Friday, November 29, 2013

Posing Up and Down

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Comet, Jax, and I decided to take a long walk through Timberlands Preserve in Guilford. We've been there a few times before, but today we did more than a little loop. We managed to make a five mile trek out of our exploration.

We were about halfway through when I took this picture, and Comet is clearly having the time of his life.
I guess all of our work in agility class paid off. Comet walked from the torn up stump of this tree on the hill to the right all the way out to the middle, all while nonchalantly holding a tennis ball he found. He was even willing to hang out there, cool as a cucumber, while I fumbled for the camera.

Jax followed him partway out but jumped off and then stood underneath, giving alternating funny looks to Comet and to me.

We capped out the day by taking a sunset group shot together. The dogs were, as always, really good sports about being posed, and it's great proofing for the daily stay when the handler does something weird and new like hunkering down in front and below.

So it ended up being a bit of a day for posing up and down.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dog Safety on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving offers lots of opportunities to have fun with family and dogs, but it also poses some risks. Some of these risks are fairly obvious, but if this is your first time hosting a large number of guests and making a large number of dishes, here are some things to keep an eye on.

Grynn knows how to beg on command,
but she doesn't beg during mealtimes.

Holiday Foods and Dogs

Your guests may not be up to speed on some common food items that can hurt dogs. The veterinary ER invariably has a surge of visitors on or after Thanksgiving because not every visiting family member realizes that their urge to give a dog a special treat on Thanksgiving may do a lot more harm than good.

A little tidbit of lean, cooked turkey is a nice thing to share with your dog on a special day. That's wonderful on its own. However, if several guests are slipping your dog turkey under the table, it may go from fun to dangerous pretty quickly. Dogs are at risk for pancreatitis if they eat too much fat too fast, and there's a lot of fat on a turkey, especially in the skin. If dogs eat a significant amount of skin or fatty meat, they may need a trip to the ER. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, hunching up, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. Acute pancreatitis can be fatal in rare cases, so take this one seriously and make sure your dog doesn't get a ton more fat than normal.

Most dog owners know that cooked bones can splinter when a dog chews them, causing a significant risk of perforation or obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. However, not every guest may know this, and a well-intentioned aunt or uncle may want to slip your dog a turkey leg when they're done with it—dogs love bones, right?

Another concern is the turkey carcass you leave behind after you've carved the meat off. Some families leave it in the kitchen to be picked later, which means it's unattended during dinner. Some leave it on the dining room table, which means it's unattended after dinner. Either way, that big, tantalizing carcass can tempt even a dog with good manners to break the rules and pull it to the floor. That means the potential both for your dog to ingest cooked bones and to ingest far too much fatty meat and skin. Keep an eye on your dog and your carcass. If you're like us, you'll pick the remaining meat and get those turkey bones straight into a big pot so you can start making your turkey soup stock right away.

There are also the other common foods that are fine for people but potentially dangerous for dogs, and again, your guests may not all know not to give these foods to dogs. If you put raisins in your stuffing, for example, it's not safe for a dog to have it. Some dogs don't appear to be sensitive to grapes and raisins, but there is documented evidence that some dogs can experience renal failure after consuming a relatively small number of grapes or raisins.

Chocolate is also a concern in holiday gatherings. There is a chemical in chocolate (theobromine) that's toxic to dogs. It takes a relatively large dosage to cause poisoning in a dog, but it does happen. Theobromine is found in higher concentration in darker chocolates, so don't worry if your dog ends up swallowing a couple of M&Ms. However, if your dog consumes a very large amount of chocolate or gets at any dark chocolate or baking chocolate, you could have a serious situation on your hands.

Turkey, raisins, and chocolate seem to be to be the biggest concerns at Thanksgiving, but you can check out my list of foods that are known to be toxic to dogs or even print it out and keep it on the fridge for reference if you want to make sure your family and guests are aware of the common threats.

If you're worried about your guests' knowledge or responsibility, consider crating your pup during the actual Thanksgiving dinner itself or for any other part of the gathering in which there might be a risk to your pup. If you have a relatively small number of guests or if they're all experienced dog people, dinners like this can be a good time to work on your dog's manners or to work on teaching your dog to go to his spot while folks are eating. However, if you're not sure, there's a pretty big risk of your dog getting something that he shouldn't eat, and there's also the issue of having your dog get rewarded for begging around the table, which some folks find endearing but many of us find annoying.

