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Teaching Your Dog to Wait Politely Before Going Through Doors

Teaching Your Dog to Wait Politely Before Going Through Doors

Teaching your dog to wait politely before going through doors is an important part of training. A well-trained dog will sit and wait for your cue before bursting through a doorway. This prevents them from darting outside into danger, allows you to enter rooms first, and helps establish you as the pack leader. It also teaches impulse control and patience.

Some reasons to teach door manners include:

  • Safety – If your dog darts out an open door, they could get lost, hit by a car, or injured. Waiting allows you to exit first and assess any dangers.

  • Establishing leadership – Going through doors before your dog asserts your role as pack leader. Letting them barge ahead puts them in charge.

  • Avoiding accidents – Waiting prevents your dog from bolting outside to go potty. They learn to hold it until given the bathroom cue.

  • No pulling or dragging – Loose leash walking becomes easier when your dog isn't leading and pulling you out doors. They learn to follow your lead calmly.

  • Politeness – Waiting to be invited shows respect and self-control. It's good manners!

  • Convenience – Dogs who wait make entering and exiting much easier for their human. No more awkward jamming through doorways!

Bottom line – door manners keep your dog safe, help them respect you as leader, and make your life easier. With patience and consistency, you can teach this useful behavior.

How to Teach Wait at Doors

Teaching your dog to wait politely at doors takes time and consistency. Be patient, use positive reinforcement methods, and stick to the steps. With practice, your dog will learn this cue reliably. Follow these training tips:

  • Start indoors – Begin training in a low distraction environment before generalizing outdoors. Have treats ready.

  • Hold the door – With your dog on leash, hold the door closed. Do not allow them to go through yet.

  • Reward calm behavior – When they stop pulling toward the door, mark the behavior with a click or word like "yes!" Then reward with a treat.

  • Add the cue – Once your dog is reliably stopping at the closed door, add a verbal cue like "wait." Say it right before you reward the paused behavior at the door.

  • Increase time – Gradually increase the time your dog must wait before being rewarded and allowed to pass through the doorway. Work up to 30 seconds.

  • Repeat frequently – Practice several times a day in short sessions. Use doors your dog knows well at first before generalizing to new doors.

  • Vary locations – Slowly change locations once your dog reliably waits at a familiar door. Practice at different doors in your home, yard, etc.

  • Test on leash – When they succeed waiting while on leash, it's time to practice off leash. Keep rewards handy.

  • Try distractions – Have someone ring the doorbell or knock while your dog waits. Reward them for maintaining the wait despite the distraction.

  • Fade the lure – Over many repetitions, slowly phase out food lures and rewards only for an unprompted wait. Reward intermittently.

  • Troubleshoot issues – If your dog struggles, revisit earlier steps. Increase rewards and practice during calm times of day. Stay patient!

With consistent training, your dog will generalize waiting politely at doors, even when excited, distracted, or in new locations. Keep reinforcing the behavior to maintain it long-term. Soon you'll have an excellent canine door companion!

Common Problems and Solutions

When training your dog to wait at doors, you may encounter some common challenges. Here are some potential issues and how to troubleshoot them:

  • Breaking the wait – If your dog struggles to hold the wait for more than a few seconds, go back to short waits of just 2-3 seconds. Gradually build up duration again with lots of rewards.

  • Rushing ahead – If your dog lunges ahead or pulls on leash toward the door, work on attention and impulse control skills. Reward calm, paused behavior heavily before asking for waits.

  • Distracted sniffing – If smells distract your dog from waiting, work indoors first. Give rewards right at their nose to regain attention. Increase value of rewards.

  • Poor response to cue – Say the verbal cue "wait" before rewarding paused behavior. Be sure you aren't saying the cue too late. Reward every time they wait to reinforce the association.

  • Only listening indoors – Generalize to new doors and locations slowly. Bring high-value rewards when testing outdoors. Start back at just 2 second waits if needed.

  • Aggression – Talk to a professional trainer if waiting near doors causes aggression. This is a complex issue requiring management and training modification. Avoid triggers.

  • Health issues – Elderly, injured, or sick dogs may struggle with long waits. Accommodate limitations and work on short waits. Check with your veterinarian.

  • Boredom – Make training sessions short and engaging. Randomly extend wait times and reward with extra jackpots of treats to keep it interesting!

Be patient and consistent while addressing issues. With time, your dog will master patience at doorways and give you their full attention when this cue is asked of them!

Using Wait for Polite Leash Walking

Once your dog reliably waits at doorways on cue, put this skill to work during leash walks for polite, attentive heel position:

  • Before exiting home, ask for a sit/wait at the door. Reward. Open door and step outside. Reward your dog again for waiting to follow you.

  • Before crossing streets, come to a full stop. Give the wait cue. Allow traffic to pass. Then invite your dog to cross with you and heavily praise.

  • When approaching a break in a fence, pause and ask for a wait. Reward. Walk through the opening first, then release your dog to follow on a loose leash.

  • Before going through pet store doors, vet clinic doors, etc. halt and request a wait. Give treats. Go first, then release your dog. This prevents pulling ahead.

  • Use wait when people approach to prevent jumping. Ask for the wait, reward calm behavior, and then allow your dog to sit politely to greet the person.

  • When you stop to chat with someone, have your dog wait calmly next to you. Reward with treats and praise while you talk.

  • Before loading into the car, ask for a wait at the door or trunk. Give a reward, load your dog last, then release them into the car.

Reinforce waiting often during walks to generalize this cue. With patience, your dog will learn to wait automatically in exciting situations. Keep walks pleasant through positive reinforcement!

Maintaining the Wait Behavior Long-Term

Like any trained cue, teaching your dog to wait politely at doors requires ongoing reinforcement to maintain the behavior. Here are tips for keeping wait cue reliable for the long haul:

  • Practice regularly – Even after your dog is proficient at waiting, continue to incorporate it into daily routines and walks. Frequent repetition will strengthen the behavior.

  • Vary wait duration – Keep your dog on their toes by randomly extending wait times longer than usual before rewarding and releasing. This boosts impulse control.

  • Use real-life rewards – Let exiting a door, greeting a person, getting dinner, going for a walk, etc. be the reward at times rather than a food treat or toy. Real rewards boost behavior.

  • Reward correct responses – Always reward your dog promptly with treats, praise, and access to the space beyond the door whenever they wait upon request. This builds a strong cue association.

  • Remain patient and calm – If your dog struggles or makes a mistake, don't overreact. Simply reset and practice in an easier context before trying again. Staying positive will motivate your dog.

  • Watch for backsliding – If your dog starts charging doors again, go back to basics. Shore up training with more repetitions of short waits, high-value rewards, and consistency.

  • Manage smartly – Utilize leashes, baby gates, indoor tethers, and leashing to your belt loop to prevent rewarding unwanted behaviors during high distraction times. Set your dog up for success.

With a little upkeep, your dog's door manners will become habits that happily stick with them for life. A well-trained canine companion who waits politely makes owning a dog easier and more pleasant for both parties!


Teaching your dog to reliably wait before proceeding through doorways takes dedication, patience, and creativity. The work is well worth it for the safety, respect, and convenience this skill provides. Not only will your dog be safer and more polite, but you'll find life with them more pleasant when you can trust their door behavior. Practice the steps consistently, troubleshoot issues with compassion, and maintain the behavior by integrating it into your lifestyle. With time, you'll have a canine companion who waits at doorways like a champ!

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