By Jamie Sharma
Imagine you are at a BBQ and you are meeting people for the first time. You approach someone to introduce yourself and as you reach your hand out to shake hands, the person you are greeting slaps your hands and says "No!" Feel a little Confused? Awkward? Maybe even frustrated? This is what your dog goes through as he tries to greet you and others the only way he knows how to. Nose-to-nose.
It is easy to forget our dogs are not human and as a human, we assume dogs understand what we are thinking and feeling just by talking to them. Dogs, being a different species all together, try to greet people and sometimes even other animals the way they instinctively know how. In return, humans respond the best way they know how as well. Now begins the error in communication. This is where our problem starts.
When dogs greet each other, they start by generally coming nose to nose. Puppies and sometimes adults will often lick the faces or mouths of other dogs as a greeting. They use body language to communicate how they feel about each greeting. To greet a human, a dog has quite a distance to cover, depending on the breed, to get to our faces. So their best option is to jump. While trying to communicate our displeasure with this behavior, we end up confusing them.
A logical response to a dog excitedly climbing up our bodies to greet us would be to push them off with our hands and tell them "No!" Right? Wrong. Dogs figure us out pretty quickly. They know great things come from our hands. We feed them, attach a leash to go for walks, brush them, play with them and best of all, give attention! All done with our hands.
The solution? Use a language you both can understand, positive reinforcement. Dogs learn the fastest being praised for a correct behavior rather than punished for a bad one. When you punish a dog or try to communicate that they are incorrect, they not only don't understand but they also don't know what to do instead. Attention of any kind is what they are seeking when they are attempting to greet you. So your response of "No!...Get off!" As you use your hands to push them off, isn't just confusing but also giving them attention. Any attention including physical, visual or verbal is rewarding a behavior. So each time you give any of the listed above responses to a jumping dog, you are encouraging more. So, refraining from any of those responses until all four feet are back on the ground will help your dog understand he can get all the attention, love and pets he wants when he leaves his feet on the ground. Timing is everything! Make sure you are not only ignoring when the jumping occurs but also giving attention the moment the behavior you want happens.