has the weather changed? Is it hot outside? When was the last time they had a chance to go outside to pee or poop?
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 puppy reaches adolescence, he may be unable to control his impulses and start to test limits (just like a human child). Adolescent jumping up can turn into “nose boinking” which can lead to broken glasses or even a bloody nose. Jumping up often combines with mouthing behavior where the pup bites and grabs your hands, clothing or even your derriere in a grabbing game of tag.
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.
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.
4. Use the "Sit" command. This is one of the most basic, and important, commands. As such, if your dog is well trained, he will respond to the Sit command before even thinking to jump. If he does not respond well to the Sit command, then more training is necessary, as this is the foundation for dog obedience training. Train him until he responds to it in everyday situations, such as greeting and going for walks. The better he understands the Sit command, the much less likely he is to ever jump at all.
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.
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.