No way to say hello!

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Tony Cruse advises a reader on ways to deter his dog jumping up to greet people.

Q: What is the best way to teach my Hungarian Vizsla not to jump up and put muddy paw prints all over the trousers of other dog walkers? 

He will spot someone and rush over to say hello, and often it isn’t always appreciated! 

I now put him straight on his lead if I see someone coming towards us, but I’m not always quick enough. I would also prefer him to learn not to do it if possible. He is 18 months old.

Lester Clarke, Hampshire.

A: Tony says: Jumping up can be a habit that is reinforced by previous episodes. It only takes one person to enthusiastically greet a jumping dog for the behaviour to increase. Similarly, a person offering the dog a treat or ball held high will encourage him to jump. It is difficult to control how other people behave, but a good rule of thumb is if you are unsure of the situation, pop your dog on the lead. 

As you mentioned, not everyone wants a dog running at them and jumping up. Rather than teaching him not to jump up, perhaps it is better to encourage him to check in with you instead. You are looking for a tangible behaviour to train and not an unwanted one to try to curtail. Every time he spots someone else, pip a dog whistle and produce a tasty treat or his ball. As he comes to you, gently hold his collar, connect the lead and produce the reward. Over time, the presence of other people will mean he checks in with you to gain the food or ball.  

If the other person is a friend, you can approach them with your dog on a lead in a more controlled way. Before he jumps up, randomly drop treats on the ground. Rather than jumping UP, your dog will soon learn to look DOWN for a treat. If he does jump up, gently guide him away from the person using the lead before continuing the chat.