Your doorbell rings, and of course you go to answer it; the race has begun! You try to get there before your dog so you can stop him from assaulting your guests with their over excited greeting behavior or causing a mid-day chase around the neighborhood because they got out the door. A wrestling match has started as you try to grab their collar, and you feel like you are dancing with your dog as you circle round and round. You finally get their collar and open the door. Now begins the human-dog tug of war, and launching when your guests come in. All of this usually happens in the longest and most exhausting 3 minutes you ever had.
I hear this story everyday from owners who are at odds as to what to do about their dog and their greeting manners. Too many people have let their doorway “go to the dogs” so to speak! Most consults I go on, the dog greets me first. They are happily saying, “Welcome to my house, this is my pack!” Many owners have tried to “reclaim” their doorways by having their dogs sit at the door, but they still cannot control the bad manners of jumping or rushing out the door!
The problem is, as hard as you try, if your dog is right next to the doorway you will have a harder time controlling them! The doorway creates 5 steps of excitement for all dogs!
1. The doorbell or knocking
2. You touching the doorknob
3. You opening the door
4. The high pitched greeting most people use to welcome their guests
5. The new people coming in to your den!
People forget that dogs have a very short attention span! They react to each step of excitement! When practicing door control you must remember these 5 steps!
When the doorbell rings, quietly go to the door and check to see whom it is. Again, quietly! Your dog is doing their job by alerting you; don’t yell at them for it! If you yell at them you have joined them in barking at a stranger. If you quietly walk up you have acted like an alpha.
When you get there, calmly turn around and say “enough”, then place them in a sit/stay far enough back that if they start to move, you have time to shut the door! You cannot be quicker then your dog, so give yourself some room! Your dog should be sitting five to ten steps away from the door (in the beginning you may need the help of a family member and a leash).
When your dog is sitting, reach for the doorknob and repeat your stay command (remember each step is a new and exciting adventure for them). Then open the door and repeat stay again. Do not yell at them to stay. If they break, close the door and calmly place them back in a sit/stay. If you get frustrated or yell it will make your job ten times harder.
After each of the above five steps, repeat your stay command calmly. When your guests come in, you must initiate the greeting! Tell your dog to “go say hello” if they are calm! If your dog is too excited then keep them in a sit/stay until your guests walk past them. I always tell my guests to just walk past my pack without talking or looking at them. When you are aloof to a dog they generally do not get overly excited! After they are calm release them! If you are consistent and practice this with each arrival, you will notice your dog will auto sit/stay when the doorbell rings!
This is what door control should look like!
Good luck, and please contact us if you need help!
Tara, Brandie, Amanda and the “pack!”