This article will teach you how to train your dog to wait politely or before going outside (the wait command). This kind of impulse control exercise for your dog can be really helpful for their behavior in general. Using a “wait” to have your dog wait for you to go through a door is something you should be doing for safety!
The early months of the pup’s life are very important because this is when much of its character development and growth occurs, and also when all sorts of bad habits can form if allowed.
Care at this stage will be well rewarded – it is far easier to train an unspoiled youngster than it is to re-educate a spoilt one.
The Wait Command
Most dogs rush to get outside, which makes for mayhem when you exit for walks, open car doors or let them out into the yard.
The terminal behavior (final goal) for the following set of exercises is polite waiting when any door is opened. Your dog will be permitted to go through only when you invite him to do so.
Tip N° 1
- At your normal walk time, put your dog on leash and station yourself at the closed front door.
- Keep the leash loose so your dog can make his errors.
- Put your hand on the latch and open the door a couple of inches.
- As soon as your dog tries to get out the door, close it abruptly (be careful not to jam paws or nose).
- Wait until your dog simmers down and repeat.
- Open the door and let him out (“Okay, let’s go—so good”) when he pauses for two seconds on the two-inch opening.
- Let him sniff for a few seconds, then go back in for the next repetition.
Being allowed through the door is the reward—grant it when your dog waits politely. Do Wait II right away when he’s five for five— don’t take the actual walk until you complete Wait II.
Tip N° 2
- Station yourself at the closed front door as previously mentioned. Keep the leash loose.
- This time, open the door one foot, which will likely tempt your dog to try bolting out again.
- As soon as he flinches toward the door, close it. If he manages to get out, collect his back in and try again.
- Don’t let him through the door until he waits two seconds with the door open about one foot. When he’s five for five, go on the walk.
The wait command: Tip N° 3
- At the next walk time, warm up your dog with one repetition of Wait II. Remember your loose leash.
- Now open the door all the way, being ready to close it if he lunges.
- Try to stop him charge by closing the door (better timing of consequence this way) or moving across the gap with your body, but if he’s too fast for you, escort his back in on a leash.
- When your dog waits two seconds with the door fully open, praise him and go through. When he’s five for five, go on the walk. Build one second at a time up to five seconds.
Should I Always Go through the Door First?
When I first started training, I was solemnly told that dogs went through doorways ahead of people in an attempt to dominate us.
This model of dogs obsessing about status has long been debunked (though status is something that concerns humans a great deal, and we project this concern onto dogs).
Dogs move faster than people, and they are very excited about going places, so they rush outdoors. It is not at all inherently obvious to them that there is anything wrong with this, any more than it would occur to you that there was anything wrong with your natural walking speed, or that it is an attempt to dominate anybody.
Tip N° 4
Station yourself at the closed door. Say “Wait” before you put your hand on the latch. Do the exercise as usual. And When he’s five for five, go on the walk.
- Repeat the same process using the door to the yard, if you have one.
- You’ll have to be quick so your dog doesn’t beat you and end up rewarded for rushing.
- If he keeps beating you, split to an on-leash set.
How to Train pup to wait in the Car
- Take your dog for a car ride to a fun place, like the park—keep his seat belt or leash on during the trip.
- When you arrive at the destination, leave him in the car, and station yourself outside his exit door.
- Open the door just enough to get your hand on the leash—then open wider.
- If your dog rushes, block him with your body (don’t risk a car-door close) or escort his back into the car on a leash. Let him out when he waits two seconds. Give him a few seconds of sniff time, and then repeat. When he’s five for five, give him the visit, a walk, or his usual off-leash time at the park.
Even if you train no further than the wait command, your dog will have a repertoire that will cover you for a variety of day-to-day applications. Sitting and lying down can replace jumping on people or begging at the table.
Asking your dog to sit and watch can get you out of innumerable jams while out on walks. He won’t strain at or bark at people or dogs on the street if he’s sitting and watching.
The wait command has achieved
Finally, if your dog comes when called, he can be granted off-leash access, which in turn physically and mentally tires him, the cornerstone to the prevention of behavior problems.
Both you and your dog will “learn to learn” from what are usually the easiest behaviors to train. Your timing, mechanics, and other skills will be honed for you to tackle the rest of the behaviors in this program, or any behaviors you opt to train, for that matter.
In your dog’s case, he’ll be past the raw, greenhorn stage in time for the more complex behaviors.