As a part of basic doggie manners I teach all my clients doggie and human the importance of the Nothing In Life is Free (NILF) protocol. Basically the dog sits (or whatever other behaviour you like) in exchange for a reward, resource, valuable article whatever you want to call it. I look that this as being the dog saying "please" for his dinner, to go outside, for affection, to get his leash on, for a cookie, to play a game like retrieve or tug. It's just good manners and it instills not only polite, calm manners in your dog, it also a great, non-aversive way for the human in the partnership to be considered the one in charge.
One of the most valuable things to teach a dog within the NILF program is to "Wait" at an open door until released by a verbal cue.
This from a politeness point of view alone should be enough to want to teach it, but let me make it a little more enticing for you. How about safety, yours and the dog's?
I have four dogs and going for a walk it a highly valued resource for them (as it is for most dogs but with four, large canine pals, well that's 16 legs, plus mine and a combined weight at the door of over 300 lbs not including mine, wanting to get out into the great beyond). So it's dangerous for me in a very big way.
My front door leads right into our street (doesn't yours), which means that any dogs who plough past me through the door will go right out onto the road (albeit not a busy one, but it only takes one car right). So it's dangerous for the dogs.
To teach the "Wait", leash your dog (one at a time if you have more than one dog, kennel the other dogs) and go to the door. Saying nothing at all, wait for your dog to default to a sit, all you need to do is wait which will be difficult for you as being human we just love to talk, but don't, just be silent and wait.
When the dog sits (ignore any and all other behaviour) move your hand to the door knob, your dog will likely get up, so take your hand away from the door knob and again wait for the sit.
When you get the sit, hand goes to the door knob, remove hand everytime the dog breaks the sit. Once you are able to put your hand on the knob, trying opening the door a crack. Your dog will probably get up again from the sit, close the door and wait for the sit again.
Repeat over and over again, opening the door only a crack at first so you can easily close it if the dog breaks the sit and you won't catch Fido's nose or paw in the door.
The object is to get the door all the way open and then use your release cue to allow the dog out of the sit and through the door way.
Just a refresher - your release cue is the cue/phrase that you use after your dog provides you with a requested behaviour such as a sit. It lets the dog know that he is no longer on your time, there's nothing worse than a dog who does the sit and then walks away as he warrants. My guys have all been taught a formal stay but they also know that when asked for a sit or lay down, they stay in the requested position until I say "all done". Your cue could be "all done", "ok", "that'll do" or "banana cream pie", dogs don't speak english to say what you want, just make sure you say it and say it consistently.
It doesn't matter if you go through the door first, the dog does or you go through together, what matters is that the dog doesn't go through until you give the release cue.
Now both you and your dog's are safe, plus they are well mannered and calm.
Reprinted from Canine Minds and Manners Calgary Dog Training, a blog by Kirsten Rose, Certified Professional Dog Trainer
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