Comet is a well-behaved guest when he visits my family for Thanksgiving.

Guest Dogs

One of my favorite parts of holidays is getting together with our extended Golden family. Between my parents, my sister's family, and us, there are four Goldens. Even though they get along famously, that many dogs does require a watchful eye, no matter how stable and well-behaved they are. If your guests are bringing dogs, be sure that they've had a chance to meet and get used to each other before the big day if you can. You want to set them up to feel relaxed and comfortable around each other, and the excitement and disturbance of a large family gathering can raise the anxiety level of some dogs and undermine their ability to relax and feel safe around new dogs. Try to have first greetings be outside and off leash if you can, as leashed greetings can interfere with dog body language and create problems where there don't have to be any. Indoor greetings are OK too, but again, take the dogs off the leash and try to do it before the party in a quiet area of the house.

Also realize that not all dogs really get along. You can set two dogs up to have a positive first interaction, but you can't guarantee that they'll be friends. If you have two dogs that seem to get at each other, leaving them underfoot during a noisy party is probably only going to make the problem worse. You may have to have them take turns in a crate and work on their relationship another time.

Open Doors

Last Christmas, as Andy and I were leaving my sister's place in Boston, we came across an old Golden in the middle of the road. Fortunately, she was docile and friendly and allowed me to leash her and walk her out of the road. Looking up and down the road, we decided to knock on the door of a nearby lit-up house to see if they knew where she belonged. Sure enough, that was her house, and the family who lived there was very surprised that she had slipped out. In the hustle and bustle of folks coming in and out, she had walked out the door unnoticed. If things had been just a tiny bit different, we might have hit her. It's not an onerous task to keep an eye on the dog if members of the nuclear family can take turns being the designated dog-watcher.

Jax has mastered the art of charming the other guests in order to get petted.

Training Opportunities

Holidays can provide some training opportunities for you and your pup if you're not also playing full-time host. You can practice greeting friendly strangers as they enter the house if you're working on not jumping or other greeting skills. You can teach your pup to go to his spot in the dining room while people are eating, and you can reward him with turkey from the table (an article on "go to your spot" is coming soon). You have to make the judgment call based on where you are in your training, how big your gathering is, and what hosting roles each family member has, and don't be afraid to let your dog take short shifts in the crate when there's too much going on. It's better for the dog to spend a little time in the crate than to get untrained, overfed, or let out into the street by your well-intentioned extended family.

Untrained Humans

If you do have your dog out and enjoying the holiday with you, which is obviously the goal, be sure to train the humans so they don't hurt or untrain the dog. Uncle Fester might think he's great with dogs, but if he's leaning way in and speaking loudly in the dog's face, you need to intervene, either by crating your dog for a while or by crating the misbehaving Uncle.

The same goes for children. Your kids might be amazing with your dog, but children really have to be trained in order to have a positive interaction with dogs. It should go without saying, but it often doesn't, that children should not be allowed to poke dogs' faces, yank their fur or tails, or climb on dogs. And the majority of dogs don't like hugs by default. Some do, and some can be trained to like it, but for most dogs, the default setting is that they do not enjoy being encircled and held. Just because the dog tolerates being manhandled by a child without biting the child doesn't mean it's fair to the dog. The humans might think it's cute, but chances are the dog is feeling stressed and unhappy.

You are your dog's only advocate when it comes to untrained humans, so step up and either train the humans or remove the dog from the situation.

Set Your Dog Up to Succeed

If you do decide, as we usually do, to have your dogs in the main part of the party for the whole thing, it really helps to get up a little earlier and take them for a long walk or hike to tucker them out before the party starts. A well-exercised dog is a much better host or guest than a dog who didn't get his daily brain and body workout.

And be sure to catch your dog making good choices. It's much easier and more pleasant to train your dog that begging leads to nothing and that lying down quietly leads to treats and petting.

Summer Joins the Daily Stay

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Summer's learned how to stay since our last group photo, so when my parents visited and hiked with us, we were able to do a proper daily stay. It's impressive that she can hold a stay when she's still such a teeny puppy, but at the same time, she's a whole lot bigger than she was in our first group shot.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loose Leash Walking

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When I first trained Gus to behave politely on the leash, I trained him not to pull by popping the leash gently when he pulled. It was really just a jangle of his tags to remind him to pay attention, not a nasty yank or anything particularly painful or intimidating, and it worked. He became a dutiful non-puller on the leash. I thought I had to teach him not to pull.

