Jumping is one of the most common and most annoying behavioral traits that dogs possess, especially after an invigorating romp through a muddy field. It’s also one of the hardest habits to break.
Your best approach is to respond in a consistent manner. Never get angry, but respond sharply with a quick “Off!” Never endorse this behavior, as that will only encourage it to continue. Reinforce good behavior (i.e., not jumping up to greet someone) with verbal praise and petting.
Other techniques can be used to extinguish inappropriate jumping behaviors.
Smaller dogs can be discouraged from jumping with a splayed hand for them to bump into. This should be combined with the “Off!” command. Never hit them. Start early, and the behavior should be extinguished after the puppy realizes jumping won’t get him where he’d planned to go.
The so-called “dancing dog” training technique is especially useful for medium-sized dogs, but can also be used for medium-large dogs. When your dog jumps up, grasp his front paws firmly and hold them in the air while you continue walking. Eventually, he’ll tire of being on his hind legs and will begin mouthing at your hands.
Let him drop down, and when he’s on all fours again reinforce this stance with a hug and a “Good dog.” Each time he jumps up repeat the “dance.” Because most dogs don’t like doing the cha-cha and would rather have all four paws planted firmly on the ground, they soon learn that jumping up means standing on two paws instead of four. Again, remember to always reinforce good behavior—in this situation, it would be when the dog does not jump up.
Assuming you’re not trapped underneath two hundred pounds of slobbering affection, grab some skin on the neck just below the ears and tug downwards. Be firm—never rough. Make sure your large dog is able to register your disapproval with firm language: “Off!” In all the excitement, he may be too busy to notice you.
The “Walk Away”
You may find that some dogs don’t respond to these corrections, viewing them more as a form of rough play or are simply happy for the attention. Under these circumstances, you should ignore them and walk away. Your dog will eventually make the connection that jumping up will not get the response he wants (attention or play) and will stop the behavior. Always remember to praise your dog when he has stopped jumping.
A jumping dog can be especially embarrassing when you have visitors. Your visitors can be part of your dog’s training. Instruct your friends on how you deal with jumping and ask them to perform the correction when required. In time your dog will begin to understand that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.