Most dogs jump up on people because they are happy to see them – it’s their way of showing affection and receiving attention.
“No! Get down! Stop jumping… I’m so sorry – he doesn’t mean any harm… I said stop it! ROVER!!”
Sounds familiar? Is your dog one of the many that loves to greet guests by pouncing and slobbering all over them? Nearly every friendly dog gets excited when visitors arrive, but some go totally overboard. For a dog, however, it is normal greeting behaviour to jump, lick and thrust inquisitive noses into embarrassing places. Even if you don’t mind, the odds are high that your visitors do.
As early as a pup can remember, it has been taught to greet its mother and other dogs by jumping up and licking at the mouth. When a pup moves from its litter into your family, it retains this form of greeting. It’s the human equivalent of shaking hands and hugging, which is why most dogs will jump up on people unless they are specifically taught not to do so.
So how does one teach a canine some greeting etiquette? With a bit of effort, patience and lots of persistence. Use our tips below to help you.
- One of the most effective ways to get a dog to turn off bad behaviour is to teach him an alternative behaviour and then reward him for the new behaviour. A sit or a down is a more acceptable form of greeting to humans. Keep a boxful of biscuits near your front door and each time a family member returns home, the person should grab a biscuit and ask the dog to sit. Ignore the dog if he jumps, turning your back on him if necessary. Only when he sits, does he get the biscuit and the love.
- You can even get your dog-friendly guests to join in. Tell them to grab a treat when they enter but only give it if the dog sits. Most people will get a kick out of joining in and your dog will learn faster if more and more people participate.
- Try not to scold the dog or flail your arms – it’s fun for them! And for a dog that has been deprived of attention all day long, any attention, even negative, is far better than none. Ignore the naughty behaviour and wait to reward the good. Your dog may get excited every time you reward him and start jumping again, but persist in rewarding him only when all four feet are on the ground. Your dog will learn pretty quickly that he only gets the love for this new form of communication.
- Some dogs will get the message right away, but others may need firmer control. For the extremely boisterous dogs, put a leash on before guests arrive. As the visitor walks in, you or your guest can stand on the leash; your dog won’t have enough leash to allow her feet to rise more than a few inches. Then ask for an alternative behaviour, which you can reward.
And most importantly, be patient. For most dogs these exuberant greetings have long been successful and a modification of this behaviour will take time and patience, especially with older dogs.