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Puppy Jumping

7 Steps to Stop A Puppy From Jumping Up

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Puppy Jumping

Puppies aim kisses at your face to say you're in charge.

Image © Amy Shojai

A puppy jumping up aggravates and even terrorizes people. His paws muddy slacks; her claws snag pantyhose. Being tackled by a dog is an unpleasant, dangerous surprise. It’s also rude behavior that should not be allowed in polite human/canine society.

Why Puppies Jump Up

It’s not the pup’s fault. Dogs lick each others' faces as a greeting display, and a submissive pup aims attention at a dominant individual's eyes and mouth. Jumping up is a type of doggy communication and licking the owner's face is a polite canine "howdy!"--a way for him to acknowledge you are the boss, and to solicit attention. Since puppies don’t stand eye-to-eye with owners, they tend to jump up toward people to compensate for their size.

Many people consider jumping up to be cute when the St. Bernard is a puppy, but the attraction tends to fade as the dog matures. It becomes a safety issue around children and elderly people who can be seriously injured by a jumping dog. Your circle of friends may include folks who (gasp!) dislike or are even frightened by dogs of any size.

Teach your pup a more appropriate way to greet people. Once she realizes her behavior offends you, she'll strive to find another way to say hello.

7 Steps To Stop A Puppy From Jumping Up

  1. Don't step on her toes, and don't knee her in the chest. Either action can be painful, which tends to prompt avoidance behavior or even aggression. Instead of teaching your dog to greet you appropriately, such actions tell her to avoid greeting you altogether—and that's no fun for anybody.
  2. Do NOT reward the jumping up with petting or playing or any sort of reciprocal greeting. That’s what she wants, after all. Instead, teach her that she only gets attention when she SITS on command.
  3. Have a family member help you with the training. As Pete enters the front door, he should stand still and greet the dog with, “Cricket, COME!” followed by “Cricket, SIT!”
  4. When Cricket sits as requested, Pete should offer his hand for a sniff (very important to dogs in greetings). Once Cricket sniffs the hand, Pete can stroke her cheek or neck, saying “Goooood Cricket,” to reward the behavior.
  5. If the dog still insists on jumping up, Pete should step backwards so the dog’s feet miss—and at the same time, turn away from her. That interrupts the canine “howdy” because a dog can’t properly greet a person’s back. Cricket learns that if she wants to receive a greeting, she must keep all four feet on the ground and plant her furry tail.
  6. Once the pup’s paws hit the floor, again give the “sit” command and repeat the exercise. After this social greeting has been exchanged, Pete can then walk into the house and take a seat. The puppy will likely follow—have other family members waiting in the room to reinforce her good behavior with “good dog!”
  7. Drill with your dog, until a sit prompts more attention for her than jumping up ever did. If a wet slurp across the mouth doesn't offend you, then you kneel down on your pup's level to put yourself in range of her kiss so she doesn't have to leap.

And remember, there's nothing to stop you from training your extremely well-behaved dog to jump up—but only on your command.

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