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SG Susan Garrett
SG One of the most common questions that we get isn't “Susan, what did you have for breakfast?”
Although it's right up there. It's Susan, “how do I get my dogs to stop jumping on people?” And as
common as it is, the fix is actually quite simple. It's three steps and trust me, the third step is something
nobody would have ever told you before.
Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Before we jump into how to get her dogs to stop
jumping on people, I think it's important that we understand the why. Once you understand the why
your dogs are jumping up, then you can decide which tactic are/is going to work best for you and your
dog. Believe it or not the primary reason that dogs jump up is because they're rewarded for jumping up.
And you know, you could say “Susan no. Oh you got it wrong. I've never given my dog a cookie for
jumping up.” Stick with me on this because it started long before you ever got your dog. When puppies
are young, they're little and who doesn't like the smell of puppy breath. So, guess what? We sit on the
floor, we ‘coochie coo’, we encourage the puppies to come up and find our face and isn't this great.
And there's an old saying what you learn first, you learn best. So, puppies learn when you seek human
space good things happen you get all this love and attention and everything's amazing.
And then guess what? They stop being little puppies and we start standing up and they're like, “How do
we get to that face? I've got to get to that face.” They do the only thing they know how to do. And that is
to put the paws up to try to get to that face. Does it, it makes sense right? So, knowing that the
behavior is there partially because of human reinforcement.
Now let's face it part of it is just canine curiosity. “Guess what there's a big meatball on that counter. I'm
going to put my paws up to see it a little better.” So, your face, it could be the big meatball. No
disrespect. Don't take it personal. But your face could be that big meatball. You combine the meatball
face curiosity with all of that reinforcement they got as puppies. Is it any wonder that the default
behavior for dogs is put their paws up to seek the face?
Now, now that you know why you have two decisions to fix it. The one tactic that people will say is knee
the dog in the chest, tell them “Off, no”, give them a collar correction, let them know they're bad. And
some people will think that works, but it comes at a very deep cost. And I think if you are watching my
podcasts, that's not the life you want. That's not the kind of relationship you want with your dog. You
want to get solutions based out of kindness. And so, knowing that what we've got is there because of a
great history of reinforcement, let's just create a new history of reinforcement and fix it.
Three simple steps. You’re with me? Step number one. We’ve got to create the sit as a very high value
default position. So, I’m going to assume that you can get your dog to sit when you ask them on one
cue in any environment and they will stay there until you give them their release cue. I use the word
“break”, you might say “okay” or “free”.
If you don’t have that sit when I asked and release when I asked and you’d like to know more about
how I achieved that, jump over to YouTube, leave me a comment on this video and we'll plan to make it
part of an upcoming video.
So, step one, it's all about the sit. We want our dogs to sit beside us. What I call Reinforcement Zone.
Not out in front, beside us. And if that's a problem for you, what you might want to do is visit my video
called Perch Work (Pivots and Spins), because that gives your dog a target for their front feet. So, they
learn to hang out right beside you.
This is really important. Everything happens in front. So, if your dog is already facing you, they have to
redirect to what's happening out there. So, we got to get the dog to sit beside us on one cue. Now,
when I say one cue, how many times does that allow you to repeat the cue? Yeah, it's a little test. Little
test in middle of all this.
That would be zero. The dog sits on one cue. And if they don't sit reliably on one cue, they're giving you
feedback on your training. They're saying “What you think you taught isn't what I actually learned. So
maybe I'm not picking up what you're putting down. You've got to do it a different way.” Or in this case,
“I'm not picking up what you're sitting.” That didn't make sense, but you know what I mean.
So, one cue and one cue only. We get our dog value build in Reinforcement Zone. If you're going to
give your dog a treat around the house, ask them to get in Reinforcement Zone, give them the treat
there then release them, sit and release. This is the habit we want to create a default, anything good
that happens in the dog's world they need to sit and then release.
Once you've got that brilliantly now what I want you to do is we're going to put your dog on a leash. So,
you can start with a short leash, and I would recommend maybe you put the dog on a harness to do
this rather than to put them on a collar. This is called the wandering sit stage.
So, as you're out and about with your dog on leash, you are going to randomly say “sit” and get that
same snappy behavior where the dog just plops their butt down, you will then move forward to meet
the dog in Reinforcement Zone before you give them a cookie and then the release. The wandering sit.
Here's your assignment. 25 wandering sits a day for seven days.
You can do that while building in part two of the assignment, but I'm getting ahead of myself. We've got
our wandering sit and once that's brilliant, you're going to add part one and part two of your sit
homework. And that is ask the dog to sit beside you in Reinforcement Zone, give them the release
word “break”, which means move out of position. And once they move, ask for another sit.
