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.
If you have ever seen two dogs when they meet, they greet each other face to face, unless there is a massive size disparity. So, why are we surprised when that is how a dog wants to greet us? You come home from work and let your dog out, and they are excited to see you and excited to show you how much they have missed you. So they jump up on you to get closer and give you some love.
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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.
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.
A conflicting behavior when you come home—like “sit”—helps enormously. You’ll need to practice your puppy’s “sit” during calm moments first, and then ask for this polite behavior before you leave and when you arrive home. Guests will appreciate a polite “sit” when they arrive, too, as they won’t appreciate your puppy leaping around and mugging them for attention.
Dogs with poor social skills oftentimes just don’t know better. They will bounce off of everything, jump on everyone, run around like crazy, and investigate everything they can get their paws, snout, and eyes on! These dogs can come from any background, whether a rescue or puppy from a great breeder; if they haven’t had experience in new places and new situations, this can be how they respond.
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.