You may be someone who is dealing with reactivity at the front door. This is no fun, and I want you to be careful. Reactivity at the front door can potentially lead to another problem called redirected aggression. In other words, when your dog is at the front door reacting badly, and you put your hands on them; there’s a good chance you may actually get bit. Your dog doesn’t intend to bite you; it’s just something in their head at that particular moment. They aren’t turning on you, but it is time to get this thing under control.
The first tip I want to share is not to try to solve this when your dog is becoming reactive. You’re going to have to actually train proactively for some time to begin to solve this problem. If you follow me, you’ve probably heard me talk about place training. However, I’m going to come at this from a slightly different angle.
Elevated beds are great but I saw something a few days ago in my client’s home that I thought would be useful. Many people have a rug in their entryway, and it usually feels substantially different from the floor it’s on. After you get your training collar and leash, you’ll need some high-value food along with that rug. If you don’t have a rug, you can use their bed too. First, you will teach your dog how good it is to get onto the rug or the bed and how great it is to get into a down there. I really want you to reinforce your dog while they’re there thoroughly.
Go through this process for a few minutes. Show your dog how good it is to get on and how amazing it is to lay down. I want you to have your leash in hand and try to tempt your dog to come off the bed by throwing a piece of food a few feet away. The moment they step off, you have a leash on them you use to put them back. Please give your dog as many opportunities as they need to come off and not get the food.
What you shouldn’t do is prevent your dog from taking that step off of the bed or rug. When you do this exercise, you’re showing your dog where that boundary is. It will also help them understand how they get the reinforcement from you. Train like this for a couple of days.
My second tip is to begin to create circumstances. Create circumstances similar to the ones your dog is likely to bark in. When you create those circumstances, you need to be fully prepared. Have your leash, your high-value food, and the ability to lead your dog over to the place before it starts. Allow your dog to decide to stay on to receive the reward, or come off and lose the reward. Then you have you use the leash to put them back.
Here’s a third tip I think will be useful. You can use your TV or some device to play sounds that will trigger your dog. The trigger will make them come off the place. When they do come off, you’re going to be able to teach them to get back onto their place. If they do that, you’ll be able to reward them for staying there.