How to Teach Door Manners to a Labrador Old English Sheepdog Mix

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: June 23, 2017

By: Sam Kanouse

Thomas is a three-year-old Labrador Sheepdog mix who lives in Omaha. Their guardians called to set up a dog behavior training session with us to get Thomas to stop pushing through the door and teach him how to behave when guests arrive.

Thomas was an excited dog when he greeted me at the door; pushing through the door, rushing past me and circling around. I did not pet Thomas because this kind of excitement, while it may appear to be happy, is often associated with anxiety. Additionally, anything a dog is doing what you pet it is reinforcing he behavior.

I sat down to talk to the guardians about their dog behavior concerns; the most important was door manners. There were no rules in place so Thomas had the impression that he was the leader, this combined with petting a dog when excited can lead dogs to get over stimulated or worked up at the door while greeting guests.

Since Thomas’ main dog behavior problem was pushing through the door (aka Door dashing) I showed the guardians how to establish an invisible boundary between the living room and the foyer, then taught him that he had to stay behind this boundary. Increasing the distance between the dog and door created a positive dog training environment allowing guests to enter the home without being jumped on or knocked over.

You can learn how we taught Thomas to respect this new boundary and see some of the free dog training tips I shared with the guardians in the video below.

As you can see in the video, each step of opening the door is repeated until Thomas is comfortable staying behind the foyer boundary. The best way to train a dog is to break activities into small pieces then helping the dog practice them one at a time until they have that step down cold. Only then is it ready for the next step. In this case we broke it down into jiggling the door handle, moving the lock on the door, opening the door a tiny bit, then all the way and then greeting the guests.

When teaching dogs to respect boundaries you want to keep your body square to them and watch their behavior during this exercise. Certain behaviors such as having his ear pricked up or tilting his head sideways are all indicators that he is alert and is more likely to attempt to cross the invisible boundary.

The exercises that I introduced during this session, combined with plenty of exercise, rules and structure should allow Thomas to adopt a follower’s mindset. Once this transition is made, Thomas will start to respect his guardian’s personal space, the door area and guests who we welcome into the home.

We wrapped up this session with a Roadmap to Success video which you can see below.

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