Behavior Problems: Stopping Your Dog Jumping Up When Being Greeted
Dog jumping on people is a highly social and usually dominant way for dogs to say “Hello.” Play-fighting by dominant types involves similar behavior.
The socially bold dog that is isolated often jumps excitedly when a person enters its area. Removal of the causative factors, such as excessive isolation, horseplay between owners and their dogs (or neighbors, friends, etc), or what appears to be genuine hyper-excitability, must be accompanied by some recognition by the dog of the leadership position of its owners.
The jumper that does not respond to traditional knee, stomp or push methods of correction is usually the excitable and socially bold type. Such a dog’s response may be even more tenacious (although usually good-natured) misbehavior. If simple command responses are taught on a nonphysical basis, the corrections are generally easily accomplished. Dogs that respond readily to Come, Sit and Stay commands are quick to recognize behavior that displeases their leaders.
One method of stopping the dog jumping is to crouch down so the object of attention, the owner’s face, is where the pet need not jump to achieve its greeting. This requires physical stamina and patience in the case of extremely exuberant pets, but it yields excellent results quickly in mild cases.
A method that often works with highly reactive dogs is a quick, toward-the-dog movement, almost like a cha-cha dance step, followed by absolute stillness of the owner. The sudden movement toward the pet often stops its approach; the following stillness secures calmness. If a jump is still in the offing, a quick side step, followed by absolute stillness, is called for. This method takes more time than some others, but the cure is lasting once achieved.
Use of a distracting stimulus has proved effective when applied as the dog approaches with the intent of jumping. This may involve throwing a ball or some other unique stimulus. After a few such distractions, the dog will be conditioned not to jump up. If a ball has been thrown, a frantic search for the play object is a substitute behaviorism often welcomed by harassed owners or guests.
In all cases of correction, the dog must be praised with a soft-spoken “Good dog” and petted, if at all, in a slow and calming manner. This helps reinforce following behavior and instills calmness to replace the previous excitement.
Another effective deterrent is to allow the dog to jump, then grab the forepaws and hold them until the dog start to pull them away. Then the paws are instantly released, the hands are put behind the owner’s back, and praise is spoken. This reinforces the reflex to withdraw the feet from entrapment. Putting the hands behind the back avoids calling the dog’s attention to them, as some dogs have substituting hand-biting for jumping when this has not been done. A few corrections usually solve the problem.