When you leave the house is your dog polite and patient at the door? If not, having a “wait” command will help.

We have all heard that our dogs should pass through a door after us rather before us, and for most cases this is true. However, there are times when we need to send our dog through a door ahead of us. It’s not important that they are ahead or behind us. What’s important is that the dog goes through the door only when given permission.

Training a dog to wait

Start with a good fitting collar and a sturdy leash, 5 or 6 feet long. You will start your training at the front door since this is the door we usually use to go on walks. Approach the door in a calm manner, open it and give the command “wait”. You shouldn’t expect your dog to do it on the first try since she won’t know what “wait” means. Likely he will barge through the door but this time you will be ready. As your dog passes through the door way tug on the leash and bring him back in repeating the “wait” command, and close the door. You will open the door again, repeat the “wait” command and see if you get the same response or if your dog waits this time. If she waits praise her for a job well done. If she tries to barge through you will again tug the leash and bring her back in and repeat the “wait” command and close the door. This process may go on for several repetitions before your dog understands that you don’t want him to go through the open door.

The first time your dog chooses not to go through the open door praise him heavily and move away from the door to further illustrate that the good stuff happens inside rather than outside during this exercise.

Depending on the temperament of your dog you may either take a break or go on a little further. This time open the door with a “wait” command and then put one of your feet out on the door mat and see what your dog does. If she waits come back and praise. If she tries to go out with you tug the leash and repeat the “wait” command, bring her back in and try again. When you are successful with one foot out then switch to the other, still only one foot out at a time. After a number of repetitions you will see that your dog has learned not to exit when you put one foot out. Next put both feet on the door mat but no further. You don’t want to ask for too much too soon. Depending on the response from your dog, either praise or correct the mistake and repeat. Once you can do a full step out with both feet give this exercise a rest.

After about 30 minutes you can get your dog ready for an actual walk and head for the front door. This time you should see that your dog waits much easier. Take one step out to see how she does and if she waits return to her and reward. Return to your dog to further encourage the waiting behavior, praise, give a release command and then take your dog out for a walk.

After training a dog to wait command for a few weeks you will see that your dog politely waits when you go to the door even without being asked in most cases. I recommend you teach this command at all of the doors that you and your dog regularly use to show her that we want this behavior all the time at all doors.