Jumping comes naturally to a dog. It's how he shows his joy. In the wild, dogs greet others by rubbing noses. When you consider that your dog might be trying to connect with you or others by rubbing noses, this behavior becomes easier to understand.
When your pet is still a little puppy, all those enthusiastic displays of affection and joy can be gratifying and let's admit, more than a little flattering. Flash forward to a few months later, and your dog is now big enough and heavy enough to actually harm or injure you by jumping on you the moment you step in the door. A seventy pound dog jumping on you can easily knock you off balance.
If your dog is making your guests the focus of all this affection, you can't always be sure they appreciate all the loving. They might be afraid or feel uncomfortable. They might not like their clothes and hair being messed up by a big slobbering dog dribbling saliva inches from their face. If it's a person who doesn't have any experience with pet dogs, they could even panic leading to all kinds of undesirable consequences.
Teaching your dog to display acceptable behavior in the company of others is an important part of responsible dog ownership. You might think your dog is cute and smells great, but your friends or guests might not agree. When you invite guests into your home, you must be mindful that your dog doesn't make them uncomfortable, and a jumping dog actually makes more people uncomfortable than you think.
For a dog to be taught not to jump on others, you have to first train him not to jump on you. It isn't possible to teach him that a particular behavior is acceptable when it's displayed towards you, but completely undesirable when it's displayed towards others. Begin training your dog not to jump on you form the time he's a puppy. Bad habits left ignored only continue into adulthood, and you'll have a harder time getting your dog to stop his jumping behavior if you wait till he's seventy pounds of muscle and slobbering all over you.
Tips for Training your Dog not to Jump
Take a look at your current behavior with your dog, and how you react when he jumps on you when you walk in the door. Do you resign yourself to his affection and say "Ok" Ok, boy, down boy, down?" If this sounds familiar, you might know it, but you're actually encouraging his jumping behavior, and establishing it in his mind as desirable behavior. There has been no punishment, and no reason for him to stop his behavior. You haven't' been angry with him. In fact, you've done nothing to show your dog you don't approve of his jumping. Don't expect your dog to figure out what's in your mind. He needs to be taught that you don't encourage certain behaviors, and ignoring it and hoping he'll grow out of it doesn't help.
The next time you walk in the door, and your dog jumps on you, turn around before he has a chance to rest his paws on your shoulder. Ignore him till he stops the jumping actions,and avoid all eye contact. Then, once he's on the ground and calmer, turn around and pet him and praise him for being such a good dog. Remember, he shouldn't be jumping at the time of praise; he should be sitting and calm. Timing is crucial here.
Use the "sit command to distract him when he is about to begin his his normal jumping routine. This forces him to stop focusing on jumping, and begin obeying the "sit" command. He won't be able to jump when he's sitting. Now, pet him and praise him to reinforce the sitting behavior. Come down to his level, and interact with him, and return his greetings this way.
The "Off" command works fine too, if used instead of the "sit" command.
If you find using the "sit" and "off" commands isn't doing anything to calm your excited dog, throw him off balance...literally. When your dog is leaning on you with his paws on you, take a small step forward, so he is forced to retreat backwards. Don't take a step backward yourself; he'll think you're playing a game which only establishes the jumping behavior as desirable. When you move a step ahead, he will find it harder to walk backwards on his two legs. For smaller dogs, you might want to take a small step, so you don't risk completely throwing them off and on to the ground. You can also try leaning on the dog a little to throw him off balance.
Some dog training experts advocate kneeing a dog in the chest to discourage his jumping behavior. This might work in some situations, but the disadvantages are too many. Kneeing your beloved pet might not be easy to do, and you risk injuring your dog if you knee him too hard.
Remember, the longer your dog goes without learning to restrain himself with you and others, the harder you will find to get him to lose this undesirable behavior. If your dog is making a nuisance of himself in the presence of company, begin training him immediately.