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Door Etiquette for Dogs

Let's say your dog won't sit quietly at the door and charges through each time you open it. You let him do this. Winter comes, your stoop is a sheet of ice, your dog pulls you through the door, and you fall down and hurt your back. Should you be angry at your dog? Nope! You trained your dog to charge through the door in the first place!

So what should you do? The obvious solution is to teach a “Wait at the door until I release you to go through,” or “proper door etiquette.” Follow these steps for the house and the car doors:

  1. Approach a door with the dog.

  2. Ask the dog to “Sit” or “Down.” (Be sure to train this before working in the door context.)

  3. Put your hand on the doorknob.

  4. If the dog stays in position, reinforce the dog.

  5. If he moves, ask him to “Sit” again and don't take your hand off of the doorknob.

  6. Repeat until the dog stays in position.

  7. Then turn the knob without opening the door.

  8. If the dog stays in position, reinforce the dog. If he moves, ask him to “Sit” again and don't take your hand off of the doorknob.

  9. Repeat until the dog stays in position.

  10. Now it's time to actually open the door a tiny bit. If he moves, ask him to “Sit,” or you can say “Sit” while you open the door. Reinforce the dog if he doesn't move.

Continue in this manner, opening the door more and more while continuing to reinforce the “Sit” and “Stay” behavior.

When you can successfully go through the door, you're halfway there! Now it's time to reinforce the dog for looking back to you once you're both through the doorway. This will come in handy when there are distractions on the other side of the door. Do it this way:

  1. Once through the door, say your dog's name.

  2. When he looks back, ask for a “Sit” and reinforce him for looking back.

  3. Repeat until the dog automatically looks back to you when going through a door without a verbal reminder from you.

More on: Pets


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training é 2005 by Pamela Dennison. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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