Jumping is a very common behavioral problem in dogs (from our point of view, that is). The majority of dog owners who have puppies will experience some form of jumping while the dog is young, but there are dogs that are not taught to keep their paws on the ground and it becomes a much bigger problem as they get older. Say, for example, you bring home a nine week old puppy. She is adorable, fluffy, and fits in your hands. Sure, she may jump up on your legs when she wants attention, but its okay, because she is SO cute! Now, imagine the same dog that has turned into an eighty pound adult. Is the jumping cute now? Probably not. But this is the very situation that many dog owners find themselves in.
A dog that jumps may not seem like a serious situation, but it can quickly get out of hand. A dog that jumps on people can leave scratches, tear clothing, or frighten a young child. A dog that jumps on counter tops may find that it is easy to steal food or other items it should not have. Jumping should be discouraged from the first day you bring a new dog home (young or old). Whether you already have a dog that jumps or you want to prevent a future dog from learning the habit, here are some tips to help stop or prevent the behavior.
If your dog jumps on you:
Do not touch your dog; do not make eye contact with your dog; do not excessively talk to your dog! Why? Because jumping is your dog's way of getting attention, and by looking at, talking to, or touching your dog, you are rewarding him/her for their jumping.
Cross your arms and turn around when your dog jumps on you. By turning around, you are avoiding eye contact and taking away your attention; and by crossing your arms, you are avoiding touching your dog and unintentionally rewarding him/her. (Note: it is natural for you to want to push your dog off of you when he/she jumps, but do NOT do this; you would be rewarding the jumping behavior and encouraging your dog to do it more.)
As you turn around, your dog's paws should momentarily fall off of you. At this moment, when your dog's paws are on the floor, say "Off" in a stern tone (do not yell, just lower your voice and sound serious). Doing this teaches your dog that the action of putting his/her paws back on the floor and the word "Off" are related. Hence, the command "Off" will be used when your dog jumps in the future.
If your dog jumps on people who come visit your home, put your dog on leash before you open the door to let them in. Having your dog on leash by your side prevents your dog from reaching your guests and jumping on them. Keep your dog on leash until he/she has fully calmed down. When your dog is relaxed, reward your dog's calm behavior by letting him/her off leash to greet your guests.
If your dog jumps on counter top or other tables:
Do not leave tempting items on counter tops. This could be anything from food items, napkins, newspapers, clothing (mittens, socks, etc), or anything else your dog finds appealing. If you remove all the items your dog enjoys from the counter tops, you are removing the reward for your dog's jumping. Keep your counters very clean. A dog's nose is very keen, so even small crumbs on a counter are enough for your dog to continue jumping.
If your dog jumps on the counter looking for something he/she likes, walk over to him/her, point to the floor, and say "Off." Your dog will wonder what you are pointing at on the floor and jump off the counter to see. Saying "Off" at the same time teaches your dog the command Off. Use a stern voice as you do when he/she jumps on you, and still do not touch your dog.
There are many different scenarios in which a dog will jump, either on people, counter tops, or furniture, but these tips are a good general start to discouraging your dog's behavior. Please keep in mind that even if you do not mind your dog jumping on you, other people may not be so accepting of your dog's behavior. For this reason, it is important to teach your dog to greet people by sitting and not by jumping. Remember to be consistent with your dog's training. Your dog has learned it is rewarding to jump, so breaking this bad habit will take some time. The longer your dog has been "allowed" to jump, the longer it will take to untrain this behavior. As long as you are discouraging every jump your dog makes, he/she will learn that jumping is no longer rewarding.