Keeping your dog’s four feet on the ground is important for greetings, whether meeting humans or other dogs. It is a common misconception that an excited dog jumps up. People often think that their dog is just happy to see them or trying to hug them. The truth is, the dog is asserting himself over his owner. Jumping up is a sign of dominance. I’ve often seen my dog discipline young pups who come barrelling at her with paws all over the place. A dog that runs up and places paws on her face or back without first allowing for a proper handshake (smelling each other as a way to say hello) is flat out rude. Dogs must first be invited into the personal space of others. You wouldn’t just run up and tackle someone you were meeting for the first time, would you?
Dogs whether big or small need to learn that greetings do not mean jumping up. Large dogs can knock children or the elderly right off their feet doing serious damage. Small dogs need not be excused either, their little nails can easily break skin. I have heard of many of these “excited, happy dogs” greeting people inappropriately and quickly being called aggressive because of the hurt they have caused
What can you do to teach your dog to greet properly? If you know your dog is going to jump up, make sure they are on leash before greeting people or pets. Interrupt the behaviour before it happens by keeping your dog calm and placing him in a sit. Practice greetings with dogs and people you know who are willing to work with you. If your dog goes to jump, pull back quickly to prevent making contact, place him back into a sit, and try again when he is calmer. Ask people to not acknowledge your dog until the dog is calm. Petting the dog after he or she has just jumped up is rewarding the behaviour. With patience and consistency, your dog will learn that he only gets to meet once he is settled with all four paws on the floor and will be rewarded for it. The more dogs and people your dog meets the more opportunities you have to correct the behaviour.
If your dog jumps up on you, you can still use the leash trick but instead stand on the leash preventing the dog from jumping up in the first place. Dogs are quick learners and just need guidance. We must teach them how to properly greet everyone before we can expect them to do it right. Set expectations for your dog and keep them.