So, it's going to be sit, release, sit, and then you come up and reinforce that and that's the end of that
game. So, three parts of your sit homework. Lots of fun. It's just a game. It's all about rewarding your
And remember if they don't get it right, don't go and help them. Go back to where you lost them and
build up from there. It's not about you helping them to get this right. It's about them understanding and
seeing great value. This is all about a value build at every stage. They see great value for doing what
we're asking and they're going to do it immediately.
Step number two, learning to greet. Now, if you remember here on Shaped by Dog, I talked about the
invisible bubble of pressure. And what that is, is for some dogs they're sensitive about people coming
into their zone and they will react in a way that shows it. Maybe they will back away. Maybe they will
jump up in an anxious kind of frenetic energy. Whatever it is we want to test what your dog's natural
response is to people coming near them. We're going to do this in a way that the dog can be
So, number one, if you've played Crate Games, that's a great way. Our dogs understand the criteria.
The crate doors open, and I just hang in there until I get a release. So, the first thing we're going to do
is you're going to be beside the crate, somebody's going to walk up to your dog, and you're going to
feed the dog and see what their reaction is. Do they start wiggling? Do they start paddling their paws?
So, you're going to go “Well hmm. They started paddling the paws when the person got about six feet
away. Let's start reinforcing them about seven feet away.” So that the rehearsal of the paddling the
paws when the person comes near starts to go away. Your dog understands you're there to give them
reinforcement. You're there to be their big protector and defender so there's no need for them to get
So, number one, can we do it in a crate? Number two, can we do it in a Hot Zone? If you're not familiar
with Hot Zone training, I'll leave a link right here on this video where you can click on the puppy games
and learn about how we start the Hot Zone training. It's something like this. Pardon the pun, my puppy
This! is lying on a raised surface. She understands she doesn't leave there. When people come to
greet her there, she can sit, she can down, she can stand. There is no criteria for her other than no
paws come off of the Hot Zone. So, it gives the dog the opportunity to learn about greeting people
without putting their feet up.
If they make a mistake and they come up off the person greeting before the paws come up to touch
them, they just take a step away and turn their back. Taking out the reinforcement of number one,
attention, stepping away from the Hot Zone so the dog can't touch them. No reinforcement to be had.
And you take a mental note, ‘let's do this again and I'm going to reward my dog for making good
choices’. Value build on the greeting behavior.
Now we're going to add number one to number two. Your dog's going to be in the Reinforcement Zone
on a leash. You are going to have somebody you know come close and stand in front and talk to you.
Two seconds. “Hi Susan, how's it going?” You're going to feed your puppy because ideally, they're not
paddling or getting excited. If they are just put a perch down to give them a target for those feet. See
how it all comes together. Value build, value build.
Next, the person's going to come in and talk to you and then say hi to your dog. All goes well, you're
going to feed. Make sure you are not using the food to prevent the dog from making a mistake. This is
about trying to evaluate what your dog is understanding. Do you understand when you're in
Reinforcement Zone that you need to stay there. Once that's brilliant now we're going to go to the third
step of the greet. And this is the biggie.
Now we're ready for the most important stage. And this is one that I have never seen anybody do. And
it's the one that helps drive these lessons home. And its stage number three, it's the re-greet. Here's
what happens. What a dog rehearses they get really good at. And so, what we want to do is have that
person maybe stop six feet away from your dog or two meters. And you are going to take your dog on
a leash and you're going to say “go see” which means nothing to the dog right now.
You're going to say, “go see” follow it by the word “break”. And as the dog comes into the stranger or
the person you know you're going to say “sit”. So, the dog may or may not sit, but before they get a
chance to respond you're going to call them back. Call them right back, give them a cookie and do it
They got a chance to come close but not jump up. And now you are going to bring them back. So, it's
let them go see, call them back, let them go see, call them back. Eventually you're going to let them go
see, and you're going to ask them to sit, and the person can talk to them. They can pat them. They can
eventually get to that level.
When I take my puppy out to meet people the first go see she may make a mistake and start to put her
paws up and I'll just call her back before she gets a chance to do it. It might take at first 10 go sees, the
last three are good ones. But very quickly it might be, I'll do five go sees. And I get the last three are
good ones and only two that aren't great. And very quickly they're all great. So, it's the re-greet of the
If you were to do 100 greeting of people, just one time greeting, you would not get near the success of
doing just 10 people but doing 10 re-greets. And by the way, who's got a hundred people randomly
hanging around their house. If you have two people, you could just do as many as it takes to get three
good ones where your dog comes in and sits— three in a row, three in a row. The dog comes in and
sits, gets greeted. The person greeting could even give your dog a cookie. If you get to that stage and
then you call them back.
So, it's the greet and re-greet that teaches the dog the value of this is a best way to greet people. Good
things happen when you greet this way. It’s nowhere near as fun as putting your paws up on a human.
Listen, as I said it's simple and it's easy. It just requires you making the time in your life to play a game
with your dog. It's an investment in having a dog who has an amazing future at greeting people. And
who wouldn't want that for their dogs.
I'll see you next time here on Shaped by Dog.