It is very important to establish polite greetings between you and your dog, and between your dog and other people. If she learns to jump up when we greet her when she is a sweet little puppy (which most owners encourage and love) it becomes very confusing to turn around when she has grown into a bigger dog – or has muddy paws – for us to suddenly reprimand her for doing this exact same behaviour!
If several people in the family like the dog jumping up for a cuddle, especially when they are an adorable little puppy, what happens when a child comes to visit or when granny comes every second Sunday lunch? Dogs can’t automatically distinguish between who they are allowed to jump up onto, so they must not be allowed to get into this habit – right from when they come home as a tiny puppy!
It is wise to teach the puppy that they must greet us and other people in a calm and respectful manner. This means we should encourage them from a very early age to sit and wait to be approached for interaction. We should always keep the situation calm, so our manner must be quiet, gentle and hushed. Excitable, rough, frisky and noisy greetings only serves to turn puppies into crazy, uncontrollable dogs!
When about to greet your dog, always have a treat ready, but remember that reinforcement can take many forms and your dog may not want a treat more than she wants your attention after an absence. Reinforcement should always be what the dog most wants, so if you have been out all day, or even for an hour, and she has missed you (and you her) it is to be expected that you both look forward to that moment of reunion. We can all get way too excited and inadvertently teach our dog to be uncontrollable.
Be a good leader and set an example – keep everything low key and save crazy rumbles for outdoor playtime.
If the dog is over-excited, and will not sit, ignore her completely for ten or twenty minutes (or more) until she calms down and then reward calm sits with calm attention and treats. If she is still impossible, institute the timeout zone.
Jumping up on cue
If you would like them to be able to jump up for a cuddle, whether when standing or sitting, that’s okay, but make sure you make it clear – by having a special cue/command – when this behaviour is welcome. This distinguishes it between when it is allowed and when it is not. This is called placing a behaviour ‘on cue.’ For example, my big dog is NEVER allowed to jump up on anyone else – absolutely NO ONE but me, and he is only allowed to jump up for cuddle on cue:
The risk with teaching the ‘jump up on cue’ training is that the dog can become confused, especially in moments of excitement, so your training must be very precise, consistent and clear.
If in doubt, leave it out! Teach your dog that he never jumps up on people – no one, EVER!