The World outside is a great and amazing place and when you’re just a dog, it can be so hard to contain your excitement when the humans opens the door to the great, wonderful outside. Good manners by the door is one of the most important things you can ever teach your dog. Both for safety reasons, but also because it makes trips outside so much more comfortable. Below I’ll go through a short protocol to teach your dog to wait by the door.
- Place an item of high value to your dog outside the door. For this exercise, I’m using a baby gate for illustrative purposes, but you can use any door. If your dog finds the outside itself truly exciting, you can skip using an item and just use the outside as a final reward
- Put your dog in a sit behind the door and wait for eye contact. It’s important to use high value treats for this, as the item or the outside simply is very very interesting to the dog. Put your hand on the door. reward for eye contact. You’ll want to reward, every time your dog looks at you.
- Slowly increase criteria by slowly opening the door, just a bit. Reward for eye contact. Should your dog loose focus, you simply close the door again.
- It’s important that you don’t open the door further than your dog can handle. This means that your dog needs to be able to maintain a sit, while you open the door. If your dog breaks the sit, or even dashes out the door, you have moved too fast. Should your dog do this, take a step back and only crack the door and reward for eye contact.
- Once your dog begins to understand that breaking eye contact causes the door to the outside to close, you can begin to increase criteria a bit more. This means keeping the door open and maintaining eye contact. It’s important that your dog understands that he is not to exit the door unless he is released to do so.
- When you have established the connection between the open door and eye contact, it’s time to raise criteria again. This is done by beginning to step out of the door. Start with one foot and reward for contact. Repeat a few times before adding the other foot and eventually can take a full step out of the door. I prefer to end these exercises with the high value item we started off with outside. If you didn’t use an item, getting to run out is just as fine as a reward. This helps keeping the dog motivated. If we reward with the things he wants the most, it’s more likely that the dog makes the connection that waiting politely means we’ll go out eventually.