Friday, July 22, 2011

Exercises for Manners at the Door

  1. Re-orienting through doorways:  Practice at interior doorways (bathroom to hallway, bedroom to hallway, etc) before doors that go outside.  Use the least exciting exterior doorway to start with, then move to the more exciting doors.  Go through the door with your dog, after you step through, pause. Wait for your dog to look up at you. Click the head turn. Feed a great treat. Turn and go back through. During the training of this behavior, go back and forth 10-20+ times so that your dog gets a lot of practice.  Then move to another doorway.
  2. Automatic sits at the door:  Walk to a door.  Wait for a sit or ask for a sit.  Click the sit. Feed a treat. Repeat a lot. Soon your dog will be sitting as soon as you arrive.  Practice many times, at different doors.
  3. Sit for door opening: This can be taught after part 2, or you can cue the Sit.  Have your dog sit at the door.  Feed a treat. Reach halfway to the knob. If your dog is still, click the stay, feed a treat. Repeat a few times. Reach all the way to the knob. Click while you touch if your dog is still. Feed a treat.  Repeat a few times. Reach for the knob, hold it. Click if your dog is still, feed a treat.  Reach, hold, and turn slightly. Click if your dog is still, feed a treat.  Continue until you can open the door and walk through it.   
  4. Walking Training: Use your walking training activities and practice these through the door. Outside, inside, prop the door open. We often do not think to spend time training in this area.  Yet we want our dogs to respond there.  A little training, and many repetitions of back and forth, will pay off quickly.
  5. Prevention:  Until your dog is trained to wait at the door, calmly go through, turn back to you, there will be times you have to go out.  If your dog barges out, you will be compromising your training and setting  yourself back. There are some options for how to exit without compromising your training. Practice these so that when you need to leave you have a plan.
        1. Treat Magnet:  (From Agility Right From the Start):  Have some treats in your hand, let your dog be licking-nibbling as you lead him through the door. If your dog is NOT licking, his nose is too far from the treats. 
        2. Treat Toss:  Drop a small handful of treats/food on the floor. While your dog is eating, open the door and walk through. After your dog finishes, he will come through.
        3. Carry Your Dog:  Not an option for all sizes of dogs or all owners.  But, when it's an option this is a great way to prevent your dog from practicing undesired behaviors. 
Pretend like this is a picture of a dog at a door.
I had one of those. But this is more cute.

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