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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ask the Dog Trainer, with Terry Lynn Cuyler:
Help My Friendly, Jumping Lab!

by Terry Lynn Cuyler, APDT, CPDT-KA
© courtesy tlc
Dear Terry:

My friendly Labrador Retriever likes to greet everyone he sees with too much jumping. I have tried everything I have heard about or read about with no luck. The biggest problem is that people encourage him. I cannot get to them fast enough to ask them to turn their back and ignore him.

I came upon a no-jump training harness online and want to know if this is safe. This picture caught my eye as the dog looks much like mine. Can you share some tips on this or another technique that will work when I do not have control over other people's responses? 

Thank you, Marsha
Dear Lab owner,

Our wonderful Labs are so friendly they feel they have to jump up to properly greet everyone.  And some friends encourage them--horrors.  Here are several tips:
  • A sign on your door (like mine above) might remind guests to wait till your dog sits before petting.
  • Having your dog on leash on a flat buckle collar is much easier  than getting him in the contraption you sent a link to, which constrains the dog from jumping up by the use of a leg to shoulder harness.  Just hang a leash near the door and have it ready when guests ring the bell.  
  • Step on it so there is a J between your dog, under your foot and with the handle of the leash in one hand.  You are free to open the door with the other, but your dog can only pop up an inch or so.  Not very satisfying, so it doesn't get him what he wants.  And YOU have control so you don't have to rely on others to do the right thing; they often don't.  
  • The above method works for greeting out on walks as well.  
  • If you have some treats in your pocket that you can give your dog when he sits, then 'SIT' works better than jump up.  
  • Make sure he gets NO attention for jumping, especially pushing him down, which can be conceived by the dog as play.  
  • Face harnesses, like the Gentle Leader can work. My favorite is the Freedom body harness which has a leash attached on the chest is easy to manage and works well with the step-on-the-leash regimen.  Check out this harness at Wiggles Wags Whiskers or learn more by watching the video below.
  • Dogs jump because they get access to our faces and attention.  Take away that access and attention and jumping ceases to be rewarding. Reward a sit and that's even better.  
  • You can also replace that behavior with an alternative such as running to get a toy to offer the guest, or giving a paw to shake. This way the dog can DO something, that is human-approved and be rewarded by the attention he craves. 

© courtesy tlc
Our ASK THE DOG TRAINER Column can be reached at

For more information on Terry Lynn Cuyler and her training, you may find her at Paws ProfA personal appointment with a trainer will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

The PawsProf's advice does not replace an actual consultation with a qualified trainer.
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