Dogs Love to Jump, Let’s Put It on Cue

Two dogs up on a graffiti wall,

Christine from Oh My Shih Tzu had a family emergency come up so she won’t be able to post for today’s hop. I talked with her earlier and all is well and she looks forward to posting in next week’s hop!

I distinctly remember the first two times that Kayo’s jumps indicated to me that she was a serious jumper—and that I needed to have some control over it. The first time she walked out of the house ahead of me and my neighbor’s 4-year-old daughter happened to standing on the porch. Kayo jumped up on her before I could get outside. The little girl fell, was stunned but thankfully OK. The second time, my friend came over who’s a well-known actress. Kayo was 6 months old and it was their first time meeting. In her excitement, she jumped so high that her back legs kicked my friend in the face—yes, my friend whose face is worth lots of money. Oh, and she’s 5’8″.

Dog on the hood of a car,

After those incidences, I knew teaching Kayo to jump on cue would be important. I’d also heard about one trainer’s philosophy that says that when you teach one command or trick, it’s important to teach the opposite. He calls it the yin and yang of dog training. I use “up” for the jump command and “off” for its opposite.

Kayo the dog standing on a log,

Most dogs love to jump. Kayo fell into the category of dogs that do, so teaching her to jump on cue was easy. Without much work she learned that jumping up was only acceptable when it was on cue. She does get me sometimes when I’m not paying attention, like earlier today when she decided to give me her version of a kiss to let me know just how excited she was. Fun for her, slightly painful for me!

Kayo the dog up on cement,

In the beginning I didn’t give Kayo praise for jumping up because the jump was reward in and of itself. Down the road when I started with “urban agility”—using everyday stationary objects to engage our dogs in doing tricks—I began to reward her for jumping up onto something. These exercises became essential in helping build Kayo’s confidence, especially while we went through our behavior modification program for her aggression. At our nearby Jack London Square, there are statues of wolves and other characters that Kayo was afraid of. I worked with her to build her confidence around the statues to the point where she wouldn’t try to avoid them when we were near. Once we got to that point, I had her jump up onto one of the statues where she stood so proudly. The image alone of Kayo standing on the statue she was afraid to walk near was empowering to me and the act of doing it emboldened her.

Kayo the dog on a fountain,

There were once so many objects that Kayo was fearful of but I can’t even remember the last thing she was afraid of. Jumping up onto things has become one of our favorite activities. It gives Kayo the release she needs since she loves to jump while building her confidence and reinforcing that jumping is a reward that I control the timing of.

Kayo the dog up on a rock,

The idea of putting on cue behaviors that your dog takes pleasure in that might not be appropriate at all times is a wonderful one. I encourage all dog owners to consider this for certain behaviors, like jumping or barking. It’s always a good idea to work with a dog trainer to understand the reasons for the behavior and how to address them appropriately. Barking is another behavior that I’d like to put on cue so I will be working on that in the coming weeks and reporting our progress.

Kayo the dog up on a pile of wood chips,

Which of your dog’s behaviors have you put on cue or would you like to put on cue? What has your experience been?

This post is part of the Thursday Training Blog Hop with our co-sponsor Oh My Shih Tzu. Join us here every Thursday for training tales and tips.

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  • nailahbone

    Very interesting! I’ve heard people say putting a behavior on cue can either be a good thing or a bad thing. I personally haven’t done it but I don’t really think there’s any behavior that I really could do that with. The biggest issue we have with unwanted behavior is Niles crotch sniffing humans and jumping up on people holding babies and small dogs. Those would be interesting to put on cue! XD

    • BoingyDog

      Kayo jumping up on people is why I put jumping on cue. I think dogs learn quite quickly once you cue something that it should only be done on cue. I’ve not heard of it being a bad thing but I’d be interested in hearing that perspective – maybe I’ll look that up! ;0)

      • nailahbone

        Just a note, this was YEARS ago! So maybe it was just a lack of their understanding how the technique worked? I can’t even remember who it was that told me but I do remember putting it into my “should probably look into it” memory bank… and then I never looked into it! XD

        • Jen deHaan |

          I have also heard this (some reasons not to put undesirable actions on cue), but I too can’t remember the reasoning behind it.

          I’ve certainly used a ton of capturing > cue, very easy with Mort and perhaps a bulk of how he’s learned. For lots of the undesirable stuff, mostly used the incompatible behavior technique with him, but only because his down is rock solid and I really wanted to enhance it during intense excitement for an “emergency down”. Down and wait is pretty incompatible with most of the things I wanted him to stop doing. Wasn’t too enthused about the learning process of a “eat us when we’re trying to trim your nails” cue though :)

          • BoingyDog

            I can definitely see why many things you wouldn’t want to put on cue because you simply want to teach the dog that it shouldn’t ever be done. Especially when it comes to working breed dogs though, it’s wonderful to learn how to allow those behaviors in structured ways. It’s AWESOME when the dog learns to think about the situation and decide when to exhibit a behavior or when not to, or to simply refrain unless you give them the go-ahead. The concerns could simply come from trainers working more with family dogs where relationship might not be as strongly emphasized. I am interested in the perspective though so I’m definitely gonna look it up! ;0)

          • Jen deHaan |

            Totally! Definitely don’t want to cue Mort chomping my hand, then never use that cue :) Although if he was slower, less intense, or gave more of a signal, one could probably teach him a cue for the immediately preceding behavior or something and maybe succeed. Not for the feint of heart or family dog owner!

            I seem to recall some behavior/learning concern, something that I didn’t particularly agree with (because the opponents said it should never be used) but it was intriguing. Whatever it was. I’m not very useful today!

          • BoingyDog

            I hear ya! I’m not useful most days of the week! ;0)

  • Alfie Entlebucher

    Our Alfie is an Entlebucher Mountain Dog – a Cattle herding breed who are known for their ‘cattle leaps’. He frequently jumps up to lick my face too! We’re doing the January train your dog month challenge and interestingly I built in some urban agility too in this week’s training! :-)

    • BoingyDog

      Awesome! I’ll be hopping over to your post in a few minutes – looking forward to it!

  • Jen deHaan |

    Love it! That’s pretty similar to my “That one” cue with Mort (I wrote about balancing on things – part 1 – in this weeks post for the Tuesday Tips), one cue to jump up on what I’m pointing at. Completely useful for the urban agility! It was one of those cues that came about by accident… noticed I kept saying it when just going for the visual to start, and it stuck as the verbal cue.

    I didn’t get my post done for this weeks hop – still half written :( Perhaps I’ll add the balancing post mentioned above, since it’s related and at least from this week!

    • BoingyDog

      That’s the best pic and caption – I love it! Thanks for adding your post too, I’ll check it out. Kayo and I are working on something similar and I love your cue. Right now I use the “up” command and look where I want her to jump but I would love to have a command or stronger cue if there are multiple places for her to jump. Very cool what you’ve taught Mort!

  • Kimberly Morris Gauthier

    Our dogs love to jump and I never thought to put it on cue. I’ll have to talk to our trainer about working on this one.

    • BoingyDog

      Awesome – can’t wait to see where it goes! ;0)

  • Jessica @ Life with Duke

    How cool! I love the idea. Looking forward to reading more tips in your blog hop in the future!