Most dogs love to run outside and explore the great outdoors. Most dogs quickly discover that when the front door is open it is “game on” and they can quickly dash through and have a blast saying “Hi” to all their two legged and four legged friends. I bet dogs think it’s even more fun when their guardian is chasing behind them yelling and waving their arms! The fact is that once a dog has dashed through an open door, they will most likely do it again and their risk for injury goes up substantially. The good news is that with a lot of management and some careful training, you can go a long way to keeping your canine best friend safe. Provide Plenty of Exercise and Mental Stimulation Many times a tired dog is much less interested in what is going on at the front door than one full of energy. Very active dogs need more structured activity and exercise. If your dog has already had the opportunity to catch up on all the new smells and see who has peed on what tree, they will be more than content to work on a stuffed KONG as you bring the groceries in from the car. So please make sure you are providing plenty of exercise and read this article for ideas on mental stimulation. Management is Key During the training stage, management often is the use of crates, gates, and tethers. These are needed until the desirable behavior is achieved. If you are coming home with groceries and you know a family member is home, call ahead and ask them to leash the dog. Or, consider crating your dog before leaving for a big grocery run. If you are having a big party where guests will be coming and going, crate your dog. Keep a leash by the front door for when the doorbell unexpectedly rings. Quickly snap the leash on your dog and then greet your guest. Train the Wait Command Start by teaching at any door. You can use the bathroom door, back door, bedroom doors, etc. As you see that your dog has learned the behavior, move to the front door and side gates of the yard. STAGE1: Start by walking toward the door and say “wait”. It is important not to command your dog to stay or to heel at the door. Right as you get to the door, do a body block, placing yourself outside the doorway, keeping the dog inside. Say “yes!” and give your dog a treat. Repeat this at least five times. Now, start trying to take a step back, slowly. If your dog remains on the other side of the door jam, give a treat and praise. Continue until you are at the end of your six -foot leash. If your dog puts one toenail on the door jam, place your dog back across the threshold. STAGE 2: Go back to the beginning of stage one. Do the body block, but now start to gently tug on the leash while you praise and give a treat. Steadily increase the pressure of your tug until you are pulling fairly hard. DO NOT JERK THE LEASH! Now continue the same process as in stage one until you can tug fairly hard at the end of the six-foot leash. STAGE 3: Now, start eliminating the body block. Try to keep your back to your dog while you keep at least one eye on her. Also, start adding distractions. STAGE 4: Your goal is to be able to run out the door, with your dog stopping you! Once you are able to achieve this, start getting more creative about setting your dog up. This means you can put your dog on a long line that has been pre-measured and is tied out to a sturdy object. Leave the room and go to an area where you can see if your dog attempts to go out the door. Again, you can get creative. Have a helper put your dog on the leash, while you are already hiding in a secure location on the other side of the door. If your dog attempts to go through the door, place her back over the threshold. By teaching your dog “Wait”, your dog will begin to understand that they cannot go in or out of any door without first hearing their release word. Dogs do not assume that just because you worked on the front door, that they must respect the side gates, back door, etc. You must work on every door that you want your dog to stop at. When Should You Attempt Off Leash? Once you see that your dog is waiting at the door consistently, and you NEVER have to stop your dog from going outside without the release word (for at least one month) you are then ready to start attempting the behavior off leash. Keep in mind that some doors present more of a danger than others. This might be your front door or the car door where there is immediate traffic that your dog could come into contact with. This may mean that you may have to manage those exits safely over your dog’s lifetime. It certainly is better to be safe than sorry when your dog’s safety is on the line, so proceed with caution. Still Need Help? You may benefit from hands-on coaching from a qualified trainer as you work through the training program. Please feel free to contact It’s A Dog’s World K-9 Academy, Inc.
Teach Your to Wait At Front Door