Dogs running to the door when we are greeting guests, running out the door when we open it or jumping on guests are some of the most embarrassing and annoying “bad things” that our canine family members do. Visitors that have been jumped on can become scared or mad at you. Chasing your dog down the street and trying to get him back does not make for a fun visit with friends. In any case, it is an event no one wants to happen. Many people just don’t know what to do about this and unwillingly, accept it as part of having a dog.
It is important that we try to maintain the safety of ourselves, our guests, and our dogs. We need to establish a clear, simple, and consistent rule that your dog must always obey when the door is opened. Is the rule that you don’t want your dog to jump on visitors, or is the rule that you don’t want him to run out the front door? If you could get your dog to stay away from the door, it would resolve both of your wants. So teaching him one simple rule of not crossing a door boundary any time the front door is open, would solve both of your issues, while keeping it simple for your dog.
To educate your dog your new rule of a door boundary, you will need to practice this exercise so both you and he learn what to do in calm manner. Enlist the help of other family members so there is consistency within the household.
- Have a family member put your dog on a leash and take him to a far side of the room or an adjacent room where he can hear the doorbell and/or see the front door. Have the family member play with him and keep him focused away from the front door.
- Stand at the door, facing the room and your dog, with your back to the front door. Have another family member go outside and ring the doorbell.
- The first family member now releases the leash and allows your dog to independently make the decision of doing nothing or rushing the front door.
If your dog makes the “wrong decision” and rushes the front door, correct him with a firm, low toned “NO”. You can also enforce that verbal sound with a hand clap. Do this as your dog approaches the boundary line. Never yell NO or scare your dog during the exercise. This is only meant to break his focus and get him to pay attention to you, instead of the front door.
- You can now backup to the door directly behind you while keeping eye contact with your dog. This simply reaffirms your persistence in maintaining the rule of “don’t cross the boundary”.
- Slowly open the door while still facing your dog. If he starts to move towards the door and crosses the boundary, close the door and start the exercise again. At no time should you become overly adrenalized or animated. This will only get your dog excited and confused as to why he needs to remain calm if you are not.
- Once the door is open, and you have let in your “visitor”, close the door; and the rule of “stay on the other side of the boundary when I open the door” is successfully completed.
- Now praise your dog to let him know he is a good boy.
You will need to repeat this exercise every day, even several times a day until both you and your dog know what is expected. Eventually your dog will learn that visitors do not come in the house unless he is at his door boundary. Managing the front door can be simple with a little practice and adherence to some simple safety rules.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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