When he and I went to CGC classes that were much more geared around motivating a dog with rewards and catching him doing the right thing, we went from a strong team to a happier, stronger team. He was a great teacher. He taught me that I could train him the old fashioned way, and he'd come through for me bigtime, but he also taught me that he'd do even better if I stopped worrying about showing him he was "wrong" and focused on being super clear and motivating him when he was right. It was one of my first lessons in catching my dog doing something right.

I learned that, rather than teaching a dog not to pull, I could teach him to offer a loose leash; that was a real awakening for me. That's the mindset that this process is based on: you build a connection with your dog, and you extend that connection so that she learns to pay attention to you and offer slack on the leash. You can use a modified version of this to teach your dog truly precise heeling, but this article is focused on teaching dogs, even young puppies, to stay with you and behave nicely on the leash.

Have your dog sit facing you (on leash), show her a treat, and step backwards saying "OK, follow me!" or whatever "let's go" command comes naturally to you. Walk a few steps backwards, and then give a treat as the dog follows you, marking the behavior each time with a clicker or with a happy "yes!" At first, you need a high rate of rewards so your dog realizes that it's a fun game you're playing, and it's really important keep moving backwards as you reward, rather than stopping as you give treats. The behavior you're looking to mark and reward is staying connected with you and moving at the same time. It may take you even more practice than it takes the dog to get the hang of this, but that's just fine. One mistake to avoid here is luring. If you need to show your dog a treat at first in order to get her attention, that's OK, but as soon as possible, you want to teach your dog to follow you without having to see the treat. Hold the treats in a closed hand, reach out to the dog to give one, and then bring your hand back in to your chest.

Once you can walk backwards, mark, and reward smoothly, and your dog knows to prance along and watch you, it's time for the second phase. Some dogs are ready after a few trial runs with the backwards walking, but some may require a few sessions of walking backwards with high rates of rewards before they're ready to move to the second phase. If your dog doesn't keep attention on you when you try this step, go back to the previous step and practice it a few more times with nice high rates of reward so your dog really has it down.

For the second phase, put the leash, your right hand and the treats in your left, and start walking backwards, marking and treating as before. When you have a really good connection going, pivot clockwise and reward her with the treat when she reaches desired position at your left side. When she hits the spot right at your hip, mark it with your click or "yes!" and treat while still moving. It really, really helps to make sure she gets the treat when she's in the right spot. Remember that you're trying to teach her that being by your hip is fun and rewarding, so be sure to mark and reward her when she's there. Drop your hand down right along the seam of your pants and give the treat from a backwards-facing hand. Always reward along that pant seam and with the hand that's on the same side as the dog. If you reach forward to reward her, that's where she'll learn to walk. If you reach across your body to reward, you'll teach her to forge forward and come in front of you.

Peacock and her handler learn the pivot at Paws N' Effect in 2013.
So remember, for the pivot, you need to:
  • have the leash in the hand on the opposite side from where you'll want the dog.
  • have the treats in the hand on the side the dog is going to end up.
  • mark with a "yes!" (or a click if you're coordinated enough to have a clicker in your leash hand) when the dog is in the right position.
  • reward with your palm facing backwards.
  • reward at the outside seam of your pants.
  • reward while still moving.

It will take you several tries—or more—to get the hang of pivoting and rewarding. And you're going to need the hang of it because your dog is probably going to forge ahead of you right after getting the treat. If she does, change directions, say "let's go" (or whatever you've been saying), and walk backwards. This way, you're triggering her to remember the game you already worked hard to ingrain with her as super fun. Then, when you have her attention and have rewarded her a couple of times while walking backwards, you can try the pivot again.

You can also try this work indoors and take the leash out of the equation entirely. If you're the most interesting thing in the room, you can work on walking backwards, pivoting, and rewarding without worrying about having a leash in your offside hand. You can also throw the leash over your shoulder so it's out of the way as you work. The idea is to build a relationship and a connection to keep your dog around you, so you don't need to be pulling on the leash unless you are in a larger space and you can't keep the dog with you.

