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.
Other commands can be substituted for ‘sit’ if you prefer, such as ‘stay’ or ‘down.’ However, if your dog simply gets too excited to execute these commands properly (as is often the case, especially with puppies) try diverting their attention elsewhere. Ask them to go find their ball, or a favorite toy, as a way to distract them and expend some energy. And, as always, reward the good behavior with praise.
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.
When your dog has all four paws on the floor, give him attention and praise. If he jumps up at any point, freeze with your arms folded on your chest until he calms down. Instruct guests and all members of your household to consistently ignore jumping. If you have visitors who ignore the no-jumping rules, keep your dog on leash during the visit and gently remove him if he jumps. For anything your dog gets in life, whether it's your attention or a meal, only give the reward when all four paws are on the floor. Jumping up should end all attention and rewards, while remaining fixed on the ground garners all the pleasurable reinforcement a dog desires — treats, petting, play.
Liz London is a certified dog trainer through the Certifying Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA) & the Karen Pryor Academy (Dog Trainer Foundations Certification) with regular continuing education courses from the top animal trainers from all over the world. She has trained zoo animals, search & rescue canines, gundogs, and helped people raise happy, healthy, and well-behaved canine companions for over ten years.
Remember, Jumping up can be dangerous as well as annoying. Just as many owners are sued for their jumping dogs as their biting dogs. Young children and elderly people can easily be toppled over and seriously injured by exuberant, friendly dogs. Start now to teach your puppy not to jump up. Even little dogs can cause problems and injury to themselves and others when they jump up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Homecomings and departures are a prime time for jumping up because puppies want to greet you or stop you from leaving. Turning your back on some of these dogs revs them up even more, so instead, try ignoring the bad behavior. “Ignore” means you make no eye contact, say nothing and stand still like a zombie offering no reaction to silly puppy behavior.
When he gives up and stands still (staring at you like you’ve gone crazy), THAT’s when you greet your dog and give him some love and attention. This is the reward he was looking for. Following these rules will ensure he learns that he will only earn that reward by not jumping (don’t overdo the high-pitched voice saying, “GOOD BOYYYYY” or it will just rile your dog up even more to start jumping again).