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Critter Corner: How to get dog to cool his jets at the door

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Dear Miss Behavin’: My dog gets super excited whenever we are about to go for a walk, starts jumping up and barking, then nearly pulls my arm off trying to dash out the door. I’m exhausted even before we get to the sidewalk.

Reply: I’m glad to hear your dog loves his daily walks so much, but there are a few things you can do to leave the house with your arm (and dignity) intact. Up to this point, your dog has learned that barking and jumping results in a walk, therefore you will need to dissuade him of this notion. The key to success will be patience on your part.

First, figure out at which point your dog starts getting excited. Is it when you put on your shoes? When you pick up the leash? This varies from dog to dog, but will be the starting point for your training. As soon as your dog starts jumping up and barking, cease getting ready and turn around and ignore him. Give him the silent treatment until he stops his shenanigans. Then resume your routine (i.e. pick up the leash again). If your dog starts barking again, repeat ignoring him.

It may take several minutes, but eventually your dog will learn that you aren’t getting ready for your walk until he is calm and quiet (with four paws on the floor). Once he has his gear on, you are ready to tackle the dreaded doorway. Open the door a crack, and if he tries to dart through, quickly shut the door in front of his face. Repeat until your dog takes a step back away from the door. Then immediately say “good boy, let’s go” and head outside for your walk.

The first time you do this new routine, it may seem like it takes forever. However, if you consistently do it every time you leave the house, with each walk your wait will be shorter. Dogs learn quickly when they desperately want something (like a walk). Your pup will eventually connect the dots that you won’t leave the house until he is behaving in a calm and quiet manner.