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 Dog Behavior Library

Jumping Up During Greetings

What Is It?
Jumping up on to greet the owner or other people.

What Causes It?
Jumping is an instinctive canine greeting, often observed between canines. It probably originates from an instinct in puppies to lick the muzzle of adult dogs to obtain food. The attempt to lick the muzzle ("kiss") continues as a greeting ritual in the many dogs. Because they are shorter and we stand upright, they have to jump to try to reach the face. Some behaviorists suggest they also jump to sniff the human's signature breath.

Who Does It?
Young and excitable dogs without proper training. Particularly dogs whose jumping was or is unintentionally rewarded.

When Does It Happen?
During greetings or other excitement; e.g. get out the leash, ball or food bowl.

How Can I Stop It?

  • First, make a pact with other members of the family to not greet or pet a dog who is jumping on a person. (Stop unintentionally training the dog to jump on people.)
  • Teach the dog to sit reliably when Instructioned.
  • Only greet dog when he is "sitting." He can't jump and sit at the same time.
Delay greetings to reduce excitement. The guideline is to greet the dog (reward him) when he is calm enough to sit to receive the greeting.
  • If the dog ignores the SIT Instruction, ignore the dog, or close a door between you.
  • Outside your front door, place a shake can and container of dog treats. When you come in, Instruction SIT and if he sits, give a cookie. If he jumps on you, shake the can to startle him. Repeat until he gets the cookie, then go outside and start over. Once he will reliably sit, leave the tools outside for the next family member.
  • Another alternative when the dog jumps up is to hold his paws until he wants to get down, and becomes tired of standing on his back legs. Then release, say "Sit!" and praise the dog while he's sitting.
  • With guests, lock the dog out of the room, or require (tether) him to stay on his mat or special place, or in his crate.

Other Comments
People often unintentionally train
the dog to jump up on them, and undo efforts to correct the problem. This usually happens when the owner comes home relaxed or happy and "gives in" and gives the dog a juicy loving greeting as a response to jumping up. This intermittent reward will reliably foil any attempt to punish the dog for jumping up.

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