I was in Canton on Wednesday working with a new Home Dog Training client and his Brittany Spaniel named Mary.  Mary is a very active dog and one of the main problems we worked on was making sure she would give focus and respect to my client.  This is key in relationship building and very important to the teaching and guiding process.  Mary was great and responded very quickly to my client’s directions and commands.  We worked on several behavioral issues such as jumping, barking, and nipping.  We also addressed some of the standard obedience issues that included coming and walking.  One of the most important issues we resolved on Saturday was Mary’s issue of escaping out the front door when guests or delivery people ring the door.

One of the questions I am most asked by my dog training clients is how to get their dog to come back to them when they are running down the street.  My answer always is “Don’t let them run out the door in the first place”.  I know that answer may seem a little contrite, but the reason that most people are chasing after their dogs is because the dog has run past them at the front door.

Opening the front door is something that we all need to perform during the day.  We may need to open the front door to let in a friend or accept a pizza delivery.  We may need to open the front door to simply go out and get the mail.  We may also need to open the front door if we are coming home and just want to get inside.  Every time the door is open, it creates an opportunity for our dog to react with increased adrenaline because of the display of distractions from the other side of the door.  The increased adrenaline acts as an enabler to run up to the door and often out the door.

There are several, distinct scenarios in place in regards to opening the front door.  The scenario that we worked on last Saturday was where a guest or pizza delivery person rang the front door and my client needed to let them inside to greet them and/or pay for the pizza.

Here are the steps that we reviewed in order to properly address the situation and keep everyone safe and secure:

  • I first told my client that, whatever happened, he was to remain calm, collected, and low keyed in his actions. Going nuts would only heighten Mary’s adrenaline and encourage jumping and/or running out the front door.
  • I “set the scene” by having my client positioned at the front door. He set a boundary of where he did not want Mary to encroach while he was answering the front door or otherwise engaged in the matter.  He established a boundary of about eight feet away from the door.
  • I instructed my client that he was to keep Mary on the other side of the boundary by using his body language, vocal tones, and passive/physical methods he had just learned at the start of our lesson. If necessary, he could show and guide her behind the boundary line.
  • We began the exercise with my going outside for several minutes and then returning and ringing the front door bell.
  • Well, just as expected, Mary began to run to the front door.
  • My client corrected her with the communication tools he had just learned and Mary responded by staying behind his boundary.
  • My client waited for a moment to see that Mary was stationary on the other side of the boundary and then slowly moved back to open the door for me. He did not turn his back to Mary and faced her the entire time he was slowly opening the door.
  • (Facing Mary shows that my client was providing a continual display of leadership as well as allowing him to maintain control of the situation.) If Mary began to approach as he was opening the door, he could easily correct her again with his communication tools.
  • I then slowly stepped in and greeted my client. He then closed the door.
  • Mary was still behind the boundary set earlier by my client. But since the door was now closed, she had completed her task of obeying my client at the front door.
  • I instructed my client to praise Mary for doing a great job and to call her to us so we could “properly meet”.
  • Mary cane over, we greeted, and then we all calmly walked into the family room.

After several practices, Mary clearly understood to stay away from the front door when my client went to answer the bell.  I emphasized that this exercise needed to be practiced every day to permanently engrain the appropriate behavior with Mary.

Although my client understood what he had to do to keep Mary away from the front door, he was honest with me and said that he might forget.  With all the crazy things in all of our lives, sometimes these things happen.  I told my client that if all he did was to look back into the room every time before he opened the front door, he could see where Mary was and what she was doing.  This slight pause in the “open the front door” process is normally all we need to remember and enact what we need to do.  I told him that many of my clients leave a little “sticky note” on the door to remind them.

Having our dog “bug us” at the front door and running out when we open it can be embarrassing and a safety hazard.  A little bit or preparation and knowledge easily resolves the problem.

You can get in touch with us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  There is a lot of great dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Canton Georgia.  Get our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts by going to Dog Training Help Center Canton Georgia.