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.
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.
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.
With a tie-down, you simply attach your dragline to a fixed object like a fence, stair rail or another immovable object like an eye-bolt in the wall. This exercise uses the same principles as teaching the “wait” command, only instead of closing a door or gate, the pup is confined by the leash. That keeps you safe from mouthing and claws and prevents the pup from jumping up and grabbing. Practice puppy sits and downs while you stay out of range. Only reward the puppy with contact from you when he stays calm with all four feet on the floor.
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.