"My dog always jumps on me."

"Four on the floor" is the rule for bouncy dogs

Q: My dog jumps on me and on everyone we meet. I find this very annoying, and my friends don’t like him tearing their clothes and getting them dirty. What can I do to teach him not to jump?

A: Jumping is normal dog behavior, so most dogs will jump up on people unless they are taught not to do so. All canines, wild or domesticated live by a set of “canine etiquette rules” taught to each pup from birth. As soon as they are able to eat solid food, the mother canine carries bits of food in her mouth back to her waiting pups. On her return, the young pups greet her by licking the bits of food from around her lips. As canines grow older, this behavior translates into acceptable, canine greeting. If you have more than one dog, or if your dog encounters a dog friend, they are likely to lick each other around the mouth to say hello. This behavior is similar to the human habit of shaking hands.

As early as a puppy can remember, it has been taught to greet its mother and other dogs in this manner.

When a pup moves from its litter into your family, its human pack, it retains this “Glad to see you,” greeting behavior. However, humans walk upright and have mouths that are high off the floor. When your dog is happy to see you and wants to greet you in the only way he knows how, he has to jump in an attempt to lick you around this high-up mouth. People find the jumping up and the mouth licking rather disgusting and often react by scolding the dog or pushing it away.

To a dog not taught differently, this can be very confusing. To put this in human terms, if you have been taught that the polite, proper way to meet a new person or greet an old acquaintance is to shake hands, and you suddenly found yourself in a different culture where shaking hands was not the custom and was even found to be repulsive, you would be confused if you were pushed away and looked on with disgust. If someone took you aside and taught you that in this culture people bow to greet each other instead of shaking hands, you could easily comply and soon be out greeting people in their acceptable way.
Your dog is this stranger in a new culture, and can be taught an acceptable way to greet people. There are many training methods to break a dog of jumping up. One of the oldest is to bring your knee up on his chest as he’s in the act of jumping. I have not had a great deal of success with this method, nor have I hears of others using this method very well. Another way is to have the dogs leash and collar on. When he jumps pull him with a sharp jerk down and away, saying a command like “Off!” (Do not use the word “down” to make the dog stop jumping. If you do the slightest bit of further training, “down” will be used to tell the dog to lie down.)

The best way to train a dog not to jump is to teach him an alternative behavior that is more acceptable to humans such as “sit,” and “sit-stay.” Each time you return home from running errands, have a dog biscuit handy. When Fido rushes to greet you, say “sit!” If he jumps and squirms, ignore his advances. When he sits, he gets the treat and the greeting. When friends come to your home and when you meet people outside, tell Fido “sit-stay” by your side before he gets petted. He should only get pats and treats if he remains sitting.

Don’t scold your dog, be patient, and only reward the positive behavior of sitting nicely. Most dogs quickly learn that they get a lot of attention when they practice this new form of communication when greeting people.

By Ozzie Foreman

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