Like any dog, Bronco loved greeting people. He ran to the door very excitedly whenever someone came over. Unfortunately, in the beginning he would jump up on people. He would put his paws on their shoulders or, worse, bump his nose into their noses. We eventually got him to stop doing this, but nevertheless we got some funny stories out of it. Of course we didn’t intentionally allow funny things to happen. We really tried to solve Bronco’s behavior issues, but it doesn’t hurt to tell the stories after the fact.
For example, when Bronco was young, we used to have windows on either side of our front door. The windows were placed around five feet up from the floor so that you could look out and in, assuming you were not too short. (We would later replace our front door and windows with something that felt more secure.) Back then, mail carriers and people delivering packages could look through these windows to see if we were home. It also meant that Bronco could easily look out the window himself if he stood on his hind legs.
One day, a UPS deliveryman rang our doorbell, and when no one answered, he placed his face at the window and shaded his eyes to see if anyone was home. That’s when Bronco’s big happy face slammed into the window from the other side. It was a sudden face-to-face encounter, complete with a big tongue. The UPS guy jumped backwards from the surprise. Then we opened the door and accepted the package. The man was somewhat shaken, but he was fine.
On another occasion, one of our neighbors came over to say hello to our new puppy. We’d had Bronco for almost a year by then, so he was big. As our neighbor entered our hallway, Bronco came running, and before I had a chance to stop him, he jumped up and put his paws on our neighbor’s shoulders. This man is somewhat short, so Bronco was able to lick his head, which he proceeded to do. Then Bronco did something we were totally unprepared for. You know the circus trick in which the lion tamer puts his head in the lion’s mouth? Yes, that’s the trick Bronco performed on our friendly neighbor.
Bronco was just playing and having fun, but that’s not how to greet a neighbor. I apologized profusely, but our neighbor said that it was perfectly all right and that there was no harm done. He looked a bit unnerved, and obviously he had not expected to be part of a circus act, but he said that Bronco was a wonderful dog and that he really loved the big galoot.
Despite what happened, our neighbor was always very nice to Bronco. However, for us that first encounter was a red flag. We had to get the jumping-up-on-people problem under control.
Leonberger puppies jump up on you and on visitors. But dogs jumping up on people is never a good thing. A little dog jumping up and touching the knee of a visitor may not be a big deal. In fact, some people think it’s sort of cute. However, with Leonbergers this problem is bigger—much bigger. A Leonberger jumping up on a neighbor and trying to swallow his head is embarrassing. A Leonberger jumping up on Grandma and making her fall and break her hip is a major disaster.
Leonbergers love jumping up on children, too, because they’re small, and this may frighten them. The children may even get hurt. Jumping up on people is something every Leonberger owner should be prepared to deal with.
One thing you can do is turn your back as soon as your puppy jumps on you. You can also put the dog on a leash and gently but firmly tug on it when he jumps. Removing him from the room for a while—giving him a time-out—may also discourage him from jumping. One thing that worked very well for us is filling a spray bottle with water and spraying it on the puppy when he jumps. We found that plain water was good enough. The surprise will deter him from jumping again (eventually).