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.
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.
In order to perfect the proper greeting routine, your dog needs much more practice than that. You can speed up the training process by leaving through the back door and returning through the front door over and over again. When your friends come over, have them do the same. Each time, ask your dog to sit-stay before opening the door. At first his excitement will make it difficult for him to concentrate but after you've repeated this process 10 times, he will calm down and be able to concentrate. Before asking your dog to sit-stay in this distracting and exciting situation, be sure he has a reliable sit-stay in normal, non-stressful situations. And of course you can always just hold the dog in a sit if need be.
An anxious or playful pup may leap high quickly and suddenly “poke” at your face with their nose. That can be triggered by leaning over the top of them especially when they’re in a high-arousal situation like a homecoming or around other dogs. It may be a way for stressed pups to relieve their anxiety, so be aware of situations that cause these behaviors. Dogs control each others' movement with their body language. Think how a Border Collie makes sheep move just by getting close. You can stop your pup’s jumps by stepping close to him just before he leaps. Cross your arms and step into the pup’s personal space before he crouches to leap.
Dogs like and need consistency, so if you are not allowing your dog to jump on you, everyone in the family and everyone who greets the dog must do the same. You, as an owner, must make sure this happens. It will only confuse a dog if you allow them to jump on some people who say they do not mind, and tell him not to jump on others. Once you decide you do not wish your dog to jump on people you must apply this to everyone at all times unless you give the dog a command to jump. A dog should never jump on a human of its own free will.
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.
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.