Mission No-Jumping: Week 1

After we wrote last week about Johnnie’s love for jumping up on people and how we wanted to teach her a better behavior, many of you had great advice. We put a few things into action over the past week since that post, and we’ve seen some success! Here is what we’ve done so far.

Management. Dogs often perform problem behaviors because they feel good to them. Johnnie loves to jump on people, so every time she does she gets reinforced for it, pretty much no matter the consequence (one reason why punishment can be ineffective). So what we have been doing is making sure she doesn’t even have the opportunity to jump in the first place by keeping her on leash when people come into our home or keeping her much closer to us when she’s meeting strangers in public. Many of you might be thinking, “Well if it was that easy, why don’t you just do it forever?” While we are keeping her from jumping, it’s still not her own decision – meaning if we didn’t have the leash on her, she’d still do it – and we don’t want that!


By preventing her from practicing the behavior of jumping, it becomes less of an engrained immediate response from her. This alone will not stop the behavior though, which brings us to the second action we’ve taken to begin teaching Johnnie that there are better decisions than jumping.

Teaching an incompatible behavior.  If we only told Johnnie “don’t jump,” we’d be leaving her with all sorts of guesses for what she should be doing. This is why we teach her what behavior we want instead, and we make sure this behavior is not something she can do at the same time as jumping (hence why it’s called an ‘incompatible behavior’).

Ideally, Johnnie would see a stranger and think, “Oh yeah, when I see new people I’m supposed to sit on a designated spot away from the door because that’s what gets me yummy treats and then the fun new people say hi to me!” We’re not quite there yet with J – in fact, we’re pretty far from it. But what we have found does work quite well is giving our guests or strangers some treats and having them ask Johnnie to sit before she gets to say hi to them (and, ideally, before she gets the chance to jump). This goes back to my last post about figuring out how to intervene so the humans get the treats before Johnnie gets to the humans. So far it has been pretty successful because we are also giving the humans an incompatible behavior to allowing Johnnie to jump up on them :-)


Right now we are working towards Johnnie being responsive when people she doesn’t know ask her to sit. She is doing well, but she can still get too excited to pay attention. Focus will be our next task, followed by what I mentioned before about truly teaching her an appropriate incompatible behavior for meet and greets. Slow and steady wins the manners race! We are getting there!

To adopt Johnnie Cash and help her learn awesome new behaviors, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

6 thoughts on “Mission No-Jumping: Week 1

  1. We’ve been working on this with our dog and she’s getting better at it….slowly. Most of the time when someone comes over we ask them to tell her to sit so she knows what she should do, like you mentioned. Sometimes she listens, sometimes she doesn’t. I’d be interested on how you teach Johnnie focus because that’s something we still struggle with with Ella. She gets so excited and cannot focus to save her life.

  2. Thank you for your tips on jumping…last year we adopted Charlie (6 yrs old) and he is an awesome pooch. He needed lots of leash work and proper social graces…..hence, jumping on people he is so happy to see and meet. We have the leash walking in check, but now we need to work on the jumping. He is great with all family members because they followed similar actions as you mentioned. My problem is getting people I don’t know on board with this. He has a comical face and strangers get high pitched voices (with lots of excitement in their tone) when they see him….I lose his focus and actually the strangers don’t even hear me ask them to ignore him until he settles down(their focus is lost too). :-/
    I think intervening with the treat is great….not sure if they are going to like getting their hands all drooled on though? I will give this idea a try….He has received his CGC this past summer, but I am hesitant on getting his therapy certification until his jumping is in check. That is a super no no for therapy dogs. Actually, this is a super no no in general! Thank you again for the tips!

    • Yep, a scene I know all too well with strangers! Honestly, if they don’t like having their hands drooled on then they don’t have to say hi to your dog, ya know? I have found it very helpful to, as people are walking towards us, say, “Oh wait! Let me hand you a treat so she can sit for you!” A lot of times people are then impressed by the fact that she’ll sit for them, so they’re less focused on wanting to get all up close and in her face. At that point since they’ve broken stride for half a second I can usually get in a line or two about how we’re working on her not jumping and thanks for helping out etc etc. My next trick will be getting a “We’re in training” vest or leash cover for her – I think that will really get people to slow down a bit! Good luck :)

  3. Since adopting deaf Mr B late last year we’ve been using hand signals with all the dogs. I’ve found that my hearing dogs actually respond better to a sit hand signal than a verbal command.

    • You are absolutely correct! Think about it: dogs don’t speak our human language, so it’s much more difficult for them to decipher English than it is to decipher body language, which is THEIR language. I try to teach all my dogs a hand signal first before the verbal cue, and they definitely respond to the hand signal more easily! But that’s a good thing to remind myself: tell people to use the hand signal when they ask her to sit. Thanks :)

  4. Pingback: Setting An Example for Lucy | Life With Beamer

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