Here we have part two of our three-part series, exploring why dogs jump onto people and how to stop it.
As you research solutions for your dog’s jumping habit, you might come across suggestions like kneeing your dog in his chest or correcting him with a leash tug. These techniques create issues because they cause discomfort or pain for your dog, which could make him associate these feelings with you or your guests. It will be to everybody’s benefit to ensure that your dog feels safe and comfortable around people. Fear and anxiety might do harm to your dog’s social skills and lead to even more problematic behaviors going forward. These tactics are also not beneficial due to the fact that they completely miss a key component to success: they do not teach your dog what he should do rather than jump.
Your focus needs to be on what behaviors are desirable from your dog when you arrive home from being away or when guests come over. The focus should not be on punishing him for jumping, but providing him with the education that jumping is a waste of his energy, and sitting still or laying on his pillow/bed/mat will bring him great rewards. First, you must be sure that you are no longer a part of the issue. Maintaining a calm demeanor and timely presentation of your attention (or toys, treats, etc) will take you far in teaching him a better, more appropriate approach to greeting people.
Teaching the dog to sit
Your dog cannot jump and sit at the same time. A simple adjustment to the inappropriate greeting is to teach him that he will only get what he wants if he is sitting still. Ignore him when he barks, jumps, or shows any typical signs of excitement. However, the moment he sits, gently speak to him, praise him, pet him, and allow him to eat a treat or play with a favorite toy. Be sure that you reward his sitting and instantly remove your attention as soon as he takes himself out of the sitting position. It may make it easier if you administer a straightforward “sit” previous to applying this method, but it is not a necessity.
Some dogs might require that you completely turn your body away from him or even remove yourself from the room (or leave through the front door) the instant your dog jumps onto you again. The number of sessions necessary will vary depending on your dog and scenarios.
When your dog has mastered the action of ‘sit’ when you walk through the door, you can begin to work on this same behavior with your guests. When other people become involved, however, it might complicate things. Many guests might draw out excuses for the jumping behavior and may even encourage his jumping; it is wise to ask them to participate in advance and prepare them for what will be required of them.
When visitors are expected, it is frequently best to put your dog away with ample time before their coming, so he does not automatically associate his being put away with the visitors who arrive. After you have seated your guests and your dog has calmed, you may bring him out on a leash. Ask him to sit before he is allowed to be petted by anyone and give him treats as they pet him. If, for any reason, you cannot deal with the dog and your guests simultaneously, it is a good idea to keep your dog in a separate room.