A dog who bolts out the front door whenever you open it to receive guests can create a frightening situation. Will he knock over or scare the guest? Will he stop and come back at the edge of the yard or dash out into the street? Many dog owners have resorted to locking a barking dog in the back room because they are concerned about these embarrassing situations at the front door. A better solution is to teach the dog precisely how you expect him to behave as you open the door.
Put the dog on a leash and have him sit at the door jam. Say “wait” and put your palm in front of his nose. Open the door a few inches and slam it. Praise the dog when he backs up. Repeat the “sit” and “wait” commands and the door slamming several times. Next have someone go outside and knock for entrance into your home. With the dog on the leash, give the “sit” and “wait” commands to your dog and don’t open the door until the dog is behaving calmly. Practice these routines for 10 minutes a day for two weeks, and your dog will be a model door greeter. The same technique can be used to keep an excited dog from jumping out of the car as soon as the door is opened. If the dog jumps out of the car before he is released, put him back in the car until he will wait while the door is opened for you to safely take his leash and call him to your side.
Now that your dog knows to sit and wait at the front door, use this behavior at all your doors and the dog will no longer bolt through an open doorway, tripping you on the way out. When you are ready to go out the door, you pass through the opening ﬁrst while your dog waits on the other side of the door until you give the “go through” command and sweep your arm in the direction you want the dog to go. The dog should then be asked to sit and wait again while you close and lock the door. Now it’s off for a walk for both of you.
Written by Jean Cary, Service Dog Tutor. To learn how to polish up your dog’s behavior or to teach him useful tricks contact her at (650)-593-9622.