Play this game a couple of times a day for about five minutes, and remember that it's a fun game you play together, not rigid training to induce compliance. If she gets bored and it's hard to get her attention, you're playing for too long. You want to end games while she still wants to play, not after she's lost interest. And if you're having trouble coordinating your feet, your leash, and your treats, you'll get good at it faster if you practice in short sessions that are less likely to induce frustrations.

Don't forget to switch sides. In competition obedience, dogs heel on the left, but in the real world, you want your dog to learn to walk on both sides. If you only practice with your dog on the left, you'll teach her to try to get over there, even when you actually want her on the right. If you plan on competition obedience some day, you can use different words for each side, for example, "heel" on the left and "side" on the right.

Also, avoid the classic mistakes that folks make with leash skills. If your dog pulls, you must show her that it does not work. If she pulls towards a person she wants to greet, you cannot let her drag you over there at all. If she pulls and gets to greet, you just told her that pulling is what you want her to do when she wants to greet somebody. If, however, she pulls and you stop and wait her out and only let her move forward when she offers loose leash, you're teaching her that offering loose leash gets her where she wants to go.

Another classic mistake is luring for too long. You can lure a little when you're first walking backwards and teaching the game in the early stages, but when the dog is learning to walk by your side, you need to avoid using the treat as a magnet. Hold treats up by your chest or in the opposite hand and then pass them to the dog-side hand and drop that dog-side hand down to the seam of your pants to reward. Then bring it right back up out of her face.

After a few weeks of short sessions, you should have a dog who thinks it's super-duper fun to prance alongside you because when she does, you become a happy treat-dispensing machine. Once she starts to get the hang of it, you slowly phase the treats by asking for a longer interval between each, but always stay generous with your praise. Make sure to practice indoors, in the backyard, and out on the street, so the sense of the game carries from place to place and new distractions don't get in the way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Catch Your Dog Making Good Choices

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When I first started training dogs, I worked from a mindset that was geared towards motivation, shaping, and building a bond, but I bought into methods that often went right to mild and then escalating punishment as a first-line way of dealing with many common scenarios. I ended up with wonderful obedience, but I always noticed that the behaviors that were trained more with punishment were less reliable and less joyful than those trained more with rewards.

For example, I trained Gus to walk politely on a leash primarily by popping the leash when he pulled. It was really just a jangle of his tags to remind him to pay attention, not anything painful, and it worked fine. He became a dutiful non-puller on the leash. I thought I had to teach him not to pull, so I taught him that in a way that was relatively gentle but still had punishment at its core.

When I learned to make my priorities centered around motivation, rewards, and catching my dog doing something right, we had a real breakthrough.

Comet and Gus learned early on that recalls and check-ins are highly rewarded.
I learned that, rather than teaching a dog not to pull, I could teach him to offer a loose leash; that might seem like a pretty subtle distinction, but it was a real awakening for me. Even dogs who have a confirmed habit of bad pulling can be retrained by being taught that pulling doesn't work—not that it's unpleasant, simply that it's unsuccessful—and that offering a loose leash is rewarding.

Nearly everything in a real world scenario of having your dog be a good citizen in and out of the house can be trained in terms of teaching him what to do rather than teaching him what not to do. It's the difference between "it's wrong to be underfoot in the kitchen while I'm cooking" to "go to your spot out of the way if you want to stand any chance of getting some of this chicken."

The dogs and I are not only happier to train with this mindset, but I also get results a lot faster. I think it stands to reason that it would. I was telling my dog "quit it." Once I learned more about training, I moved to "quit it; do this instead; good dog." Now I do "that doesn't work; try something else; good dog." It's faster and more fun for all of us, since the dogs learn to try to figure out what I want, rather than fearing that they'll do something that will cause me to tell them "no." Now I work hard to catch my dogs making a good choice so I can reward it, rather than worrying about catching them doing something wrong.

I also try to keep my eyes open all day long to catch my dog doing something right. If we're on the coffee shop patio and he settles down to relax, I try to remember to share a little fragment of muffin once he's all calm and nice. That works much better to teach a dog to settle and stop begging than yelling at him for doing the wrong things. And I try not to take it for granted when my more mature dogs are immediately good gentlemen who lie down quietly on the coffee shop patio. I make sure to praise them, scratch their ears, and drop them a little reward once in a while in order to reinforce what they're doing. Sometimes we take a good behavior for granted one we have it, but if anything, the dog deserves even more rewards for being good on the first try, right?

