You come home from the grocery store laden with things needing refrigeration. When you open your door, your little dog is overjoyed to see you and wants to run outside. You let her relieve herself, but now you would like to be able to leave the gate and the door to your house open so you can bring in groceries easily. Unfortunately, that open door seems irresistible to your little dog, and you worry that she will also run out the open gate. Therefore you have to close her in a room or crate her so she doesn’t run out. Suddenly the joy of your return turns to anxiety as you close your little dog up while you unload groceries.
Perhaps you have friends or family arriving, and the door is held open. Your little dog is guaranteed to make a beeline for that open door, turning the fun of having people over into a very dangerous situation. Do you have to keep your little dog closed up every time you have people over? Why won’t she just stay inside?
Teaching your little dog to stay inside is important safety training that could save your dog’s life someday. Small dogs can easily slip out unnoticed, to disastrous consequences. Furthermore, asking your little dog to resist impulses teaches self-control, which will result in a calmer, happier companion overall.
Training your small dog to stay inside when the door is opened relies on two concepts. The first is to desensitize your dog to the excitement of the door opening and the access to the outdoors. The second is to teach your dog to continuously resist the impulse to go out the door as new temptations arise.
Both concepts must be taught separately and completely in order for your dog to grasp this behavior. In order for your dog to internalize the concept that she should stay inside until invited out, you will need to practice over a fairly long time period in a wide variety of situations. Most dogs grasp the basic concept pretty easily, however, as the concept of a boundary is instinctual to most dogs.
You will need plenty of delicious treats and very desirable toys. Chew toys and food distributing or stuffed toys that take some time are an awesome way to continuously reward a dog who is maintaining her inside stay. If your yard is not fenced, a temporary fence set up outside your door or a leash is essential to keep your dog safe during training. If using a leash, attach to a secure harness, as your small dog could injure herself trying to bolt out the door on a neck lead. All dogs are susceptible to such injury, but small dogs are even more prone to it.