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Positive reinforcement more effective

Q: How can I stop Chester, my young pointer mix, from jumping on me and other people? I was advised to step on his toes, but I can’t get the coordination right. I was also told to knee him in the chest when he jumps, but that’s not working. Chester’s behavior has become a big problem since my mother broke her hip.

A: Chester is jumping on people because he wants attention. So let’s use that information and some positive reinforcement—which is always more effective than aversive training to get all of you what you want.

Start by ignoring Chester when he jumps on you. Turn your back to him, so you’re not making eye contact. Don’t speak to him. Raise your hands into your armpits so you don’t inadvertently pet him if he rubs his head against your hand.

As soon as he has all “four on the floor,” turn around and ask him to sit. When he’s sitting, praise him and pet him. If he jumps up, turn away and ignore him, and then repeat the process.

While Chester is learning to sit for attention, you’ll need to consistently reinforce his good behavior, always petting and praising him when he sits. He’ll soon learn that the best way to get your attention is to sit.

In addition, ensure that Chester has ample opportunity to play with you and run around outdoors to work off his energy. Join a doggie play group or an obedience training or agility group to add some fun activities to his life.

Editor’s Note: Finding the right dog trainer is important to unlocking our dog’s behavioral potential. With these tips in mind, you can find the best dog trainer for your pooch.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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