If we're hiking, and my dog comes to check in without being asked, I try to remember to praise him or give him a treat for that, since it's a behavior I'd like to see more of. If he offers a polite greeting to a stranger, I remember to praise and pet him, rather than taking it for granted and only paying attention to his greetings when he's doing something wrong. You build stronger, deeper habits with these rewards, and your time with your dog centers around encouraging his good choices and building on them, rather than a stressful series of "no" to this and "no" to that. Faster, more effective, and more fun? Sign me up.

Take a look at your training goals, especially in areas where you and your dog are struggling to connect and be successful. Are you caught up in teaching your dog what not to do? Or are you finding opportunities to set your dog up to make a good choice so you can reward it? Isn't training more fun and rewarding when you're trying to catch your dog doing something right so you can praise and reward him?

Late Foliage

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Foliage season may be over on all the websites and guidebooks, but the myrtle stays green and the burning bush holds its leaves a bit longer than you'd think.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Dog for All Seasons

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There's no such thing as perfect weather. Some days really stand out to you as overwhelmingly ideal and beautiful, but others don't look so wonderful at first, but turn out to be just perfect for what you're in the mood for. Today, that was some wandering. Comet, Jax, and I headed out to Westwoods and Guilford and got happily lost for a while, finally circling back to the bluff above Lost Lake for a little photo time. The dogs had to be on stay anyway, since there was a small group of people eating sandwiches just to my left, so it made for a good opportunity to snap a photo of a couple of handsome dogs and some pretty scenery.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Teaching a Dog Not to Jump Up

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Most dogs like to jump up on friends and family, and most owners have to train their dogs to keep all four on the floor, especially during greeting times. There are a lot of different methods out there for eliminating this problem behavior, but some of it is unnecessarily harsh or complicated, and the harsh methods sometimes backfire. I've worked with dogs whose owners put e-collars on them and shocked them hard when they jumped on company. Methods like that are a recipe for disaster, and you often end up making the dog skittish and upset without doing much about the jumping.

Dazz does the good kind of jumping at Paws N' Effect, 2013.
Here's the understanding I favor for dealing with problem behaviors in general and for jumping in particular: dogs do what they practice, and they do what's rewarding. The more times a dog repeats a behavior, the more likely he is to do it in the future, and the more the behavior is rewarded, the more likely he is to choose it in the future. So if we practice things with our dogs and make them rewarding, the dogs learn to do them.

The flip side of that principle also helps us identify the source and solution to problem behaviors. If the dog is doing something you don't like, it's because that behavior is somehow getting practiced and rewarded. So you can reduce problem behaviors by preventing the dog from practicing them and getting rewarded for them. Improvement comes even faster if you can practice and reward an incompatible behavior.

For example, if your dog jumps on company, he's doing it because it's rewarding and because he keeps getting the opportunity to do it. Eliminating that undesired behavior means stopping him from practicing it and stopping him from getting rewarded when he does it. Teaching him an incompatible behavior, like sit, can accelerate the process.

Jumping is usually a prosocial behavior, a behavior intended by the dog to promote social interaction with the jumpee. Your dog is trying to play in order to greet and bond. He's trying to get closer to the face of the human or to check out whatever the human might be holding. It's quite counterintuitive to him to stay on the floor and wait for the human to greet him, so it doesn't seem sporting to me to punish the dog for being inquisitive and social.

Jax does a good kind of jumping in March 2013.
As humans, we typically want the bond, but we typically don't want a dog who jumps or mouths because that can be frightening or even dangerous. Jumping is very cute when a ten-pound puppy does it at ten weeks old, but when a sixty-pound adult dog does it, he risks ruining people's clothes, scaring people who don't know he's friendly, or even knocking over a fragile person.

If the dog jumps up and people start hollering and the jumpee pushes him, you may be accidentally rewarding him. The yelling means a lot of extra social energy, and the pushing is a cross between getting petted and playing. So don't do it. He wants social interaction, and he needs to show an appropriate behavior in order to get it. And don't use a method that hurts your dog, like stepping on his feet, hitting him, or shocking him. He's trying to play, and it's poor form to punish him for it instead of teaching him how to play appropriately.

