At Doghouse Daycare and Grooming, we love seeing excited dogs bursting through our doors. Tails wag as a snout carefully nudges our door open, and humans are dragged in by their four legged owners. We see big smiles all around. As lovely as it is to see this, there is an element of this behaviour that can be concerning.
When a dog dashes through an open door it can be unsafe for both the dog and owners. Whether the dog pushes a door open themselves, using their paw or snout to nudge the door open, their excitement and drive to see what’s on the other side can cause injury to their owners who are standing by. Not to mention the dangers to the dog, if the door he is pushing through faces a busy road.
Make no mistake- this behaviour is learned. Your dog may have learned early on that ‘outside’ equates to a walk, the park or other wonderful activities. So it is no wonder that your dog rushes for the door whenever possible.
So what can you do to change this behaviour?
Cristine Dahl has written an excellent book called Good Dog 101, and she outlines some simple steps to end your dog’s door dashes.
To successfully do this, you must:
- Use a “wait” cue which is less formal than a “stay” command.
- End the cycle of reinforcement by making sure your dog does not rush through a door without permission.
Start your training by following these simple steps:
- Use a leash for your dog, and slowly approach the door that you want to enter/open. It is critical that the leash is loose, so your dog does not use you/your weight to hold him back. Your dog needs to learn to control his own body when that door is opened.
- Say “wait” once and slowly open the door a few centimetres. If your dog begins to head through the door, say “oops” and close the door carefully.
- Don’t repeat the “wait” cue, but instead start the process of opening the door again. Repeat this until your dog remains still when the door is opened. This is the critical retraining process.
- The first time your dog waits at the open door, open the door fully and say “Okay”. Let your dog pass.
- Repeat this process everyday, and each time increase how much you open the door, from a few centimetres, to a fully open door.
With consistent training, it should not take long for your dog to wait at an open door. How easy is that!
For more tips on how to change your dog’s potentially dangerous behaviour, speak to our knowledgeable and experienced staff.