Cute, fluffy, and boisterous; who can resist a bouncy puppy? We not only tolerate a puppy bounding all over us, we inadvertently encourage it by giving them praise and attention when they try with all their might to spring towards our face with glee. As they get older, heavier, and stronger, this becomes less cute and more of a nuisance behaviour, so we start to discourage them from jumping. Usually we push them off or use reprimands to try to make them stop. But do the reprimands work, or even make sense to our dogs? Absolutely not. The long history of repeatedly jumping is much more powerful than punishment. In fact, reprimands and physical contact can actually encourage a dog to continue jumping, as it adds to the excitement of the situation.
Ignoring them doesn’t work either, because they just end up trying harder and jumping higher. So what does work? We need to interrupt the behaviour before it starts and provide an alternative action. Use a leash or a gate to prevent your dog from jumping in the first place and teach them that sitting on their bottom, or staying calmly on all four paws will get them the attention they want.
TOP TIP: If your dog is already an experienced jumper, have some tasty treats ready the next time you have a visitor. Before your pup has a chance to jump on your guest, scatter the treats all over the floor. This will send them into a sniffing frenzy which will interrupt them from jumping, reduce their arousal, and break the pattern of “see guest > go crazy!”. Now you have a moment to reward them for keeping their feet on the floor. It’s also recommended to teach this with members of the family during calm periods of the day, to set them up for maximum success.