So with jumping, you need to remove the opportunity to practice it, and you need to be sure he doesn't get a reward for jumping when he does it. Since it's a prosocial behavior, the first step is to show your dog that jumping backfires and doesn't give him the continued social interaction he wants. When the dog jumps up, remove all attention, energy, and excitement from the situation. That means looking away from the dog, being quiet, and keeping your hands off him. Turn sideways, fold your arms, and look up and away. Face a wall if you can so he can't come around front to jump more. Teach him that jumping makes humans boring. You're not just ignoring this behavior; you're nonrewarding it very precisely.

When he offers a different behavior that's appropriate, like keeping all four paws on the floor or even sitting, come back to life. You're rewarding him for showing appropriate behavior, and non-rewarding him for inappropriate behavior. Sometimes when you come to life, he'll jump again, so go back to being a statue. After a few repetitions, it'll start to click with him that the jumps are backfiring, but the polite behavior will get him what he wants.

As you try this, be aware that getting rid of an existing bad habit sometimes involves an extinction burst. When the behavior stops working, the animal will sometimes try it even harder for a short period. Just think of it from the dog's perspective: for a long time, the jumping has been working to make the people interact and make noise. When all of a sudden it stops working, the dog might try a jump, then try another, then try a whole series of more intense jumps. Why isn't it working!? This kind of burst can lead people to abandon a technique, right as it's about to work. If you abandon it right then and go back to yelling at the dog, you've taught the dog to be even more intense. He's just learned that the reason it wasn't working briefly was because he wasn't trying hard enough. So take extinction bursts for what they are: a sign that the behavior is about to improve.

If you're serious about tackling this problem, make sure to train the humans the dog is interacting with. If some are carefully nonrewarding him for jumping but others are yelling, pushing, or playing, that's going to undermine the dog's progress.

What if you are careful to nonreward your dog but he keeps jumping anyway? With some dogs, especially young ones who have not practiced a pattern of jumping, it's enough to be a boring statue for a few seconds and to reward a polite sit a few times. However, with dogs who really like jumping or with dogs who already have a confirmed jumping habit, the jump itself can be a reward, so removing the social interaction isn't always enough to break the pattern. It may be rewarding enough for some dogs simply to get closer to your face or to go through the fun athletic exercise of bounding up and down. In these cases, ignoring it isn't enough.

Another common scenario involves a confirmed jumper is simply too active to wait out. If you have kids or an elderly family member, or if your dog is scratching at you as he jumps, it can be unsafe and painful to try to just wait him out, especially through an extinction burst.

So if ignoring isn't decreasing the behavior, and you're absolutely sure you're not in an extinction burst, adapt the method. Try leashing the dog during greetings, and step on the leash so he can't jump. A six-foot leash is long enough to drop a loop down to the floor and step pretty quickly. If you do this, be sure the dog doesn't have more than an inch or two of slack. He can get hurt leaping upwards if he gets some momentum before he hits the end of the leash. You also don't want to give him too little slack and create downward tension. You still need him to feel rewarded when he's choosing not to jump, and being pulled toward the floor is definitely not rewarding.

Once you have the right length of leash between your foot and the dog, the greeter should ignore him while he's attempting jumps and interact with him when he chooses to keep all four on the floor. If he sits, try to give him enough slack to do so. When he's doing something right, you should try to keep tension off the leash and to reward him with attention or a treat. Set him up so you can prevent him from practicing the undesired behavior, but also set him up so you can catch him doing it right.

Regardless of whether you just need to ignore a little or whether you need to use the leash, make sure to teach your dog a rock-solid sit. I've already gone over some methods for teaching it, and if you consistently practice and reward the sit with your dog in lots of situations, you can use it as a behavior that's incompatible with jumping. If your dog has a strong sit, you can ask him to sit when he starts to jump. Reward him when he sits. If you have a strong sit trained, you can use it instead of a leash for habitual jumpers. If the sit's not quite strong enough, it won't work, so if you find yourself repeating "sit, sit, Baxter, sit" at your jumper, your sit's not strong enough for the situation, so don't weaken it by nagging a dog who's not obeying.

Between carefully applied ignoring, using a leash to prevent practice, and using sit as an incompatible behavior, you should be able to train away problem jumping pretty quickly. If it doesn't seem to be working for you, leave a comment with your issue and I'll try to figure it out with you.