I often see families or talk to families who have “tried everything” to get their dog to stop jumping up (or any other variety of behaviors). Now I can make a completely clear argument that they haven’t “tried everything” but that’s not here or there… they THINK and FEEL that they have. They’ve done the things that helpful people and trainers have told them to do… tell the dog to sit, turn their back, they tell their dog no, etc. Some have even resorted to punishment to try to get the dog to stop jumping and yet, the jumping up is still happening. The handler is generally frustrated. And likely, so is the dog.
Behaviors serve a purpose. Their purpose is to get more of what a learner wants and less of what the learner doesn’t want. The purpose of jumping up can be to get attention, even negative attention… but it can also be to get people to leave a dog alone, to slow down the human’s approach. This happens in people too…. If someone is grouchy and unapproachable, well, people are less likely to approach. If a dog is uncomfortable with greetings, for any number of reasons, they may choose jumping up as a way to keep people from overwhelming them… because most of us don’t enjoy being jumped on. One of the reasons I think I see this in doodles is because, well, they look like muppets… And they are often approached in a very intense way… squealing, running, immediate hugging and petting. I often see that these dogs are overwhelmed by those approaches. The signs can include, but are not limited to jumping up, turning away, whining, screaming, barking, jumping, pulling on leash, lip licking, yawning, looking away, shifting their weight backward, tail tucks, paw raises, etc.
Often, when I try to point this out to families, they argue my perspective away. No, no… it’s a Doodle (or insert other breed here) and they are friendly, HE LOVES people. And he can absolutely LOVE people AND be overwhelmed by intense approaches by strangers and non-strangers. I like people, I still don’t want you to come up and touch me and squeal in my face… it’s rude and overwhelming.