• May 24th, 2022
    Written by: Kimberly

    One training exercise that almost all dog trainers recommend is teaching your dog to wait at the door. Whatever is on the other side of the front door is usually exciting for your dog - a walk, a guest, or simply lots of new smells they do not regularly get to explore. This is why many dogs wait anxiously for the door to open and then go bounding outside.

    But this can also put your dog in danger. Traffic, getting lost, and interactions with dogs and people that you cannot control put everyone involved at risk. Training your dog to sit at doorways and wait for your release is one of the key ways to keep your dog safe.

    How to Train Your Dog to Wait at Doorways

    The front door of your home - or whichever door you most often use to access the unfenced outdoors - is the door most dog owners want to focus on. But training the same behavior at any threshold can be valuable. You never know when you will need your dog to wait in a certain area and multiple training locations reinforce the behavior.

    The result should be that your dog waits for your command, not just until the door is wide enough to squeeze through, to head outside.

    To train this behavior, use the following procedure:

    • Be Consistent - First, it is important to enforce a wait every time your dog goes through the door. From this moment on, your dog needs to wait for permission before she can go outside.
    • Start on Leash - Begin training on leash in case your dog tries to make an unexpected break. The leash makes it possible to hold her back.
    • Get into a Sit - It is often easiest to put your dog in a sit or a down at the door since that takes some of the pressure off your dog. If it works better, you can have your dog remain standing and give the wait command.
    • Touch the Door Handle - If your dog does not move, use your reward marker and give a treat. Provide the treat to the side rather than in front of your dog to discourage forward motion.
    • Open the Door - Open the door a few inches. Close the door if your dog starts to move, but treat if your dog stays.
    • Leave the Door Open - Once you get the door open all the way without your dog breaking the wait position, leave it open for a few moments before you give the release command. You can also start stepping out the door yourself to further build on the command.

    As you are initially teaching this command, you can start with shorter waits. In the beginning, just get the door open before giving your dog the release. Since you will want to use this command every time your dog goes outside, these shorter commands can help you get your dog outside sooner before you both get frustrated.