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Training Your Pup to Wait at the Door

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There are many things that could give pet owners a minor heart attack, but the most common one would have to be Fido bolting out whenever the front door is opened. The best case scenario is that your puppy would just frolic in the garden but you never know when he could wander off. He could possibly get lost or, worse, dash into oncoming traffic.

If you want to keep your dog waiting at door, you’ll have to teach him how. This is an important part of housebreaking and can serve as the foundation for his obedience training. Not only will this keep him safe but it will also allow him to be more polite. All domesticated canines can benefit from learning self-control.

Why They Bolt in the First Place

Some people believe that pups run out because the owners aren’t asserting their rank enough. According to them, this can be easily solved by you always going before your pet. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim.

It’s more that doors simply lead to the outside where dogs love to play. They’re probably excited to roll around the grass or chase some cats when they dash out. While an orderly manner is preferable when exiting your home, don’t think that Spot is rebelling against you when he’s just acting on his natural instincts.

Certainly, this doesn’t excuse his behavior especially if you’re planning to leave him at doggy daycare in the future. You want to rest assured that he hasn’t escaped the facility when you aren’t around, after all. But this does give you a better understanding of why he does it and what you need to do about it.

How to Stop Them from Running Out

Management is the first thing you need to do when it comes to teaching your dog waiting door manners. This will prevent him from practicing any unwanted behaviors. Likely, you already have the necessary tools for this but you’re not using them.

  • Barriers – Exercise pens and safety gates are great for blocking off the entryway from your pet so he can’t rush it when somebody opens the door. Of course, this only works when he isn’t capable of jumping over the barrier or it doesn’t make him more aggressive.
  • Leashes – Maybe a harness would be a better choice but either way it can stop him from escaping the house better than a barrier. Remember to keep him away from any vases and other breakable items though as he’ll still be able to wiggle around and knock into something.
  • Crates – Are you expecting any guests? Do many people come and go from your home-based office? Will you be coming back with your hands full? Put him inside the crate as you start your day and let him out during set times for exercise and play.
  • Locked rooms – When you don’t have a crate or are uncomfortable with putting Fido in a cage, a room that you can lock outside could work. Just make sure that there’s nothing in the room that he can break though, and the space should be well-ventilated to keep him from getting overheated.

If you’re going to be away from your home for several hours but don’t want to confine your dog during your absence, always be ready to block him from making a run for it.

How to Teach Them to Wait

Moving on from preventing pups from breaking free, it’s time to proceed with the actual training. For your dog waiting at door doesn’t come naturally and needs to be taught and practiced.

  • Sit and Stay – You want your dog to associate the ‘sit, stay’ command with the door. To begin, place your canine on a leash or harness then get him to sit down. Next, reach for the knob as if to open the door. If he gets up, go back to your original position until he sits again. Repeat until you’re able to open the door without him getting up.
  • Permission – Once you’ve successfully taught your pet to standby when the door opens, you’ll have to train him to recognize when he’s actually allowed to go out. Decide on a command that will tell him that he can exit the house. “Let’s go” or “go” can be options. You can stand right outside the doorway and invite him out with the command to train him.
  • Redirection – For pets that jump you or bark at guests walking in, you may teach him alternate behavior that they’ll do automatically when they hear the doorbell or a knock. An example is “go to your bed” or “go to your crate”. To practice this, knock on the door or ring the bell, say the cue, then reward him for following your command. Do this until he eventually puts the two together.
  • Get back – If Fido is more of the type that runs around your legs when you walk in, you could train him to get back on command. This means he will turn away from you and get out from under your feet. You can do this by tossing treats behind him while you say the cue. To up the ante, you can also teach him to automatically sit once he’s given you some space.

When It Comes to Indoor Doors

Teaching your dog waiting at door behavior is a form of boundary exercise. This means you’re creating an invisible border that he is not allowed to cross until you have given a touch or verbal release cue. Hence, you can use the same concept for working with indoor boundaries.

For instance, you just gave your furry friend a bath so you don’t want him rolling around the carpet in the living room. You can teach him to sit and stay by the bathroom door like he would with the front door.

Doorway manners are a good foundation for the rest of the training your dog will receive. For sure, it will take hard work and you will get stuck sometimes. You’ll need to stop and take a break in that case. Try again with the previous step and create intermediate levels if you have to. Always remember that there is no need to rush. Go at a pace that your pet is comfortable with so you’ll both be happy.

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