Skip to Content

Train your dog to walk calmly through doors

One thing I can’t stand from a dog is when he barges past me to get through a door. It shows that the dog has no respect and that the dog thinks he’s in charge.

Although I always walk through a door before my dog, I don’t think this is absolutely necessary with all dogs. If the dog walks through the door calmly in front of a person and then sits and waits while looking up at its owner to decide where to go next, that is acceptable. The problem is, most dogs barge through doors showing dominance or because they haven’t been given any rules. That puts the dog in control and can end up being a big problem.

A few people who I run dogs for said they are working on having their dogs sit and wait every time they go through a door to go outside. This is a very good idea, and it’s what I do with my own dog. But I got this post idea because when Ace travels to my friends’ or relative’s houses, he seems to forget all rules and tries to barge ahead through doors like it’s a competition.

I am at my mom and dad’s house right now, and they have two dogs, a golden and a springer. When Ace is with them, all three dogs try to barge through doors, literally knocking people and objects out of their way. And my dog is probably the worst of the three. Maybe he is even causing the problem.

When I’m finished writing this post, I am going to practice entering and exiting the front door with all three dogs. I will start outside and have all three sit on the driveway. Then I will open the door and go inside first. Once inside but still holding the door, I will release them. But if any dog tries to sprint through ahead of everyone else, then that dog (probably Ace) will be put back in a sit position. Only calm dogs get to come in.

Once we are all inside, we will do the same thing, only heading outside this time. I’ll see how many reps it takes to get three calm dogs. If they can’t do it, I will practice with one dog at a time first.

For those of you with one problem dog, follow these steps to get him to walk calmly through a door:

1. Make your dog sit when you put on his leash.

2. Walk to the door, but every time your dog runs ahead, stop and make him sit at your side. I realize this could take up to 15 minutes to walk 10 feet, but it’s worth it. Your dog will start to get it. He will learn that he does not get to go outside unless he listens to you.

3. Before you go through the door, make your dog sit again as you open it. Tell your dog to stay. Walk through the door and then invite your dog. If he runs ahead, make him sit again.

4. Continue the same procedure if you have outdoor steps, going even slower on the stairs because this is where many dogs like to run ahead.

For all of the above steps, if your dog breaks the sit position before you say “OK,” just say, “No! Sit.” And put him back in the sit position. For some dogs, this will take several repetitions. Make sure to train your dog to sit until you release him by saying “OK” or “all right.” There is no point in training a dog to sit and then pop right back up again. They have to be trained to sit until released. Start with the dog sitting for two seconds and build from there. A trained dog should be able to sit for ten minutes or more with no problem. For really hyper dogs, try standing on the leash a foot or two from the dog’s neck so he can’t go anywhere if he does stand.

It helps to use treats as a reward for calm behavior. Excited, verbal praise usually makes things worse because it gets the already hyper dog even more riled up! Remember, calm is usually best.

Good luck!

Dogs with fixations (part 3)
Breed profile: American Staffordshire terrier