Play the Sit Game to Reduce Jumping!

May 6, 2023

Do you need to reduce jumping with your dog?  Teach him or her to sit instead using this fun simple game!

In my Basic Manners classes, one common complaint that people have is their dog jumps on people.  If we want to prevent a dog from doing something that we don’t like, it’s important to provide an alternative.  A great alternative to jumping is sitting.  Cue, the sit game!


Bonus: this game is also an excellent foundation for a stay behavior, so you’re really getting 2 for 1!  Couldn’t ask for a better deal than that!


Use Treats from Above to Reduce Jumping!


The first step for the sit game is to either cue the sit or let the dog offer the sit.  As soon as the dog sits, put your hand with a treat in it high above the dog’s head and quickly lower the treat toward the dog.  If the dog jumps up toward the treat, raise your hand up away from the dog.  I like to watch the dog’s front feet – if both feet leave the ground the treat goes away from the dog.  I want the dog to think that his jumping up caused the treat to go away.  As soon as the dog sits again, the treat lowers toward the dog.


In the beginning stages, I move fairly quickly with the treat so the dog can be successful, but it doesn’t take long for the dog to catch on.  I quickly raise criteria by slowing down the treat, and eventually moving it around and teasing the dog a little bit.  During this whole time, I’m building on success, always making it easier if the dog struggles.



During this process, you never need to say no or otherwise tell the dog when he or she has made a mistake.  All the communication the dog needs is that treat moving away.  He or she will figure out very quickly when s/he is right and wrong based on how the treat is moving.



Once your dog has figured out this game, have other people practice it.  If you practice with different people, the dog will generalize this game more quickly.  Pretty soon all it will take is someone putting their hand over the dog’s head and the dog will sit.


When your dog is getting it, try tossing the treat out away from you for the dog.  When the dog comes back after eating the treat, raise your hand up and see if the dog will sit.  If he or she does, praise him quickly and feed him (making sure those feet don’t come off the ground)!  As your dog becomes more solid with this game, you can work on increasing his or her excitement level.  Toss the treats further.  Come in through a door.  Knock on the outside door, then come in.  Pair the sit game with all the different scenarios in which your dog typically jumps up on you and/or other people.  Teaching your dog this sit game is sure to reduce jumping!


There are many strategies designed to reduce jumping up on people, and combining them will definitely get you the best results!  Add this game to your toolbox and see reduced jumping!

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