It is generally accepted that animals move in a way that minimises energy use during regular gait and there is evidence that the principle might extend more generally to locomotor behaviour and manoeuvres. Jumping during locomotion is a useful manoeuvre that contributes to the versatility of legged locomotion and is within the repertoire of many terrestrial animals. We describe a simple ballistic model that can be used to identify a single unique trajectory of the body s centre of mass that minimises the mechanical work to initiate a jump, regardless of the approach velocity or take-off position. The model was used to show that domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) demonstrate complex anticipatory control of locomotor behaviour by systematically using jump trajectories close to those that minimised the mechanical energy of jumps over raised obstacles. It is unclear how the dogs acquired the complex perception and control necessary to exhibit the observed behaviour. The model may be used to investigate whether animals adopt energetically optimised behaviour in any similarly constrained ballistic task.