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How to Train Your Dog to Properly Enter and Exit the Home

When it comes to basic obedience training you probably understand the importance of teaching your dog to Sit and Stay on command. But there are some other things you should teach your dog from a young age for his own safety. One of these things involves teaching your dog to properly enter and exit the home.

Teaching Your Dog to Wait by the Door

Some dogs are so full of energy and excitement for life that they simply cannot contain themselves. While this may be cute in some dogs it can also be dangerous – your dog could be so excited about going outside that he bolts through the door and runs straight into a busy street. For your dog’s own safety, you need to teach him how to wait by the door for permission to exit. Not only does training your dog in this way help to keep him safe, but it also reinforces the idea that your dog needs to listen to you at all times. If you let your dog run out the door it could reinforce the undesirable behavior of ignoring your commands.

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to teach your dog to wait by the door – it just takes a little time. Below you will find a step-by-step guide for teaching your dog to wait for permission to leave the house:

  1. Make a pact with every member in your family to know where the dog is before they leave the house – no one should even touch the door knob until they are sure that the dog cannot get loose and bolt out the door.
  2. If you haven’t already established basic obedience commands with your dog, teach him the Sit and Stay commands. It may also help to work with your dog in distracting situations to reinforce his obedience.
  3. When you are ready to start working with your dog, start by asking him to Sit somewhere far away from the door.
  4. Tell your dog to Stay, holding your arm out in front of you as a stop sign, and then take a few steps toward the door and reach for the knob.
  5. If your dog starts moving toward you tell him No in a firm tone, then lead him back to the original position and tell him to Sit and Stay.

Practice this training sequence until you are able to walk all the way to the door and touch the knob without your dog breaking his stay – you can then work on slowly opening the door a little wider each time. Once your dog has mastered this sequence you can start working with him a little closer to the door by following these steps:

  1. Ask your dog to Sit and Stay a food or two away from the door then tell him to Wait as you reach for the doorknob.
  2. If your dog moves forward, tell him No in a firm tone and go back to the beginning – if he stays put when you reach the doorknob, praise and reward him.
  3. Repeat the sequence until you can touch the doorknob and then open the door without your dog breaking the Wait command.
  4. Once your dog has mastered the Wait command you can tell him Okay and let him go through the door.

The more you work with your dog, the more quickly he will learn to respond to your Wait command. Always reward your dog for performing the desired behavior but do not punish him if he disobeys – just correct him with a firm No and start the sequence over. Be sure to work on this sequence with your dog in various contexts – teach him to wait before going out different doors in the house as well as the front gate, if you have one. You can also work with your dog to teach him to Wait before entering the house or getting in the car.

Photo credit: Sparkydogster/Flickr

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.