Who goes through the door first: you or your dog?
Truth be told, I don’t really care who goes first. It doesn’t make you the leader of the pack if you go first, and it doesn’t make your dog dominant if he goes first.
What?! Can’t believe a professional dog trainer is saying such things?! Yeah, hold onto your pants, that’s exactly what I’m saying. The old-style, uninformed trainers who say that kind of thing are just copying another old-style, uninformed trainer you may have run into on tv.
Here’s the truth: do what makes sense to you — go through the door first if it’s more convenient.
Personally, in most cases, I usually prefer that the dogs go first so I can get out the door unencumbered and on my own time.
Polite, well mannered dogs will go through the door and then wait for their person to catch up.
Here’s how to teach your dog to go through the door first, then turn around on his own to wait for you.
- Be ready with your clicker and tasty treats.
- Have your dog on a 6-foot leash (no Flexis!). (I have the clicker and the leash in the same hand so I have a free hand to deliver a treat.)
- Open the door and begin to exit, encouraging your dog to go first if necessary.
- Click the instant the dog’s rump has gone out the door.
- Treat when he turns around toward you.
- Repeat several times until the dog begins to expect the click (and resulting treat).
- Go through the door and click when the dog looks back (instead of clicking to cause the dog to look back).
- Systematically increase the distraction difficulty (but always begin without any distractions, of course) until your dog is great at turning around to look back at you no matter what.
I’ve taught this at our front door, but if your front door is too highly charged for your dog (he’s too excited to pay any attention to you after the door opens), use an interior door (say, a door to your bedroom, for example). Another tip if your dog is too excited to pay attention: use yummier treats!
I’m so glad you said this! I always felt like I was “doing it wrong” for not making Sadie wait, but you’re right, I prefer to be last! I would like to get her to wait at the top/bottom of steps, though, until the humans have cleared them. I need to work on that!
Laurie Luck says
Hi Anne! You can always toss a treat or a toy to the bottom (or top) of the steps to help her clear the area before you get onto the stairs. That might help her get to her position faster, perhaps. Smooches to that girl!
I love what you’ve done with Sadie using the clicker. I’ve never used a clicker for training. One question that bothers me: you give Sadie a lot of treats when you’re training her. What can I give my dog who needs to lose weight and she should only get a total of 1/2 c of dog food a day????
Laurie Luck says
Hi Sue, thanks for the great question! I don’t know who Sadie is, but you can definitely use your dog’s daily allotment of calories as treats. There’s no rule that says you have to feed your dog her meals in her bowl! Let your dog earn her daily calories during training!
Thanks for answering my question. I think Sadie was the dog you were using in your video. She is a lot larger than my little chihuahua. I’ve had to cut her down to giving her only 1/4 c. morning and 1/4 c. in the evening. That’s why I asked about the treats. Sometimes she sticks her nose up on her kibble.
Jo-Ann Carey says
I own a 16 month old male Australian Labradoodle. When he was 9 months old I did let him out before me but I changed that behavior. Now I like to go out the door first for a couple of reasons. My dog ran into me from behind, he cut me off in hurry to get by me, knocked me down and I broke my ankle, (plates, screws and dislocation). He now sits when I open the door and waits for my cue to tell him to pass. He also did cut me off from behind on my narrow stairway. I trained him to wait at the top or bottom until I finished the stairway. He walks behind me through the doorways of my house. When I get to a doorway and stop, he stops and sits. I like to control him from behind me, I already know what he’s doing when he’s in front of me.This way I know he is respecting my space. The second is, I never know whats going to be on the other side of the door. Once, as I was about to open the slider and a fox walked by, I’m glad I spotted it. I just don’t like my dog to cut me off, and I like to decide when he passes through and its after i check my surroundings that i give him the ok to pass. After breaking my ankle I could not take care of my dog, or myself for almost three months. I don’t want to experience that EVER again.
Laurie Luck says
Ouch! That sounds painful! Our guys are all fairly considerate and pretty much know where their bodies are — and don’t run them into us. Consistency is the most important thing — if what you’re doing is working, keep it up! 🙂