Part 2: Proper Doggy Door Etiquette

February 21, 2014

More often than not, many dog owners struggle when it comes to training proper door etiquette. For most dogs, the door is an area of over excitement and stimulation; you come through the door after leaving your dog, house guests come in through the door that give your dog love, food gets delivered to the door, going through the door means walks or car rides, and open door means freedom. Ensuring your dog has proper door etiquette is essential for both maintaining control of the situation and for the safety of you and your dog. Door etiquette also prevents your dog from developing incorrect greeting habits, such as jumping up on family members and barking at guests.


Teaching your dog to sit, stay and relax when in the vicinity of the door is key to mastering proper door etiquette. Following these steps will teach your dog to wait at the door until I release you. This should cut down on door darting, jumping, barking, etc. It is suggested that you have an accessible leash at the door for any time someone comes to the door. Please do this exercise on leash and do this exercise for all doorways in the home, exciting a car, going into stores/vets etc.



  1. Approach a door with the dog.

  2. Ask the dog to “Sit” or “Down.” (Make sure your dog knows these commands beforehand.)

  3. Put your hand on the doorknob.

  4. If the dog stays in position, reward the dog.

  5. If he moves, ask him to “Sit” again and don't take your hand off of the doorknob.

  6. Repeat until the dog stays in position.

  7. Then turn the knob without opening the door.

  8. If the dog stays in position, reward the dog. If he moves, ask him to “Sit” again and don't take your hand off of the doorknob.

  9. Repeat until the dog stays in position.

  10. Open the door a tiny bit. If he moves, ask him to “Sit,” or you can say “Sit” while you open the door. Reward the dog if he doesn't move.

  11. Start opening the door more and more while continuing to reinforce the “Sit” and “Stay” behavior.

  12. Gradually work towards being able to walk through the door with your dog in a sit stay. When you are able to make it through the door without your dog moving, then you have completed the first half of this exercise.

  13. Next you want to make sure your dog is focusing on you before inviting your dog through the threshold. Some dogs may already have good focus, but please work on this anyway.

  14. Say your dog’s name and “watch me”, as soon as your dog looks at you reward him. Please remember that all this should be done with your dog still in a sit or down stay. (Note: if your dog is struggling with the “watch me” focus command, work on this exercise indoors without working on the door exercise.)

  15. Your goal for watch me is to have your dog automatically look at you for guidance. Before inviting your dog out the door your dog must sit, stay and focus on you – not a glace and then watch what is going on the other side of the door.

  16. Once the above is successful then you can invite your dog through the door. If your dog can calmly come through then proceed on. If your dog gets too excited through the door I want you to ask your dog to sit once crossing the door threshold.

  17. Continuously work on this exercise until you have mastered it.



These same steps can be used when training boundaries. Boundaries will help your dog when people come in the home or if there is an area where you don’t want your dog to be. Remember at any boundary you place in your home, your dog is not allowed to cross it until they sit, look at the human and human invites dog over the boundary.


It is wise to set up a boundary at your doorways in your home so when people come into the house your dog knows to give them space and sit and wait to be greeted. Anyone who comes into your home – including yourself, should ignore the dog 100% until the dog is sitting calm and relaxed. Until your dog automatically sits, please ask your dog to sit. Most dogs will stop jumping or getting over excited when given a job (ie: sitting or laying down).


If your dog is over excited then this exercise may take longer and you may have to do a little tough love by ignoring your dog longer or leaving back out the door for a few seconds. Remember, over excitement in dogs is because humans have made them that way. Well-balanced dogs are happy to see their people, not crazy excited. Without even realizing it, we are rewarding them right from young puppyhood for being too excited as well as other bad behaviours. Calm and happy dogs are what we should all strive for.


Ashley Reid

Tess’s Dog Training


Please reload

Featured Posts

Part 1: Introduction – the Importance of Building a Solid Obedience Foundation with Your Dog

February 5, 2014

Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload

© 2013 by Tess's Dog Training