Continuing on from my last post… Now that your dog understands the basics of the wait behavior it’s time to try using it at a door that opens to the outdoors. If you have a fenced yard, use a door that accesses it for added safety.
Set your dog up for success. As you may recall from earlier blogs, I’ve mentioned that dogs do not generalize well. What this means is that while your dog may completely understand “wait” as it relates to the doorway you’ve been practicing at i.e. between the kitchen and the family room, he may not automatically understand that the same behavior applies when the “wait” cue is given at a doorway opening to the outside. As a result a little additional training may be needed.
Set up for success:
- Exercise — If your dog is young and full of energy, you’ll want to make sure he has been well exercised before you start this new step in his training. (The anticipation of having access to the outdoors can be very stimulating to many dogs.)
- Practice — Bring your dog to the inside doorway where they’ve been practicing up until now and get one or two successfully cued “waits” before you move to the outside doorway.
- Leash — Continue to practice with your dog on leash, just in case!
- Treats — Have some training treats strategically placed near the outside doorway for rewarding good behavior, but not so close that they are a distraction from the exercise.
Wait at an outside doorway (door opens into the room where you are standing)
Walk your dog up to the doorway on leash. Ask your dog to sit just to the side of the threshold. If the door opens from left to right your dog will sit just to the left of the doorway. Cue your dog to wait (and use your hand signal if you have one). Reach for the door handle. If your dog does not move give him some nice gentle praise and re-cue the wait. If he does move, reposition him and repeat.
After you’ve re-cued the wait, open the door about 2 inches; leave it open for about 3 seconds. If your dog successfully holds his sit, shut the door, release your dog from the wait, and go get and give him a treat. If your dog got up re-start the whole exercise.
Assuming your dog was successful, the next time you open the door you will open it about a foot.
Cue the sit/wait and open the door about a foot wide. If your dog starts to get up you will move your body in front of him to block his motion and simultaneously close the door. Re-cue the sit & wait and repeat the exercise.
If your dog successfully holds his wait for 5 – 10 seconds at the open door you can release him and let him go outside — that’s his reward. Don’t let the release/reward be too exciting as this could make your next attempt at wait more challenging for your dog.
Gradually, in 3 to 5 second increments, you will increase the amount of time your dog holds his wait while the door is open in front of him. You will work to getting at least a 30 second wait before you even consider trying the exercise off leash.
Wait at an outside doorway (door opens out away from the room where you are standing)
You will train this the same way as indicated above, however, note that your body will automatically be in a position to help block your dog’s forward movement, should he get up prematurely from his wait sit.
Now that your dog understands “wait” you should be able to bring in groceries or hold the door for entering guests without fear that your dog will make a mad dash for the outdoors.
Good luck 🙂
Can’t believe it’s been a month since my last blog 😦
Casey continues to do well, yippee! We make a point of doing his physical therapy daily. His routine includes a 1-mile walk plus one or two shorter ones each day augmented by his exercises. I’ve found that by adding music the time passes more quickly and we both seem to enjoy our time together. I’m not sure Casey isn’t all about the treats, but as long as his tail’s wagging while he’s doing his exercises I’m happy!
In the last two weeks Casey has passed two milestones:
1. He returned to dance (canine freestyle) class! While his endurance still needs work he was really able to keep up with the rest of the class.
2. Last weekend we took Casey out on his first real hike at a local nature preserve. We were out for exactly an hour, going up & down hills, across fields, etc. You could see how happy he was and pooped by the end.
Casey should be off all restrictions next week, however, I will likely keep him on leash for going down the stairs. It may be his eyesight vs. the leg but I’ve seen him lose his footing on the final steps and don’t want to take any unnecessary chances.
This has been quite a journey but I’m thankful that all has turned out so well. Many thanks go to our support team of family, friends and medical professionals — we wouldn’t be where we are today without everyone’s help — Thank you 🙂
Casey was given permission to start doing short, 5 minute, on leash walks as soon as his bandage was removed (following his ACL/Cranial Cruciate Surgery). Being all terrier — meaning he’s quite resilient and self-assured — Casey was ready to give it a shot. The literature we were given indicated he might not bear weight on the foot for up to 2 weeks, but that we should be looking for some toe tapping within a few days. Well, my boy toe tapped from the minute the bandage was off. Within the week he was balancing himself on the bad leg to pee!
The following week we had some very wintry weather, not terribly conducive to lengthening our walks to the 10 minutes as prescribed. So I decided to do our walking in the basement. How boring to walk aimlessly around a basement for 10 minutes…so I added some music and all of a sudden we were dancing 🙂
As soon as the music started Casey’s tail started wagging. He was delighted to walk to the beat. Yes, there were treats involved, which made the entire experience much more fun. The change in Casey’s attitude was instantaneous. Here was another instance of being able to use his formal training (canine freestyle) to help him rebound from his injury. Adding music has been so successful that we have incorporated the “dancing” as part of our program even when we’re able to go outside for longer walks.