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.
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.
When a dog jumps on a human of its own free will, it is not "greeting" the human, it is asserting its dominance over the human; it is the dog communicating that it is alpha and/or wishes to own/control the human. A subordinate would never dream of running over and jumping on the alpha dog of the pack. Space is respect and lower members of the pack respect the higher members. If your dog jumps on humans, it does not respect them. Note: when a young puppy jumps on humans it is sometimes its attempt to reach one's face. Puppies need to be taught not to jump up on humans as this behavior will manifest into other meanings as the puppy grows up into an adult dog.
Make sure other family members and visitors understand this command, as well. It is crucial that your dog understand that all family and visitors are above his rank in the pack. Otherwise, he will lash out and try to assert himself on everyone. While using the Off command may not be appreciated by most visitors, but it is more important that a dog has a good greeting manner with all people. A little effort on everyone's side makes your dog disciplined and docile.
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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.