Originally Published in GPSSC Der Schnurrbart Summer 2008 issue
Do you own your house? Are you sure? If your dog won’t let visitors in without you putting on a leash or putting them in their crate, then you don’t own your house! There are ways to make sure you gain control of ownership of your home back. Let’s start at the front door. Does your dog respect the space at the front door or do they go charging out the minute you open it? Ever trying to get out the door first
If you start to take you dog for a walk, who goes out the door first? In many cases it is the dog. All of these are signs that your dog does not respect you and think of you as the pack leader. To regain control of your pack and take back leadership here are a few things you can do. First, let’s start with the front door. You need to own the space around the front door. Figure out how much space you need to let someone into your house. For those tough cases, I recommend leaving a leash on the dog while you do these exercises, but only to grab in case they slip past you out the door. Next get another family member to help you from outside the door. Have them knock or ring the door bell. Every time the dog tries to go into the space you need to let a person in when someone is at the door you can do one of several things to keep them back. If you have a solid SIT STAY, then direct them back to where you want them and give them the commands. If you don’t have a good sit stay, but your dog will listen to verbal commands from you, use your voice and arms to direct them back. John using voice and hand signals to remind Ever to stay
My dogs will go back when I tell them BACK and point in the direction I want them to go. For dogs who won’t listen to their owners, use your legs and knees to push the dog back, by either walking into them, or kneeing them if their front feet are off the ground. John walking toward Ever to get him to move backward
Sometimes speaking to a barking dog is impossible, they just won’t hear you. In that case using hand signals and your body to block the dog works best. Once you have the dog staying behind your imaginary line when someone knocks or rings the doorbell 95% of the time, then try opening the door. Don’t look at the door, look at the dog. If the dog moves, then immediately correct them with whatever method works best for you. Usually what ever form of NO you usually use and possibly a finger or another body block works quite well. Once the dog is back in place, try again. This training can take several weeks to months before you have a reliable dog that will stay behind your invisible line until someone comes in the door. Remember to release the dog once they have done a good job. No, let’s look at taking a walk. Your dog should never charge out that door, even with a leash on. When you take a walk, make the dog stay behind the invisible line if possible and only release them once you are out the door. John reminding Ever to wait for the release word (OK) before coming out the door
If your leash won’t reach that far, make them stay inside the house even with the open door until you are ready to let them outside. Once you have mastered the door, you will be well on your way to owning your house again!