Does your dog love to meet new people? (Yes. Even you are considered new to your dog if you’ve been gone for fifteen minutes.) Does he love to meet people right in the chest with his paws and right in the face with his tongue? Jumping up is a common, yet annoying problem we can end up facing with our dogs. In order to curb this habit, let’s start off by asking why dogs do this.
In the canine world, dogs meet each other at the same level. There’s no need to position themselves any higher, but this changes when a lofty human comes along. Suddenly new sights and smells are towering over them and since they don’t seem to be coming down to dog level, the dogs must go to them.
Another reason for excitable, jumpy behavior could be that it has been rewarded (even by accident) in the past. If you wrestle a lot with your dog and allow them to jump and mouth you, you are inadvertently teaching them that this behavior is okay with you or any person your dog meets.
Now that we know where jumping can come from, here are some tips on how to prevent and end the behavior.
3 tips to prevent a dog from jumping up:
1. Exercise – making sure our dogs are getting enough exercise is huge! Just think how unruly your kids can become when they stay inside and watch television all weekend!
It’s the same for our critters. Releasing that pent up energy is the difference between a happy greeting and an anxious greeting!
2. Structured Play – when dogs play with each other, they are able to communicate. Dogs can let each other know when that bite was too hard or if they are finished playing all together. When we attempt to imitate this type of play with Fido, by wrestling and using our hands and feet, we can’t communicate these important things. This is very confusing for our dogs. They don’t know how much is too much with us and they can’t tell the difference between your bodybuilding brother and your ninety-year-old grandma. Use appropriate toys with your pup and be the one in control of playtime to keep from confusing playtime and greeting time.
3. Be in control – there is a chain of command in the canine world, and dogs crave that structure in their lives. If we can’t be a leader to them and teach what we feel is right and wrong, they will fill the leader role for us. With your dog as the leader of the pack, you can expect to see all types of unwanted behavior. It’s not their fault. They just don’t know how we want things done, similar to a child leading their parent.
3 tips to stop a dog from jumping up:
1. Come to their level- If we can crouch to their level before they have a chance to jump, we can control the greeting effectively. Make sure the dog looks friendly before crouching to their level and be sure they are not barreling towards you either. Standing upright is definitely a safer position in a situation with unfriendly or over excited dogs, especially when children are involved!
2. Ignore them- If your dog jumps on you, turn to the side so they slide off. Continue to do this until they lose interest. If they persist, walk away and go out of sight/accessibility if you can. Do not try and remove the dog from jumping on you and try not to say anything. This will only excite them more and they might think you are trying to play with them.
3. Stop them before they can jump- Say “off!” if the dog looks like it wants to jump on you but has yet to do so. If all four feet remain on the ground, praise them. Don’t praise them too excitedly, as they might interpret this as an invitation to jump! A cheerful “good!” will be enough. If they jumped up anyway after the “off!” command, ignore them as explained above.
So now we know that it’s not something we teach to our critters to squash their springiness. It’s more about teaching the behaviors we wish to see instead and giving them the tools to make the right decisions. The more we praise them for behaviors we prefer, the more they will be quick to offer them, making everyone want to jump for joy!