Understand the dog's behavior. In a dog's world, it is instinctual to greet another dog by coming nose-to-nose with them. This allows them to sniff each other's faces and become acquainted with the other dog's scent. Of course, your nose is a bit higher to reach so it is only natural that your dog will jump up to get closer to your face when greeting you. This can be quite annoying and unnecessary, but fortunately, the habit can be broken.
Before you answer the door and welcome guests, clip a leash on your canine, preferably to a front-clip harness or head halter, so that he can be controlled in a manner such that he cannot greet if he jumps. When your dog is calm, with all four paws on the floor — which may take up to a few minutes for more excitable dogs — allow him to approach guests and say hello. If he jumps, gently turn and lead him away; wait for calm behavior before approaching again. For particularly excitable dogs, another option is to remove the dog to a contained area before guests come in. An exercise pen or baby gate is adequate containment for many dogs. If you have an athletic or large dog that can easily scale a gate, use a crate or move him to a room with a closed door. Once your dog calms down, clip on his leash and allow him to come out and greet your guests.
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.
Redirect with a sit command. The simple 'sit' command can be useful in many different situations. Most importantly, it is a great distraction technique for redirecting your dog's attention from an undesirable behavior, such as jumping up. When your dog jumps up on you, turn your back to them while keeping them in your peripheral vision. Ask her to sit and immediately praise her when she does so.
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.