Labs are very affectionate and love to jump. Since dogs greet nose-to-nose, your lab is trying to level up to the noses of strangers to say hello. Luckily labs are easy to train, so your dog should stay on his tail-waggin' butt in a matter of weeks.
Teach your lab to sit on command. Put your dog on a leash and keep your lab close to you by only allow 6 inches of wiggle room. Say “sit” and hold a treat one inch from your lab's nose. Slowly move the treat over your dog's head being sure to keep the treat one inch from your lab's nose, according to the ASPCA. As the nose goes up, the butt goes down. The second your lab's butt hits the ground, praise him enthusiastically and give him treats. Once your dog is successfully sitting for a treat, follow the same steps with an empty hand. Practice until your dog sits without hand movements.
Ask for help from a friend your lab hasn't met. Put your lab on a leash and give the sit command. Have your friend move towards your dog. If your lab stays sitting, having the friend praise him and give him treats. If your lab stands up or jumps, have the friend walk away. Continue these steps until the dog stays sitting several times for your friend, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Get strangers involved. If a stranger is approaching and asks to pet your dog, tell your lab to sit and only allow 6 inches of leash. Give the stranger a treat and tell the person they can pet your dog and give him a treat if the lab stays seated. Never make exceptions, even if the stranger says it's OK if your lab jumps, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Confine your lab when visitors arrive. Confinement is done with leashes, crates or baby gates or by putting your lab in a different room with the door closed. Confining does not stop the behavior, but it keeps visitors safe while your lab is being trained and it prevents reinforcement of the jumping behavior, according to Nan Arthur's Whole Dog Training.
Reward your lab for not jumping. Give your lab treats, praise, a walk and petting for not jumping. If he gets excited and tries jumping on you, stop the praise, walk away and ignore your lab. Keeping your dog from jumping increases the likelihood of him not jumping in the future, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
- Stay consistent. Never allow jumping during playtime or greetings and be sure all family members stick to the training.
- If possible, train labs while they're small puppies so the jumping behavior doesn't continue as the lab grows into an adult.
- A jumping lab can easily injure a child or frail adult.
- Never pet your dog while he's jumping since this rewards the jumping behavior, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
- Never physically punish your dog for jumping since punishment makes your dog jump more. In addition, do not yell since yelling gives your dog attention for jumping and encourages more jumping in the future.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.