Door Etiquette for Dogsby Sandra King
Few things get a dog more excited than the prospect of an open door. His Ping-Pong dance every time the doorbell rings might make your eyes twitch, but understanding his take on the door could help adjust your patience meter -- you come home through it, adventures wait on the other side of it and getting over the threshold in time means you don't make a mess on the floor. Despite its significance, however, calming your pup at the door is as simple as practicing some basic relaxation and obedience.
Preparing to Face the Door
Your actions often shape how Rover views his journey through a doorway. Say it's time for his daily stroll. His anticipation builds as you lace up your favorite walking shoes, gather the poo bags and retrieve his leash from the drawer. You can send him right over the top at this point by inviting him on a walk in a high-pitched, excitement-inducing voice. Calm and in control is a mantra you'll have to master before teaching Rover door manners. He'll also need a good grasp of the sit and stay commands.
Leaving for a Walk
Your goal for getting through the door at walk time is that you lead and he follows. Having him sit and stay in a comfy spot will help keep him calm as you ready the walking gear. To create a peaceful exit, lead him to the door and ask him to sit as you put your hand on the knob. If he pops out of the sit, remove your hand from the knob and tell him to sit. Repeat in increments until he stays in position as you turn the knob, open the door, step across the threshold and invite him out. It won't take him long to figure out that the door stays open as long as he stays sitting.
When guests arrive, you add fuel to Rover's agitation if you fret about getting your friends safely inside before he launches 70 pounds of doggy love at their chest. When the doorbell rings, let him do his canine duty and bark a few times, then have him sit and stay about 6 feet from the door. Keep him sitting as your guests come in and greet you. If Rover remains sitting, release him and let your visitors lavish him with affection. A little squirming is OK, but if he leaves the sit before you're ready, have him sit and ask your friends to ignore him. He'll soon understand that he gets attention when he greets guests politely.
Laying the Foundation
There is little that helps more with teaching your pup appropriate behavior at the door than training him in basic obedience. He'll learn you're a trustworthy leader if you practice positive reinforcement with lots of praise and treats rather than harsh corrections. If you're using a leash during his obedience work, he'll understand you're about to get serious once you snap on the lead, which will help you control him if he's especially hard to handle when guests arrive.
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