Many dogs jump up to greet people. It is a natural behavior for them and it gets our attention -- therefore it works!! We will talk, look, and touch them when they jump, usually with anger, but often any attention is better than none.
Unfortunately, young puppies are often petted and cooed over when they totter around on their hind legs, looking up with those sweet puppy eyes. By the time they get to be half-grown, excitable adolescents it has become a tiresome and irritating habit. It is not their fault they developed such an obnoxious behavior after all, people encouraged their jumping when they were cute little puppies!
When your dog jumps, you must first decide what you want him to do instead (usually sit) and be consistent in your training. All jumping must be discouraged. Ask people who come in contact with your dog to totally ignore him unless all four paws are on the floor. If it's impossible to prevent jumping on visitors, keep him on a leash or in a crate so he can not practice the behavior.
A dog must first learn to sit (or lie down) for petting. If his front paws are on the couch, your legs or anywhere but the floor, you must not touch him. When he starts to jump, say “OFF!” and gasp as if he is radioactive. Tell him to sit, and when he does praise him and bend to his level to pet him for his good behavior. He will likely jump again so be prepared to repeat the procedure as often as necessary. He will soon understand that “Off” means all paws on the floor. Don't confuse him by saying “down”, the usual cue for lying down.
Excited homecomings: When you come home and he starts jumping to greet you, withdraw all attention from him. Fold your arms, look at the ceiling, and ignore him completely. Don't look at, talk to or touch him! He will eventually calm down and that is when you will bend down to pet and talk to him. If he jumps again, repeat the attention withdrawal. Practice this over and over, day in and day out and your homecoming will be much more pleasant.
The tether approach is an easy way to hasten your dog's “sit for greet” behavior. Tie his leash to a solid object and walk back about 20 feet. Turn and walk towards him as long as he remains sitting. The instant he jumps, stop and take a step back. After he sits again, move forward. When he is finally able to remain sitting until you reach him, pet him and give him a treat. After a number of practice sessions he will be able to easily sit for you to approach him without stopping. At this point enlist family and friends to practice the same exercise with him.
To teach your dog to greet people politely on the street, again ask some friends and family members to help. This time you will be the tether by holding his leash. When your dog starts to jump, your helper will stop and take a step back. After your dog sits again (if he knows “sit”, you may cue him), your helper will move forward. When he is able to remain sitting until your helper reaches him, you can give him a treat and the helper can pet him. All available helpers should repeat this exercise, with your dog meeting each helper several times. Next time try it in a different location.
Practice, practice, practice with as many different people as you can in as many different locations as possible. If you are consistent and reward his good manners with the attention he is seeking, you will find it easier to teach him acceptable behaviors than you think! Tip of the week: Do NOT knee your dog for jumping, it will cause him to fear you and you'll be upset because he doesn't happily and quickly come when called!