Teaching Your Dog Good Door Manners
Some of the worst problem behaviors with dogs occur at the front door. Your dog might be bolting out the door when you open it, or jumping on people when they enter the house. Other dogs have a problem letting their owners know when they need to go outside because they haven’t mastered a good way to communicate using the door.
The best place to start in teaching your dog door manners is to make sure that he knows the Sit command. You can teach him to sit by using a piece of food to lure him into a sitting position. With your dog standing, hold a treat slightly over his head and slowly bring it backwards. As you move the treat back your dog will tend to follow the food with his head. This will bring his body beneath him and he will assume a sitting position. You can praise him then and give him the treat. Do this a few times and add the Sit command.
Next, teach your dog to sit while you open the door. Your dog should be wearing his collar and a leash. Before opening the door, tell your dog to Sit. When he sits praise him and give him his treats. When you start to open the door again, he may hop up ready to run out. Have your foot on his loose leash at this point. When he pops up the leash will pull him back down. Tell him to Sit. When he sits again, praise him and give him his treats. Each time you open the door and your dog pops up, have your foot on his leash so he will pull himself back to the sitting position. You then praise him and treat him for being a good boy and sitting.
You can teach your dog to sit at the door when other people come in, too. Get a friend to help you. When your friend knocks at the door or rings the bell, let your dog respond as usual when a visitor arrives. Put your dog’s leash on his collar and tell him to sit. Praise him and give him a treat. Place your foot on the leash, then let your friend in the house. If your dog starts to jump on him or her the leash should pull them back. Tell your dog to sit again and praise them for being in the sitting position; give them a treat. Let the visitor pet your dog ONLY if your dog is in the sitting position. Otherwise they should ignore your dog.
Repeat this exercise numerous times until your dog catches on that he needs to sit when a visitor enters the house. Graduate to doing these exercises without your dog wearing a leash, once you’re comfortable that your dog is not going to run out the door.
If your dog has trouble getting your attention or letting you know when he needs to go out you can teach him to make use of the door. Install a small set of chimes or a bell next to the door and teach your dog to ring them when he needs to go outside. When taking your dog outside to relieve himself stop at the door and gently take his paw to ring the chimes or bell, then take him outside. If you do this consistently for a few days your dog should begin connecting the chimes or bell sound with going outside.
You can improve your dog’s door manners a great deal simply by working with him on these situations. Your dog will be safer and you will make life better for both of you.