Just Knee Him In The Chest

I was out for a nice walk with my family the other day. We have this great park with an ocean view that we all like to check out.

The spot was full of people and their dogs. The area is supposed to be an on leash area but as most rules go some people decided to have their dogs off leash anyway. Not a great practice but not bothersome to us.

At one point a really friendly, medium sized dog approached our group. The dog was off leash and quite young. My step daughter asked the owner if she could pet her dog and the lady said of course. She said her dog loves children. My step daughter went to pet the dog and the dog jumped on her. It’s not a huge deal as my step daughter is well versed in dogs and simply asked the dog to sit. This didn’t however stop the owner from requesting that my child knee her dog in the chest! She was quite sure this would stop the dog from jumping up.

This is one of those moments where the dog trainer in me just goes crazy. Some of the thoughts that run through my head:

  • She’s asking my child to be physically violent to a dog
  • She’s asking my child to train her dog for her
  • She’s willing to allow her dog to be injured
  • She’s not using a leash and yet she’s concerned about her dog jumping on us
  • She hasn’t moved an inch to call her dog or come get her dog since he’s jumping up

So after all those thoughts went through my head we went on our way. However that means there’s this big gap in knowledge that the average pet owner might not know – how do you train a dog to stop jumping on a person?

Well there’s not one perfect way. There’s a method I use that works pretty great though. We teach the dog to sit.

It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s what we all want. Now why didn’t she think of that? Most likely because training a dog to do what we want is harder than punishing a dog for doing something we don’t want them to do. I find that most people are willing to focus on the problem rather than the solution. So any time you have an issue with your dog ask yourself this: what would you like your dog to do instead? And then teach them what you want.

Here are my steps for teaching a dog to greet politely:

  1. Teach my dog how to sit on cue (hand signal plus verbal command)
  2. Teach my dog how to sit on cue with distractions around
  3. Teach my dog to sit on cue every time a person walks by
  4. Teach my dog to stay
  5. Teach my dog to stay with distractions
  6. Teach my dog to sit and stay while people walk by
  7. Teach my dog to sit and stay while I pet him/her
  8. Teach my dog to sit and stay while other people we know pet him/her
  9. Teach my dog to sit and stay while strangers pet him/her
  10. Teach my dog a great recall in case he/she is ever about to jump up


It looks like a lot of work but honestly it isn’t that hard. If you need help then find a great positive reinforcement trainer to work with you on sit and stay. They are crucial life skills for dogs. You could even do a great stand stay if you don’t want to ask for a sit at all.

And without further ado here’s a great article by Stanley Coren on how to keep a dog from jumping on people. Click here for article. Just in case you want to learn more about this topic.

Please never ever ask someone to injure your dog in order to train them. Whether it be yourself or a stranger this isn’t a safe or an effective way to train your pet.


About Where's Your Sit?

Where's Your Sit? is a dog training company based in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Owned and operated by Jade Zwingli who has over 15 years' experience working with animals of all kinds.
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