Dog for 2/19

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com.

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Dog Gone Problems,

My dog has this thing about going out the sliding glass doors to the backyard. When she wants back in, she starts to eat the glass door with her teeth. You can hear them rubbing down the glass. I'm afraid she's going to break her teeth. Plus, she also licks the glass and whines. I hope you can help me.

Linda

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Hi Linda,

I would recommend you address this by teaching the dog to sit at the door to ask to go out.

Start with the dog inside when she wants to go out. Go to the door and tell her to sit once. If she doesn’t sit within three seconds, walk away and sit down near the door. Wait one minute and then go to the door and give her a sit command again just once. If she doesn’t sit within three seconds this time, go sit down for two minutes. Next time, sit for four minutes, then eight minutes and so on.

Keep doubling the length of time you sit down until she sits when you give the command. The instant she sits, swing that door open as fast as you can. With enough practice, this will tell the dog that sitting at the door is the best way to get it to open.

You can practice this more often by showing her you have a treat and tossing it out the door as she watches, then close the door with her on the inside. After she gets the treat, call her back inside and repeat.

If she bites at the glass while you practice, I'd recommend some exercise before you practice. Don’t overdo it, though. A walk for 10 to 15 minutes should do the trick.

While you do this, you need to prevent her from accessing the door while you are not there to supervise. I'd recommend setting up an X-Pen (a folding mini fence) around the door so she can’t practice chewing on the glass. This is important because if you open the door when the dog bites the glass, this will reinforce the behavior you want to stop.

If she has difficulty sitting, I'd do some clicker training with her sit command away from the door. Get a clicker and toss 10 treats on the ground. Each time the dog licks up the treat, click at the same time. Do this three times a day for two days.

Next is to give your dog the sit command, only once. If she doesn’t sit, walk two feet away and repeat the command. The instant the dog sits, click, give a treat and say the word sit. Remember to only say the word sit. Don't add "good sit," "good dog," etc. Move a few feet away and repeat. Eventually walk around near the door and ask for a sit. When she sits, swing the door open.

If you practice these steps a few times a day — keep them short; two to three minutes each practice session — you should notice the dog sitting at the door to ask to go out. When you do see this, be sure to open the door immediately.

Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.

David

Submit your pet questions to David Codr by emailing a photo of your dog and question to dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com. Visit doggoneproblems.com for more from David.


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