Helping a Dog Get Over a Fear of Going through a Door

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 19, 2018

For this Council Bluffs dog training session we helped 11 month old Mini Australian Shepherd Bindi get over her fear of going out the back door and offered tips to stop her from fighting with her room mate, 11 year-old Yorkie / Mini Schnauzer mix Jenkins.

Because the dogs had starting fighting one another, the guardians had them separated when I arrived for this in home dog training session. Bindi was free with Jasper behind a baby gate on the stairs.

Bindi did some jumping up on me so I showed the guardians a technique I have used to stop hundreds of dogs to stop jumping up on people who visit.

After chatting with the guardians about what the dog behavior problems were for a few moments, I decided to start out by addressing Bindi’s fear of the back door. She used to go through it without any problems, but after some back yard construction, she stopped and would move away if anyone attempted to open the door while she was in the room.

You can see how I helped Bindi get over her fear of the door using positive reinforcement and bit of a Conditioned Emotional Response (CER) in the free dog training video below.

If the guardians practice this technique a few times a day for a week or so, Bindi should stop being afraid of going through the door permanently.

I dont think the dog’s anxiety about going through the back door is too intense based on how quickly Bindi responded and the fact that immediately afterwords she was running laps in the back yard at full speed.

Next I grabbed Jenkins from behind the baby gate to see if I could supervise the dogs together. No dice. As soon as Jenkins was in the room he started barking, posturing and growling at his former buddy. While both dogs were fighting, it was clearly Jenkins who was the catalyst. This confused the guardians as he was getting the worst of it.

Since these fights only occur when the humans are around the dogs, I probed a bit on their day to day routine to see if there was something going on that had caused these former buddies to start this fighting.

Im pretty sure the dogs are fighting one another due to jealousy and attempts to claim the humans. There wasn’t much structure in place, the dogs were under exercised and were posturing for position.

I suggested some rules, ways to enforce them and also the benefits of rewarding desired actions and behaviors. The humans are going to need to flip the leader follower dynamic in order to stop the dogs from jockeying for position with one another.

As a dog behavior expert, I learned a long time ago that dogs get over things by literally moving forward so I suggested the guardians start walking the dogs together. I wish I had a picture of the guardian’s eyes right after I made that suggestion as she thought there was no way we could get them together for a walk this way.

I showed the guardian how to add the special twist of the leash to the Martingale collars for more control, then had her take one dog while I had the other to start. Its always a good idea to add distance between a dog and anything it is reactive to.

Although we started about 20 feet apart, we were quickly able to close the gap until the dogs were walking on my right and left side. After establishing this calm behavior, I handed the leashes to the guardian so she could experience the same.

It was great to see how well the dogs responded to this group walk. In fact, after the walk we hung out as a group on the front porch for 15 minutes without any growling or barking from either dog.

I suggested the guardian get one dog leashed up and take out outside to tether it to a railing, then go back inside and get the second dog before walks so that she can control the situation if she is home alone. Im guessing this will be challenging for a few days but that the dogs will quickly get in line.

I also shared some potty training tips as Jenkins was having accidents. If the guardians change the command word to a new one without the baggage of the current word, they should be able to stop him from going inside the house. They may also want to consider training him to ring a bell when he needs to go potty.

The more the humans enforce rules, pet with a purpose, use passive training to reward desired behaviors the quicker the dogs will start to see and respect them as authority figures. Once that takes place, and the dogs get comfortable and practiced being together calmly on walks, the dog on dog aggression should subside.

To help the guardians remember all the positive dog training tips I shared in this at home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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