Your dog is not trying to dance with you. But your dog is trying to say, “Golly! Hi! I want to say hello, too!” In our Why Does My Dog… series, we answer life’s mysterious questions about mans best friend. One of the first questions a new owner will have is Why Do Dogs Jump to say Hello.
When you first get home from a long day at work, the most annoying thing is when your dog jumps to say hello. If you are like me, working in an office environment means I dress well to work. And a dog jumping up and getting snags in a sweater is no bueno (no good). Luckily I know that, just like when my dog yawns, jumping up has a very instinctual reason behind it.
A Traditional Dog Greeting
The golden rule of a polite dog greeting is to say hello to both ends. Watch your dog greeting another dog they want to be friends with. Step one is smell the mouth. Step two is to smell the butt. Both ends, to dogs, are a polite greeting.
When I take my dog to the dog park, she wants to be everyone’s friend. She is submissive by nature and is on her best behavior when she says hello. She runs to a potential friend, sniffs their mouth and waits until they are done smelling hers. After that, she presents her butt for sniffing.
If the other dog is aggressive, or doesn’t like what they smell, she offers her belly. This tends to win friends or at least satisfy those who are unfriendly.
Why Do Dogs Jump to Say Hello (It starts with the Puppy Jump)
If a polite greeting is to smell your mouth and rear, it should be no surprise your dog wants to jump up to say hello. But the reason your dog thinks they can do this to you is not just because they think it is polite.
My sisters and I used to make our family dogs ‘dance’ with us. We would have them jump up, we would grab their paws, and dance with them. When my dog was a puppy, she would jump up and present her paws. I encouraged this because I thought it was so cute when my ten pound puppy had her paws in the air.
But now that my ten pound fluff ball is 65 pounds, jumping up is not as cute. Jumping up is painful, destructive, and annoying. As the parent, it is entirely my fault that my dogs all think jumping up is acceptable.
Different Breeds Jump for Different Reasons
A polite hello for one breed is not a polite greeting for another. All breeds love to get in your face, but what they do after that differs. Small breeds, like any toy variety, tend to jump up and ‘grab on’ to your leg, waiting to be picked up. They know the only way to get to your face is to wait to be picked up.
Often, small breeds, like miniatures, will jump. They know you will not pick them up, but want to smell your mouth somehow. Large breeds tend to jump up and knock you down. Okay, maybe not knock you down. But it feels like it. Paws on your shoulders and a running start will knock most people down.
Different dogs do have different personalities. That is why some dogs will try to knock you down, while others just want to get to your mouth. If you are lucky, your dog will try to lick your face.
Every dog is different. A lot has to do with when you encourage when your puppy is young. If you think face licking is cute when you have a puppy, you better think it is cute when you have a 80 pound fluff monster.
How to Stop the Dog Jump
You have two options to stop the infamous dog jump. One is to discourage the cute activity when your dog is a puppy. I personally dislike this approach. Why?
For one, is you miss the cute stuff. Two is, it may not work. Your dog still will think this is a polite greeting. Your dog may not lick your face or present paws, but getting to your face is instinctual.
Option two, the real winner, is to get to your dogs level. My husband ‘takes a knee’ when he gets home. I hold my dog and she tries to break my grip and jump at him. He will get on a knee and I let her go. She runs up and sniffs his face and tries to lick.
After a few minutes of cute excitement, she will run around and smell his rear. If my husband gets up before the face greeting is done, my dog will jump.
This is consistent with every dog. When I meet new dogs, I get down to there level. I let the dog sniff. If the dog is aggressive, I present my hand to let the dog get a sniff first. If the sniff test pans out, then I let the dog give me a polite greeting.
Another method to stop the dog jump is to give your dog some time. Walking away, or diverting attention and allow your dog a minute to ‘think’ before jumping or lunging at you. This is less effective, but some people do not like the ‘take a knee’ approach.