Why do dogs jump on people? In most cases, it's an expression of their excitement and a way to greet you. It can also be a way to draw your attention or assert dominance over you or your guests. The latter is rare but can nonetheless happen. Excessive jumping may look cute in puppies, but it's a sign the dog lacks good manners. You should correct this behaviour as early as possible, before it escalates into a big problem. A large over-excited dog can knock down an elderly person or a kid, not to mention your visitors will hardly appreciate it when your dog jumps on them all of a sudden. So, what can you do to stop your dog from jumping on people?
Photo by Abhijit Patil
Turn your body away and ignore the dog when it is jumping. Do not look at, talk to, or push the dog. Any attention given to the dog at this moment will be understood as praise and, therefore, reinforcement of the unwanted behaviour. Make it clear that jumping means getting nothing from you. Once your dog has calmed down and has all four paws on the floor, give it a reward. Repeat this trick until your dog completely stops jumping when you come. Then, ask a friend to come over and participate in the process. He or she should follow the very same steps described above. When you have visitors next time, tell them you're working on fixing your dog's behaviour and explain what they should do to help you. Your dog will eventually learn jumping is not a fun thing to do, whether it's jumping on you or other people. Luckily, with most dogs positive results are a matter of days.
Another way to deal with the problem is to redirect the dog's attention, to give it something else to do. For example, command your dog to sit. Obviously, your dog should already know this and other basic commands. The idea is to make your dog patiently wait for your attention instead of behaving like a lunatic.
With bigger dogs like German Shepherds and Rottweilers that are strong enough to knock a person down, you can try a pinch (prong) collar. The idea is to leave the pinch collar on whenever you are around your dog and have a short leash attached to it. When your dog jumps, give a short sharp snap downwards on the leash. This tightens the collar and creates a negative association with the action. If you decide to use this method, please remember to never pull on the leash for more than a second or two, and be sure to never hurt your dog. When used correctly, a pinch collar should not leave any marks on your dog's neck. Your dog will associate jumping with negative experience very quickly. Please note that we recommend this method only as a last resort when the previous two didn't work, or when the dog's jumping becomes dangerous to the people around.