Jumping up is possibly the most common complaint of dog owners.
Human greeting culture consists of shaking hands or bowing. Dogs on the other hand lick and sniff each other and jump up as a submissive greeting. Puppies jump up and lick the corners of adult dog’s mouths to get them to regurgitate food for them to eat.
This jumping up is retained when they join their human pack where, at first, it is regarded as “cute” until it becomes annoying, hurts or spoils our clothes. We allow it when they are small and resent it when they grow up. The person being jumped on is often reluctant to correct the behaviour – especially if it is a small puppy – because it is “nice to have such a joyful welcome,”
When you have been away your pup wants to lick your face as part of his submissive greeting and to show his happiness at your return. He does not know that his nails are scratching you or that his paws are muddy. You taught him to come when called, so do not discourage him by getting angry or hurt him by stepping on his toes or by hitting him. It is not his fault that our form of greeting differs from his. Remember also that the dog has a very strong compulsion to jump up and that it is hard to un-train.
Smacking a dog for jumping up can make it to become anxious or fearful around the owner that administered the punishment.
Dogs do not know the difference between positive and negative attention. When you push him away or scold him, you are giving attention to his behaviour and that is what the puppy wants! The best way is to ignore it, turn and walk away. When a dog wants another dog to leave him alone, he turns his head away and walks away. So, avoid contact and walk away. If I jump up I lose my friend is a good message.
Dogs have a difficulty in generalising. When visitors arrive the puppy will again want to jump up to greet them even though he knows not to do it with you. It is a good idea to tell your friends the procedure before meeting your pup. When meeting strangers it is better to have your puppy on a leash so that you have control and can prevent him from jumping up.
The following suggestions may help you to prevent or break this bad habit:
- Don’t let him start. Best time to prevent jumping up from getting started is not to encourage it when he is a cute little puppy. When the puppy first starts jumping up gently push him down and say “Sit!”
- Kneel when he comes running to you. Let him come close to your face and even lick it. Pet him, tell him you love him in a gentle kind voice and scratch behind his ear. When the greeting is over, stand up; say “Good dog” and leave.
- Step back. When your dog gets ready to jump up, take a couple of quick steps back– just enough for him to miss you completely. Pat your chest as if you are inviting him to jump up and be ready to step back at the next jump up. When he refuses to jump up, praise profusely.
- Step forward. When an older dog still jumps up, step into it sideways with your body, shoulder towards the dog. Don’t face the dog head-on (you may not have time to turn so don’t worry about it if this is the case). You are not trying to knock the dog down, although this may happen. Don’t be alarmed if you do knock the dog over. Although you don’t want to abuse the dog by knocking it around, this may actually go a long way toward breaking it of the jumping habit as it will create a negative experience.
- Hand him off. When next he comes to jump up, spread the fingers of your hand wide and quickly push your open palm at, but not touching, his face. Dogs don’t like hands coming into their face and will soon back off.
- Raise your knee at the level of his chest as he jumps. Be ready to prevent the jump. Pat your chest and invite a repeat and say, “Would you like to jump again?” When the dog decides “No, way” and refuses to jump, it is time to praise because he did the thinking, not you.
- “Down Dog,” is a non-toxic, weak solution of bitter-tasting spray in a small pump bottle and is used to train the dog not to jump on you. Usually only one or two set-ups and squirts are required to make the dog well mannered. The unpleasant taste must be associated by the dog as caused by his own action.
- Join a club and teach your dog the sit and stay command as the best ways to help control jumping up. Once the dog’s Sit – Stay is reliable he is taught to greet visitors in that position.
- Generalising is a dog-learning problem. Dogs may learn quickly not to jump up today but what about tomorrow? Will he not jump up on another visitor? Not likely?! You will have to be patient and practise repeatedly by setting up 5 to 10 repetitions with different people in different places over a period of time until the problem is cured. Fortunately future trails will be quicker.