Teaching a Pair of Puppies Control to Correct Their Door Behavior

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 23, 2017

In this Omaha puppy training session we worked with a pair of 9 month-old Redbone Coonhounds named Stella (left) and Jessie on their door behavior as they get excited when people knock; barking and jumping up on them.

I almost titled this session, “the Redbone Coonhound Barking hour” as the dogs took turns demand barking or in protest for the first 15 – 20 minutes. I refrained from petting or otherwise engaging with them while they were excited. As a Dog Behaviorist, one of the most common mistakes I see people make is petting a dog when its misbehaving or in an unbalanced state of mind. Anything your dog is doing when you pet it is what you are rewarding or enhancing. This includes excitement, fear, aggression, anxiety, etc.

I showed their guardians how to add structure to petting and how important it is to reward desired actions and behaviors. The more the guardians recognize and pet the dogs for doing things they like, the more often the dogs will repeat this activities.

My guess is that the humans’s unintentionally rewarding the dogs for unwanted behaviors was the reason they were demand barking, not showing respect for personal space or listening to the guardians commands and corrections.

To address the dog’s poor door behavior, I shared a set of escalating consequences with the guardians, then had one of them head outside to pretend they are a guest. I like to recreate situations so I can show clients how to train a dog to behave how they want. Training a dog to behave at the door when people knock is something most dog guardians fail to do.

After demonstrating this door claiming exercise, we repeated the scenario but this time with the guardians answering the door. Backing the dog away from the door is a key first step. The added distance helps the dog stop being over excited. Excited dogs are often the ones who get into the most trouble. Only once the first dog is behind the boundary should you do the same with the next dog.

The guardians may need to split the dogs up and practice this exercise one dog at a time if it proves to difficult to claim the door as I demonstrated in the above video. Once the dogs can behave as desired on their own, then the guardians can this door answering ritual try again. Taking them out for some exercise before practicing would be a great idea for this pair to put them in a position to succeed behaving at the door when guests arrive.

The guardian wanted to teach them to walk in a heel with a loose leash, but we didn’t have enough time after addressing the other more pressing dog behavior problems. I recommended the guardians sign the puppies up for our 301 puppy training class which exclusively focuses on loose leash walking.

By the end of the session, the dogs had stopped demand barking, Jessie was more confident and the humans were leading the dogs with better body language, timing and technique. By increasing the exercise, adding rules and structure and rewarding desired actions instead of unwanted behaviors, it shouldn’t take long for this pair of puppies to learn to settle down and behave for their humans the first time they ask.

The door behavior problem isn’t hard to fix if the steps I outlined in the above video are practiced. If the guardians take turns playing he part of the guest and help the dogs practice being calm at the door at least once a day for the next week or two, they should adopt more desirable door manners.

Before I left, we shot a roadmap to success video filed with a number of positive dog training tips that should help the dogs stop getting excited at the door so they can develop better door manners and good door behavior.

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