I was just at a Dog Training Session yesterday in Cooper City when the problem of dogs running out the front door came up. This is a very common problem for many dog owners and the one thing that I have seen over the years is normally handled in the wrong way. This bad behavior is such an annoying and embarrassing experience because it doesn’t just impact us, it impacts the person at the front door or our job when we are late to work because we had to try and catch our misbehaving dog. The one thing that I am mostly worried about is the safety risk of our dog running into the street. So what is going on here?
As a trainer, I like to tell my clients to try and see the world through their dog’s eyes and understand their perspective. Our dogs are always watching our body language to understand “what we are saying” and what we are allowing them to do. Communication through body language is greatly impacted by posture and position. From our dog’s point of view, a great deal of information is disseminated based on if we are facing or have our back towards them.
When we are facing our dog, we are addressing him in an assertive or dominant manner. From our body language, we are telling him that we are the ones in charge. Based on this, he needs to take our lead on what to do and to stand back. When we are facing away from our dog and showing him our rear side, our body language communicates submission and even play. The combination of these submissive signals can easily imply that we want our dog to take charge and come to the door or even run out of the door because we want to play a natural “doggie game” like follow-the-leader.
Now that we understand our dog’s perspective, let’s see what we (humans) are communicating when we leave. We gather up all our stuff and give our dog a big pet and say “goodbye”. At this point, we are facing him and providing a dominant, in charge stance. So far everything is just fine. Now we walk to the door with our back to our dog. We are now in a submissive, playful communicative stance. This encourages him to run after us to engage and play. Oops!
The important thing that we must do is to continue our dominant, “I am in charge” stance through our entire leaving process. As we start to go towards the door, we continue to face our dog so that we show we are in charge. If he starts to move towards us, we can easily see that and correct him with a stern, low toned “No” while holding out our hand out in a “stop motion” like a policeman. Once he stops, we can continue to back towards the door. Do all of this is a calm, resolute manner. This shows your leadership and does not generate any unnecessary adrenaline with your dog.
Now you are ready to open the door. Continue to face your dog and open the door slowly. If he starts to move towards the door, correct him in the manner mentioned above. Slowly step through the doorway and close the door. Just before the door is completely closed, let your dog know he did the right thing by praising him with a high pitched, warm “Good Boy” as the door finally closes.
It is amazing how well dogs respond to this type of interaction. All you have done is to naturally communicate with your dog that you are leaving and you require no action on his part. Practice this for a few weeks and your dog will understand that you are in charge when leaving and it is not a game. For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in Cooper City and South Florida.