For many years I have complained about how terribly the dogs behave when someone comes to the door. Those same years have included me doing nothing consistent about teaching them how to behave as I would like them to. Bad trainer. In my defense, it seemed to me that teaching the dogs to behave when they hear someone on the porch was a two person job. So not only would I need to consistently train alternative behaviors to going bonkers when someone is at the door but another person would have to be patiently available to help me. That sounds like a lot of effort, doesn't it? Lazy trainer. Well, I am just physically lazy. My trainer brain is busy. For example, I had literally a million ideas for what I wanted to train for the Positive Reinforcement Training Week Teach Your Pet Something New In Ten Minutes challenge. When I settled on doing some practical training, as opposed to tricks or competition work, training polite someone at the door behavior was the most nagging, hence, obvious choice. It would be easy to schedule someone to help me with just one ten minute training session, right? Even "training is your hobby" Jason could be coerced to be briefly available. So yesterday, treats in one pocket and a clicker in another, I spent ten minutes on training the dogs to behave when someone comes to the door. After years of laziness and inconsistency, ten minutes changed absolutely everything. I am honestly shocked at how much I learned in ten minutes. Oh, and the dogs learned something too.
What I want the dogs to eventually learn is to go to their beds either when they hear someone at the door or when given the "bed" cue. They are pretty good at "bed" under less distracted than the prospect of a visitor circumstances so what I want ought to be a simple step up from our usual target training. I'd also like the dogs to remain on their beds until released so our visitors don't always have to be bombarded by crazed barking dogs. Oh, and the barking. It would be nice if "bed" when someone is at the door was enough mental stimulation, otherwise known as a dog job, to help curb the welcome to our house pack bark. Obviously the beauty of three quiet dogs patiently waiting on their bed when the doorbell rings in not something I could teach in ten minutes. My hope for our ten minute training session was at least an improvement on total chaos. I broke the brief training session down into three parts.
- Our ten minutes began with reinforcing something the dogs already know, the "bed" cue. I am always back and forth on whether it is best to practice this as a group or individually. I chose to do a group session and I think that really helped me to see the merits in both practicing as a group and individually. During yesterdays session I truly saw the benefit in the dogs helping each other to learn. When only one dog was getting treats for having all four paws on the bed, the other two dogs corrected themselves much more rapidly than when I waited for all three dogs to "bed." Amazing.
- About two minutes into our session, I asked the dogs to "remain" on their beds. My "remain" cue is a loose "stay." While "stay" means do not move at all, when I give the "remain" cue the dogs are free to change body position but they must remain in the general area, like on a bed. I upped the distraction levels relatively quickly with this practice. Giving a jackpot treat to the one or two dogs that obeyed best helped the others figure out what we were working towards much more quickly.
- Finally, the something new part of the training session began when I opened the door. Did I mention I ended up doing most of the session alone? Yeah. Jason was available for the last two minutes but I am actually thankful for the solo time. In teaching the dogs something new in ten minutes by myself, I learned that I could teach them to behave when the door opens alone. Before the session was over, Jason and I were both able to go in and out of the house, pretend to exuberantly greet someone, knock on the door and stomp on the porch with a great deal less dog wildness than usual. While all three dogs never remained quietly on their beds simultaneously, each dog was rewarded for doing as expected at least once. Success!
Did you play the Train Your Dog Something New In Ten Minutes Game?
Welcome toPositive Reinforcement Pet Training Week hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Rubicon Days & Tenacious Little Terrier. The Linky below and the giveaway above are open all week long, through April 12th. Positive Pet Training Week begins on the first Monday of each month which means our next event runs May 4th-10th. The May theme is "reviews" where we invite you to share a review of a positive reinforcement training book, DVD, treat, tool, speaker, class, etc. As always, any positive reinforcement pet training posts, comments or social media shares are welcome. Thank you for joining us and happy training!