Can you safely open your front door and trust your dog won’t bolt through it? Do you dread the sound of the doorbell due to the impending ciaos? Here’s some simple steps to follow if your dog lacks ‘door manners’:
Step 1: Begin training with no distractions
All training should be done in baby steps and in ways that set your dog up for success. So in order to show your dog appropriate door manners, start with no distractions. Turn your phone off, send the rest of the family out for ice cream and make sure you aren’t expecting any visitors. If you have an unfocused dog, see get your unfocused dog’s attention.
Step 2: Start the lesson with patience
Bring your dog to the door. Tell them to ‘wait’. Use ‘wait’ instead of ‘stay’. Stay means ‘stay still until I release you’, but wait means ‘wait here’. It’s unrealistic to expect your dog to ‘stay’ every time you pass through a door. But they can certainly wait! Some trainers will also tell you to have your dog ‘sit’. But let’s be real, you’re not gonna have your dog ‘sit’ every time you pass through a door. Your goal is door manners and patience in real life situations. But if your dog won’t calm down and ‘wait’, the make them sit so they learn patience.
Now stand still for at least 10 seconds then praise them for a ‘good wait’. If they get impatient, verbally give them a quick ‘AH’, and tell them to wait again. With training, timing is everything! If your correction isn’t timed properly training will be nothing but a losing battle.
Practice this 5-10 times in a row a couple times a day for 2 days, but increase the time your dog waits each time. Keep lessons short and always end with them doing it right so you can praise.
Step 3: Introduce the door
Once your dog will wait at the door, it’s time to move to the next step. Put your hand on the doorknob but don’t open it yet. If your dog waits, take your hand off and praise them. As in step 2, increase the time your hand is on the doorknob. When your dog will wait patiently for 20 seconds without getting impatient, it’s time to open the door. So go through all the same steps as above but this time open the door. This part of the lesson should only take 1 or 2 repetitions over the course of a day.
Step 4: Go through the door
Now that your dog has patience at the door, you can start to go through it. But make sure they don’t try to come. If they do, say ‘AH‘ and put them back where they were. Then try again. Your goal is to go through the door without your dog following. Once you can successfully do this, it’s time to add distractions.
Step 5: Add distractions
Ask a friend for help. Explain to them you’re teaching your dog door manners. You need them to come over, knock on the door, then just wait there. When you hear the door, get up and go through steps 2 -4. Never open the door for your friend until your dog is waiting
patiently. Keep practicing. Your goal is to get to the point where you can open the door and let your friend in without your dog running out. And ask your friend to ignore your dog when they first enter to help set your dog up for success. Once your friend is in and the door is closed they can greet your dog. If you’re having problems with your dog jumping up at your guests see train your dog to stop jumping up on people. If you’re having issues with this lesson due to separation anxiety, click here.
- Be consistent!
- Now that your dog knows the door rules make sure everyone in the house follows them!
- Never let your dog go through the door before you.
- Always make sure you invite your dog to go through the door.
- If your dog ever pushes through the door go right back to step 1.
- You need to take this very seriously, it’s potentially a life saving lesson!
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition
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