I was in Oakwood last Wednesday working with a new Home Dog Training client and his Rat Terrier, Rumor. Rat Terriers can sometimes be very hyper dogs, but Rumor was a great, little student and responded wonderfully to the training and to my client’s commands. We went through my client’s bucket list of issues with his Rat Terrier. We quickly saw a new dog and the start of a great and lasting bond. As I was finishing up, my client remembered one more thing that Rumor did that was always bothersome to him and the rest of his family. He was first hesitant to mention it because he believed that what he already learned that day could resolve the issue. In my belief that “there is no inappropriate question”, I pushed him to ask the question. He said that it was always crazy when he or his wife came home after work. Rumor would be at the door and would not leave either of them alone until they dropped everything in their hands and immediately played with him.
Besides running to the door every time someone knocks or a guest rings the door bell, coming home to a crazy dog is the second most common “I wish my dog didn’t do that” problem. The issue is that most dog owners have no idea how to correct the problem. The yelling and pushing all seem just to get the dog more engaged in the inappropriate behavior.
The excellent news I always tell our clients is that adjusting their dog’s behavior to be calm and respectful when they come home after a long day at work is rather simple. The problem rests with a misinterpretation of leadership and focus. As our dog’s owner, leader, caregiver, provider, and best friend; it is our responsibility to always require their focus. They should always be looking towards us for all their needs; both physical and emotional.
When we come home to a crazy dog telling us he wants to play right now and that we should drop everything to do what they want, we aren’t the one in charge. Our mistake is to push them away or to drop everything and do what they want. In both scenarios, we are instantly responding to their wishes. We didn’t expect to drop our brief case the moment we walked in the door. We didn’t expect to push them away when we came home. Their actions caused us to follow that path. We focused on them. Bingo, they are the leader. Every day we come home and unknowingly reinforce that they are the leader and that they can do whatever they are doing. Why? They are the leader!
So what do we do to “stop the madness”? We must redirect the focus back to ourselves. Remember that from a canine perspective, the leader gets the focus. In order to accomplish this with the “coming home from work and opening the front door” scenario, I provide the following exercise:
- I tell my client to come to whatever door he uses to enter the house at night.
- If we had practiced using a water bottle or shaky can during the prior training session, he should have that with him.
- Before he opens the door, he should make his “I am the boss sound”. This could be the “eh-eh”, “shhhhttt”, “grrrr”, or whatever unique sound he had determined that got his dog’s attention.
- As he makes the sound; he should slowly open the door just enough to see if his dog is right at the door opening. If the dog is right there, he should repeat the sound and use his “ramp up” tool to have the dog move back.
- Once the dog is away from the door, he should open the door enough to step through. He should close the door.
- He should now ignore whatever the dog is doing. He should then initiate and complete any action. This may be putting the keys or his cell phone on the table, getting a drink from the refrigerator, taking off his coat, etc.
- Once he completes this, he can now face his dog.
- If the dog is misbehaving and breaking any of his “house rules”, he should correct him until the dog is calm and focused on him.
- He can now stoop down slightly and call his dog to him. Once he comes, he should stand up and praise his action with a “good boy”.
- If my client is ready to play, I strongly suggest that they go outside and engage in non-aggressive physical activities. Activities like “fetch” are great. I don’t suggest tug-of-war or “chase me” because that could create an inappropriate dominant/submissive relationship between owner and dog.
The entire point of this exercise is to have my client take control of the situation the moment he enters the house. He does what he wants and does not greet Rumor until it is on his terms. This encourages Rumor to give him focus and watch his body language for a sign of invitation. This clearly creates a sense of leadership within my client and respectful focus with Rumor. I tell my client do repeat this every time he comes home because doing this consistently will allow Rumor to quickly learn the lesson.
Not worrying about a crazy dog at the door when you come home from work is a great thing.
You can call us at (770) 718-7704 when you are in need of any dog training help. We already have a lot of great dog obedience information at Best Dog Trainers Oakwood Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Oakwood Georgia.