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!