A canine companion that greets friends and family warmly is a much-loved addition to many households, but often people do not appreciate having a dog jump up on them when it says "hello." Teaching a dog to keep all four feet on the ground unless asked to jump is a key component to good canine manners.
Owners often unwittingly teach their dogs to jump up on people when they are puppies. It is hard to resist a cute and cuddly youngster that is pawing at your leg or that has just leaped into your lap. All the attention that the puppy receives because of its behavior serves to reinforce and perpetuate these activities. Owners can't expect a dog's conduct to change just because it has gotten older and bigger or because its paws are dirty after a romp outside.
The best way to treat problem jumping is to make sure that a dog only gets the attention it seeks when it is calm and sitting on the floor. Teach the "sit" command in a quiet environment. As the dog's behavior becomes more reliable, gradually increase the amount of commotion that surrounds the dog as it is asked to sit. If during the training process the dog does try to jump up, firmly but calmly say, "no… sit." If you can get the timing right, deflect the dog by turning and jutting out a hip or by grasping one hand in the other and straightening your arms, palms facing downward. Most importantly, make sure to pet and praise the dog when it comes to you for attention without jumping up.
Written by: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Last reviewed: October 2, 2008