Teach Your Dog “Wait”
Good door manners are very important for a dog’s safety. A dog that can show restraint and impulse control at a door is less liable to make a mad dash on a busy road or encounter other dangers when getting out the front door. It gives you control over that space and decreases the amount of arousal that can happen when somebody knocks on your door or enters your home. “Wait” essentially means don’t cross the line, or hold on. This is not a stay, and technically the dog may move backward or sideways, but he is not to move forward.
How to Teach:
- Begin with your dog on a leash so you have control over their movement and the situation. We’re not using any leash pressure, but if your dog goes to move forward out the door you can stop them for their safety.
- Bring your dog to the door you plan on working at. It doesn’t matter if your dog is sitting or standing, but it may be easier to get the behavior you’re looking for if you begin in a sit position.
- Place your body in between the dog and the door without completely blocking the door from your dog.
- Place your hand on the door and if your dog does not move, mark and reward.
- Continue this behavior of placing your hand on the door, marking and rewarding as your dog doesn't move forward.
- Once your dog is understanding how to stay there reliably, you can begin to turn the doorknob. Again as your dog stays steady, mark and reward the behavior.
- After your dog is reliably staying steady when you turn the knob, you can start to open it just a couple of inches. If your dog stays steady, mark and reward.
- If your dog moves forward, shut the door and put them back into their position.
- As soon as you see your dog move, shut the door. You don’t have to shut the door on your dog or harm them with the door but prevent them from moving through it.
- Keep practicing until your dog is becoming nice and steady and then start opening the door further. Mark and reward all appropriate behavior.
- Keep practicing, and as your dog’s behaviors become more reliable, you can begin opening the door further and further and even get to the point where you are taking a step through it and your dog is still remaining in place.
- When practicing this behavior at your front door, you can do this before you go out on the walks and also provide your dog a reward by releasing them to come out the door for their walk.
- When practicing this at the back door to your friend’s backyard, you can also use a release to go outside as a reinforcer to the waiting behavior at the door.