Lola is a jumper. She’s a wonderful dog otherwise, but she jumps every time a person walks through the door; she jumps when she has to pee; she even jumps when you are about to throw her a ball. Yes, your dear Lola is a jumper. You accept this, but you also have a baby on the way, and your dog's behavior concerns you. You also are annoyed that you have to frequently attend work with muddy paw prints on your business shirt, but how do you cease Lola’s jumping? While listening to Eric Clapton, you finally accept that Lola’s jumping has definitely brought you to your knees.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs jump to greet people because that’s how they also greet their own species. They greet other dogs by licking their faces, and Lola wants to do the same thing to you and your guests, except humans are just so darn tall! She needs to jump high to get that attention, unlike hunching over to sniff your neighbor’s Chiweenie. In addition to greeting people, Lola also jumps out of pure excitement. Dogs have a lot of emotions, and some do not know how to channel their excitement over even small matters: seeing her favorite hedgehog toy, a new bone, the leash comes out for the daily walk, etc. It is easy to get sucked into Lola’s excitement and interpret it as happiness, but according to Caesar’s Way, “An excited dog is not happy. A calm dog is.” This is why it is essential to take steps to keep Lola’s jumping in check.
Dogs also jump to show their ranking in a pack. Being higher up than a dog or human can be an effort to show authority and up a dog’s status. Again, make sure you let Lola know that you are the alpha dog in this relationship. On the opposite end, jumping up to lick faces could also be a sign of submission learned by Lola’s wolf ancestors. Puppies lick their mother’s face out of love and respect. Some dogs also jump up to lick faces for appeasement after getting into trouble. Perhaps you scolded Lola after eating your tennis shoe, and then you find her jumping towards your face as an apology when you prefer a paw shake. Another reason dogs jump is because it may give them a sense of control in uneasy situations such as a stranger coming through the door. Lola may not be happy to see this new person and may jump out of fear and nervousness in response to this “weird” individual who is stepping in on her territory. You never knew there were so many justified reasons for Lola to jump.
Encouraging the Behavior
Still, you do not want to encourage Lola’s jumping behavior for numerous reasons: danger of scratches, muddy paws, and plowing young children are just a few reasons why Lola’s jumping needs to stop. You may accidentally be encouraging her behavior and do not even know it. If you shower your jumping Lola with kisses and attention when you walk in the door, Lola will think everything is just dandy, and she will continue pouncing on you when you get home. Instead, you want to provide Lola cuddles and kisses only when her four paws are on the floor. If she is jumping, stand still and fold your arms while saying nothing until she calms down, or turn your back to her and remain quiet until she sits. It may take a while, but she should eventually get the memo. It’s also important that you recognize and compliment Lola when she is calm. Although they might be infrequent, also try noticing Lola’s mellow moments and offer her positive reinforcement during these times. Furthermore, you could keep treats handy when you enter your house and give them to her when those paws are all on the floor or try distracting Lola with a dog toy when you see her jumping when excited.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Another solution to taming Lola’s jumping is providing her with an outlet for her energy. Just like people, dogs have different personalities, and some dogs are just more energetic than others. Lola may need an extra walk or another play session or even a couple of extra trips to the dog park. Your dog's jumping behavior could be concerning if you have small children, and if this is the case, you do need to establish boundaries with your dog, so Lola doesn’t pummel your two-year-old or new baby. This takes some training, but it can be done. Use the pointers above, and your family can coexist safely and happily.