How to train your dog to be patient in doorways

A guide to teaching your dog to walk through doors safely and calmly.

Dog on lead waiting outside door

To a dog, the outside world is full of new sights, sounds and smells. They can find it very exciting and may want to get out of the front door as soon as they know they’re going for a walk. 

It’s a good idea to teach your pooch to wait patiently so you can leave the house calmly – this is much safer for both of you than rushing outside.

With lots of practice your dog should begin to automatically wait at every doorway, and when getting out of the car too, making life much more relaxing for everyone. For a head start, our video below will help you train your dog to be a delight around doors.

Get prepared

It’s important to start training in a quiet and calm place without any distractions. Both you and your dog should be happy and relaxed. This way, you’re more likely to be able to concentrate and to be successful.

Practice when your street is at its quietest. If your dog finds your front door too exciting then use a less stimulating inside door so they can focus. You’ll need lots of rewards to begin with, so small tasty treats might be a good idea.

Go and stand by the door

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

dog on lead, sat down, waiting by door

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

If your dog starts to pull through the door as you open it, or jumps up and down, they’re finding staying calm very difficult. They might become frustrated as they really want to get outside.

If this happens, practise 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.

Start slowly, always rewarding your dog for being calm and patient.

Place a hand on the door handle. If your dog remains calm, reward them with a treat straight away so they know this is a good way to behave. Open the door just a small way to begin with. Give them a treat for waiting patiently, as long as they’re calm. The real reward will be getting outside. Make it a little harder when your dog is ready.

Start to open the door

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. Continue to reward them for good behaviour.

You don’t need to ask your dog to sit or wait, 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.

Repeat until your dog is comfortable

Practise 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.

Dog on lead going through door

What to do if your dog is finding things hard

If your dog is really struggling, scatter some treats inside the door for your dog to prevent them rushing through. While they’re enjoying sniffing and scoffing these, clip on your lead, open the door slowly then call them out after you – scattering just a few more treats if you need to.

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