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.
While the idea of "training" may seem daunting, it is simply teaching an animal what behavior works or doesn't work through resulting consequences — so whether you realize it or not, you are actually training your dog every moment of the day. Fortunately for you, preventing jumping is possible even without structured training. There are some simple solutions to this problem that require minimal effort and fit easily into your normal interactions with your dog.
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?
To say hello, of course. Puppies are social creatures and happy and excited to greet just about anyone! Jumping, leaping and bouncing are ways your dog shows affection and receives attention. When a puppy is very young, we usually sit on the floor, let them wiggle into our laps and allow them to lick and nuzzle up close to our face. This is OK because we are down at their level.
Teach your puppy a conflicting behavior such as “fetch your ball.” She can’t jump up if she’s running to bring you her ball or favorite toy. Just the name of a special game or toy—“go get your bear!”—can change the dog’s focus and redirect the behavior long enough for you to evade the jumping. With enough repetition, your puppy will begin to associate your home-coming with “go fetch” instead of jumping up.
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.
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.