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I was in Palm Beach last Friday finishing up a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® project for a new client and his German Short Haired Pointer named Helga.  Helga liked to squeeze under the back fence and get into the neighbor’s flower bed to dig.  Needless to say, my client’s neighbor was not a big fan of that activity.  As soon as we finished the installation and started the training, Helga no longer wanted to squeeze under the fence and get into the neighbor’s flower bed.  Our training continued with Helga to show her that there were many more other, more enjoyable things to do than dig under the fence.  My client was very happy with the results and his neighbor was happy too.  As I was packing up, my client wondered if he could ask me a “dog training” question about Helga’s behavior.  She always would push ahead of him whenever he went through doorways or opened the sliding glass door to go outside.  He found that activity annoying and was afraid that she would eventually knock him down as they were going through a door.

dog training going through doorway

Dogs running ahead of us as we try to get through doorways, entrances & exits, gates, etc. is a rather common thing.  We normally let them do it or simply push them aside as they try.  When we push them aside it normally encourages them to try harder and the situation intensifies.

Having a “tussle” within any enclosed environment is never a good idea and can often lead to injury.  Letting our dogs do this to us in these situations is not a good idea simply because of the safety factor.

There is a far more important reason why we should not allow our dogs push ahead of us when we are going through doorways.  It all gets back to the simple concept of “the leader always leads”.  As we are going through a doorway, we are moving from one environment to another.  Before we walked through the door, everyone (owner and dog) could agree that everything was fine in the current environment and everyone had been kept safe.

As we go through a door to another room, outside, etc.; that is an action that is taking us into another environment.  We need to make a clear ruling whether that environment is safe for all to enter.  When our dog pushes ahead of us through the door, she is clearly communicating to us that she does not think we have the credentials to make the decision regarding the new environment’s safety and do not have the ability to make it safe.

We cannot allow our dog to take charge in this manner.  It is not their job and sends a misleading signal regarding our social hierarchy.  Since we are the ones in charge, we need to go through the door first and make the “safety decision” for the rest of the group (including Helga, our dog).  We need to reinforce this rule with Helga.  I suggested the following lesson for my client and Helga:

  • Put Helga on a leash and walk her around the room for a moment. Drop the leash and slowly approach the door.
  • As you get within ten feet of the door, turn around and face Helga. If she is staying back (not running and trying to pass you towards the door), back up slowly towards the door while you continue to face her.
  • If she is active and trying to move towards the door around you, step on the leash as you are standing tall and verbalizing a corrective, firm tone of displeasure. Walk her around the room and repeat the above step.
  • Once you are at the door, check to make sure Helga is still away from the door. If she is not, step on the leash while standing tall and verbalizing a corrective, firm tone of displeasure.
  • Remember, you cannot step through the door until Helga is stable, looking at you, and not right at the door.
  • Now, step through the door to the other side. You don’t have to go far into the other room.  All you have to do is to step one foot on the other side of the door.
  • Wait for five seconds and then call Helga to join you.
  • As she comes through the door, you may have to step on the leash to keep her near you.
  • Have her come to your side and command her to sit. Once she has done this, praise her for a good job.
  • Walk around the other room with the leash for a moment or two to indicate that all is fine.
  • Your exercise is done.

Our dog is always looking for a recognizable social structure of leadership hierarchy.  A major part of that is “the leader always leads”.  She expects us to lead through the door. You can contact us with questions at Dog Fence Training Help Palm Beach South Florida or phone (954) 472-4724.  Learn more about Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and find great dog training tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Palm Beach South FloridaWe are really thrilled to have been your local dog authorities for over eleven years in Palm Beach and all of South Florida.  Our products truly work in keeping your dogs safe and on your property.  Did you know that Robin and I have trained nearly 4,000 dogs as professional dog trainers? Learn all about our Dog Behavior and Obedience Training by clicking Home Dog Training Palm Beach South Florida.