Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Training Tip: Waiting at Doors

It's time for our Tuesday Training Tip! We hope you and you dog have had fun learning self control with the food bowl. Keep working on it!

Today's training tip focuses on waiting at doors. Opening a door can be a very exciting thing for a dog. When a dog wants to go outside to play, he'll often try to dash outside before you even get the door completely open. However, it can be dangerous for a dog to dash through a door. You don't always know what's on the other side, and if he's on leash, he could pull you right along with him. If that dog is a service dog pulling a wheelchair or helping someone balance, he could seriously injure his partner by dashing out or in the door.

All of our dogs are taught self control at doors. They must wait calmly by the door until the door is opened and they're given a cue such as "go on through," "let's go," or "okay." Only then are they allowed to go through the door.

How to Train It

Before you even start training this behavior, make sure it's safe for your dog to dash through the door. He may manage to dash through the door at some point in your training session, and you want to make sure that he'll be dashing into an area where he'll be safe. We recommend putting your dog on leash for this exercise so you'll be able to easily bring him back if he does dash through.
  1. Begin training by holding the leash and standing by a door. Slowly open the door. If your dog starts to move toward the door, close it. (Be careful not to close the door on your dog!) The goal is for your dog to learn that he controls when the door opens. If he stays still, it opens. If he moves, it closes.
  2. If your dog stays still with the door open, give him treats to reward him.
  3. Give him the "okay" to let him go through the door.
  4. Repeat these steps until your dog is reliably waiting at doors.
If you and your dog are ready for a challenge, you can teach him to go through the door, turn around and look at you.
  1. Begin by having your dog wait on a leash at the door while you open it.
  2. Tell your dog "go on through."
  3. Watch your dog closely as he goes through the door. As soon as he starts to turn his head, click and treat. Be patient and wait for the dog to turn his head, even if it seems like it's taking a long time.
  4. When your dog gets good at turning his head after he goes through the door, start waiting for him to look at you before clicking and treating.
As with any behavior, when you're training this behavior, you need to be consistent. If you sometimes let your dog dash through the door, he will always try because he knows that sometimes it will work. You need to be consistent and always make your dog wait.

There are a few exceptions to making your dog wait. For example, we never make puppies that are not housetrained wait at doors when they need to go outside to relieve themselves.

Happy training! Let us know in the comments how you and your dog are doing.

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