I was in Green Acres last week replacing an Invisible Fence System with a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system for a new client and his Goldendoodle named Annie. His old dog perimeter fencing system had stopped working and when he learned that we were also professional dog behavioral trainers, he decided to upgrade to our system and our training methods. Annie took to the new fence perimeter very quickly and we saw that keeping her on my client’s property would not be a problem at all. My client then had a question about perimeters and manners. It appeared that Annie loved to run to the front door when any guests or family members arrived and would then proceed to jump all over them. He did not have a problem with that when she was a puppy because she was smart and he already had the invisible fence around the edge of the property. Now that Annie has become a big girl, weighing over seventy pounds, it is no longer cute and fun.
I first told my client that this was a common occurrence with people getting Goldendoodle puppies and allowing them to “misbehave” when they were young and much smaller. Most people just don’t take into account that their dog is going to rapidly grow and that the rules the owner may once have allowed have now become inappropriate. Since Annie was still only one year old, changing the behavior should not be a major issue.
The most important fact that I explained to my client was that he must immediately start enforcing the “don’t rush the door and jump on entrants”. This will initially confuse Annie, but with consistent and repetitive enforcement, she will understand the rule has changed and she must employ new actions when people come to the door.
In order to implement the new action, we must first understand how dogs think. They do not understand logic or complicated thought. They do not comprehend that they might be able to jump on some people or rush to the door when a specific friend is coming over. They also don’t understand that it is fine to rush and jump on you if you are wearing old or dirty clothing.
They also need to learn through consistency. This means that you can’t come through the door and then encourage them to run and jump on you because you “had a bad day and want a doggie-hug”. When you come through the door, they always need to stay back and they can’t jump when you continue to enter.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to set up a learning exercise with a single, specific rule. We like to use a boundary rule that states “Do not approach the door when someone knocks and it is being opened by another family member.” We now need to create a scenario where we can emulate this process and we can communicate appropriate and inappropriate actions to Annie. Here is what we do:
- Have Annie in another part of the room or the house with another family member. Annie and that family member can interact and do anything except approach the door.
- Get someone else to go around and be about fifty feet away from the front door. That person should be positioned so that Annie can’t see him through the window from her position inside the house.
- You should now stand at the front door facing inwards towards Annie’s possible approach. In your mind, decide where you don’t want Annie to be when you open the door. This is normally a radius around the front door of approximately six to eight feet. Have a squirt bottle with water that you can use to stop Annie if she starts to approach the door (more in a minute).
- (We are now ready to start!)
- Have the person outside approach the front door and knock or ring the bell.
- Have the family member with Annie completely disengage with her so that she can make the decision to run towards the front door.
- If Annie runs towards the front door and approaches your radius, stand tall, give her a low toned and firm “no” and squirt her with the water from the squirt bottle.
- This will break her adrenalized action for a moment. You might need to do this two or three times to drain the adrenaline of her hearing the door bell or knock. When she pauses to try and figure out what has just happened, she will see you stoically standing and facing her from the front door. You are displaying natural, canine body language of “I am the boss, stop what you are doing”.
- Now that she has stopped moving towards the front door, slowly open the front door while you are still facing Annie. If she starts to move, firmly give a low toned “no” and a water squirt again to enforce your dominance of the situation.
- When the person is completely in the house, close the door. Praise Annie for a good job with a “Good Puppy”. I always suggest doing this in a high tone.
Now, we are ready for the next phase of the exercise. We have successfully had a person enter the house; we now want to walk in and not have Annie jump.
- Slowly walk with the person into another room. Tell the other person not to be animated and encourage Annie to approach.
- If Annie starts to approach, watch her carefully for any sign of increased adrenaline. This could indicate she is becoming focused on you and your guest and will jump. If you see this, stop and face her. Let her know that she is doing something wrong by giving her a firm, low toned “no”.
- Once she stops, continue walking to your destination. Praise her with a high toned “Good Puppy”. Your exercise is now complete and your rules have been successfully enforced.
Focusing on you and minimizing the adrenaline are key factors in any situation. Dog training, dog safety, and your front door are no different. Feel free to ask us any dog fence, dog training, or dog safety questions by going to Dog Fence Training Help. We have more, great safety and training tips for your dog at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Green Acres South Florida. We are also professional dog trainers with over eleven years experience. Please find more information about our dog training methods at Home Dog Training Green Acres South Florida.