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There are so many reasons why it's a bad idea for a dog to jump at the door, especially a glass one. From the large dog who accidentally smashes the glass to a small dog leaving paw prints, keeping 'four on the floor' and not jumping up is the best idea.
Sorting this problem requires a little lateral thinking. First, you must figure out why the dog jumps at the door. For example, is it his way of asking to go out to the toilet or does the dog get super-excited when the doorbell rings? Identify the role played by jumping and you can teach an alternative behavior that is both safe and acceptable.
As with many training issues, prevent the dog doing the unwanted jumping while you're retraining. This can be as simple as putting the dog in another room when visitors are due or leaving the door to the yard open when you're not training.
Jumping up is an action the dog teaches himself. He learns that jumping up makes the door open or visitors appear. This means the behavior is ingrained, which makes it harder to break. This is why it's important to reduce the opportunity for the jumping, while you retrain.
Successful trainers don't just tell the dog what not to do, they put an alternative action in its place. That way the dog knows what is expected in order to make the door open or the visitor enter.
Train little and often, say twice a day for 10 - 15 minutes at a time. Always used reward-based methods and keep the sessions fun. Last but not least, end on a positive note with a command the dog is able to do.
All you need are basics, such as tasty treats. In addition, you'll need props such as a mat (for the dog to lie on instead of going to the door) or a bell (to ring instead of jumping at the door).
- Props, such as a mat or bell.
Be aware that punishing the dog for jumping at the door is ineffective and damages the bond between you. Instead, teach the dog the appropriate response so he knows what's expected from him.
The Stop Bad Habits Method
Understand the idea
OK, so your dog jumps at the door when the doorbell rings. You open the door to let in guests who then give him a big fuss. In his mind, jumping at the door gets a big reward. To re-educate the dog, you have to stop those accidental treats. Think around your particular problem and see what you can come up with.
Visitors phone ahead
Get visitors to phone when they are nearly at the house, so you can put the dog in a back room. This removes the opportunity for the dog to jump at the door and reinforce his bad habit.
Leave a leash on in the house
Keep a leash on the dog in the house. When the postman knocks, grab the leash to stop the dog charging for the door.
If the dog jumps at the door, don't respond in the way he expects. If it is safe to do so, walk away and withdraw your attention. This means jumping up is not rewarded and becomes less attractive as an occupation.
Don't shout at the dog for jumping at the door (your attention is rewarding to dogs). Have visitors ignore the dog as they enter. Both of these strategies avoid rewarding the unwanted behavior.
The Teach 'Bark' Instead Method
Understand the idea
Your dog has a habit of jumping at the door when he wants to go out. Try encouraging a different signal, which you reward.
Work with the dog's existing skills
Decide where the dog's strengths lie. For example, if his loves using his voice, then teaching him to bark as a signal works well. For the dog that loves scratching, consider a bell for him to strike with a paw.
Link 'bark' to the door opening
For the vocal dog, wait for him to ask to go out. Instead of immediately opening the door, encourage him to bark. Perhaps show him a favorite toy, one he'll bark to get hold of. Or talk in an excited voice, so he picks up the vibe and barks back.
Praise and reward
Immediately when the dog barks, praise him, give a treat, and open the door. Now he learns a bark is more rewarding than jumping at the door.
It takes time but the dog learns that a bark unlocks the door and jumping serves no purpose. It can be helpful to do this in conjunction with the Stop Bad Habits method.
The Teach 'Mat' Instead Method
Understand the idea
Let's move to the scenario where the dog jumps at the door to greet visitors. While retraining, plan ahead and stop access to the door when guests call. The plan is to teach an alternative action, such as lying on his mat, which you establish as the desired reaction.
Teach the dog to go to his mat
Next is to teach the dog to lie on his mat. It helps if the dog is already trained to 'stay'. You may need to teach this command in tandem if not.
Position the mat
Place the mat at a distance from the door. Place a treat on the mat and as the dog goes to the mat to eat it, say "mat". Now try standing a couple of feet away. Point to the mat and give the 'mat' command. You may need to toss a treat onto the mat to get the dog to respond.
Increase the mat's distance from the door
This teaches the dog that "mat" translates as "Sit on that spot to get a reward". This is easy for him to do, so he's likely to obey. Gradually increase the distance from the mat as you give the command.
Have the dog 'stay' on the mat
Once the dog is regularly going to the mat on cue, increase the amount of time he spends there with a 'stay' command. This will help your dog's self-control when visitors do arrive since he shouldn't move until released from the 'stay'.
Practice with visitors
Now enlist the help of a friend. With the dog regularly obeying 'mat', add in a knock on the door. (A knock only, the person doesn't actually enter.) By tossing a treat to the mat, you can override his desire to jump at the door--especially when there's no fuss from a visitor.
Come on in
Your final step is to have people enter while the dog stays on the mat. Have visitors completely ignore the dog but walk over to his mat. If he stays put, he gets a treat.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 11/03/2017, edited: 01/08/2021