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2014 Best Of

Training Articles

Jumping Jimmy

by Maureen Hagggerty

If “Jimmy” jumps up on you, step into him to take over your space and cross your arms and be still. Take away what he wants: your attention. If you were playing with him when he jumped, stop the play and stand still. You are removing any reward in jumping so the behavior is not reinforced.

Mark Jimmy’s inappropriate behavior with a “no reward marker”, by making a sound of disgust, like "Eh!" Do not continue to verbally scold or push him away. Yelling and moving (especially pushing) escalates excited behavior. .

When you become still, your dog will momentarily respond with his feet falling to the ground. When his paws hit the ground, give him what he wanted, your attention. Give him attention with very calm praise as to not rile him up into jumping again. If you had treats in your hand, give him a little treat. If Jimmy is quicker than you and jumps up as you bend down to greet him, withdraw yourself again immediately.

Some dogs may continue to jump on you as you walk into the house. If this is the case, immediately step back and shut yourself out behind the door. Wait a few seconds; then open the door. If all four feet are on the floor, say, "Yes" and begin to pet, praising calmly, and treat. If your dog jumps up on you, shut yourself out again. Your goal is to “catch” him with the behavior you want (all four on the floor), so you can let him know by marking the behavior ("Yes") and rewarding him.

If Jimmy already has a great “sit” on cue, take the guess work out for him and tell him what to do to get your attention. Ask your dog to sit as he is coming toward you, before he jumps. If he has already jumped step into him and sternly say, "Sit!." When he is calm, reward him with calm attention. Showing your dog what behavior you expect, will help him learn that much faster!

Have fun with your training!