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.
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.
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.
For pups that ambush you and bite your rear end while playing outside, hide a toy or two in the backyard and ask them to find the toy. Bad weather can give puppies cabin fever when they don’t have adequate time outside to run off the energy. Mental stimulation can wear them out, too. Show your puppy a favorite toy and then roll it up inside an old towel and knot it to make a puzzle. Encourage the pup to unravel and get the toy. You can even tie the first toy-in-the-towel inside a second one for more of a challenge to relieve boredom.
When your puppy reaches adolescence, he may be unable to control his impulses and start to test limits (just like a human child). Adolescent jumping up can turn into “nose boinking” which can lead to broken glasses or even a bloody nose. Jumping up often combines with mouthing behavior where the pup bites and grabs your hands, clothing or even your derriere in a grabbing game of tag.
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.
1. To assert dominance. Whether it's jumping on people or jumping on furniture, both instances illustrate a dog that wants to raise his station in life. By jumping on you or jumping on the couch, he's saying that he's the pack leader--something that you DON'T want to happen, as a dominant dog is much more difficult to train (and can become quite aggressive). In either case, you'll definitely want to institute the proper alpha dog training techniques, if you haven't already.
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.