Patience at doorways

By Tamsin Durston

Patience at doorways

Our how-to guide and top tips to teach your dog how to go calmly through a door

Why teach your dog to be patient going through doorways?

The outside world is full of sights, sounds and smells – you never know what’s going to be happening just outside the front door and it might just be dangerous! Dogs often become very excited about going for walks so it’s a good idea to teach them to wait patiently so you can leave the house calmly and safely, without being dragged outside. With lots of practice your dog should begin to automatically wait patiently at every doorway, and when getting out of the car too, making life much more manageable and relaxing for everyone. 

How to teach your dog to be patient at the door

  1. Preparation makes perfect!

It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place without any distraction, interruption or temptation - and when both you and your dog are happy and relaxed! You’ll both be able to concentrate and be successful! Practice when your street is at its quietest, and if your dog finds your front door too exciting then use a less exciting inside door so they can focus. You’ll need lots of rewards to begin with, so small tasty treats might be a good idea.

  1. Reward your dog for calm behaviour with a favourite treat

With your dog on lead and ready to go out, stand by the door and simply wait for your dog to show calm behaviour – keeping their feet on the ground, or even sitting, with the lead loose. Reward them for calm behaviour with a favourite treat. 

  1. Some dogs might be very excited and find this very difficult

If your dog starts to pull through the door as you open it, becomes excited and jumps up and down, this shows they’re finding this very difficult. They might become frustrated as they really want to get outside, so practice somewhere else in the house with a much less exciting door, such as the cupboard under the stairs, until they get the hang of it. 

  1. Start slowly, always rewarding calmness and patience

Place a hand on the door handle. If your dog remains calm reward them with a treat straight away so they know being calm and quiet is a good thing to do. Open the door just a small way to begin with. Reward your dog with a treat for waiting patiently, as long as they’re calm. The real reward will be getting outside. 

  1. Make it a little harder when your dog is ready

Now you can gradually open the door a little further and continue rewarding your dog for calmness and waiting patiently. If they pull ahead to get through, gently close the door and wait for them to be calm before starting again, making sure you always reward calm behaviour! 

  1. You don’t need to say anything

You don’t need to ask your dog to sit or wait at all, and if they’re excited this might be too hard for them to do in any case. Simply stay quiet and calm yourself and be sure to praise them when they’re getting it right. Over time and repetition, they’ll learn that they get to go outside if they’re calm and quiet, so they’ll automatically wait patiently for you to open the door without you having to say or do anything. 

  1. Dogs learn by repeating things

Repeat this until your dog is happily waiting patiently and calmly while the door opens fully. Then you can lead them through and reward them again for giving you their attention on the other side. 

  1. If your dog finds this hard and you need to get out safely

If your dog is really struggling scatter some treats inside the door for your dog to prevent them rushing through and while they’re enjoying sniffing and scoffing these clip on your lead, open the door slowly then call them out after you.

Enjoy your training sessions and have fun!

Want to progress and learn more? Got the training bug and fancy teaching your dog all kinds of useful behaviours?

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