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Jump Up, Jump Up, and Get Down! Please!

You love it when your dog greets you by throwing her front paws in the air and giving you a hug, and you laugh when your small dog jumps up and tries to kiss your face. The problem is, your friends and guests do not think it’s all that cute.

What do you do? One of my client’s emailed and asked for help. He and I used to laugh about his two dogs and the hugs they give. Both dogs are in the 80 pound range. He’s okay with it because they’re his dogs, and I’m okay with it for two reasons: 1. They each just give me one, non-annoying, totally sweet hug when I arrive. 2. I’m a dog lover. But not everyone who enters his house likes this, and it’s inevitable that the boys will knock someone down someday just out of excitement. My new task is to get them to stop jumping.

As soon as I arrived for our first session, I realized there was a problem: they weren’t jumping on me. How do you teach a dog, or dogs in this case, not to jump on people if they are not jumping on you? Easy. Teach them to jump first.

I used the words “up” and “off” for training. “Down” seemed like a bad option in case they already used that word with their dad to lay down on their bellies. I decided to work with each dog individually. The plan was 10-15 minutes with one dog, play time with both for 5 min, 10-15 minutes of work with the other dog, and then more play time.

The reason I taught them to jump first was so that they could jump on cue, and then they could also stop jumping on cue. If their dad wants either of them to give him a hug, he can say, “Up!” and get a hug from his pups. If they start to go crazy when a guest comes in the front door, a simple “Off!” will work.

To teach “up”:

1. Take a treat and raise it to your chin while saying “up.”

2. Say it once. If the dog does not jump up to the treat. Put your hand down and wait a minute before repeating. When training any new trick or behavior, never repeat the command. The dog will just think “I only have to do what she says after she says that word 4 times.” He should do it after one cue.

3. Give your dog the treat while saying “good up.”

4. Repeat 5-10 times in a row.

To teach “off”:

1. When your dog is in the “up” position, take a treat and lower your hand towards the floor (making sure he knows there’s a treat in your hand) and say “off.”

2. If he follows your hand, he will naturally put all four paws on the floor. Say, “Good off!” and treat.

3. Repeat.

Now it’s time to combine the two commands. The goal is to praise but not treat your dog until the entire sequence is complete.

1. Raise your hand to your chin, treat in hand, and say “up.”

2. Say “Good, up” and immediately lower your hand to the ground while saying “off.”

3. Praise and treat your dog.

4. Repeat

This method worked really well for both of the sessions I’ve had with these dogs so far.

No matter how big or small your dog is, always remember that your guests may not think it’s cute to have your dog bouncing up and down when they are trying to come in your house. I let my dogs jump on me, but they listen when told not to. Good luck with your jumping beans!


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